Tag Archives: home improvement

Thanksgiving 2019

Thanksgiving seems like a really long time ago…I feel like I’ve already been swept into Christmas without a minute to catch up. I feel like with Thanksgiving being so late this year, the rush to start Christmas mode was really strong. We always get our tree right after Thanksgiving, so that didn’t really change, it just felt more hurried.We had a craft show on Small Business Saturday, so that sucked up some time, but I have to say, this is the first year in eleven years that I didn’t work on Black Friday and it was heaven! My parents stayed for part of Friday and we all went to Ikea together and it was just nice to relax with them and not be “on” at a store. (For many reasons, being “on” at a craft show is so much less exhausting.)

Anyway, Thanksgiving was small and lovely like always. This year, Naoto cooked a turkey breast in the crock pot and he really liked that. He felt less stressed, and we had fewer leftovers, which is great. I know Thanksgiving leftovers are a thing but I personally hate eating the same kind of thing over and over again and we’re really trying to lower our food waste, so fewer leftovers are a good thing around here.

I set the table kind of the same way as I have been, with vintage plates and books and a few little thrifted things. I didn’t even make place cards this year! I enjoy setting the table and making place cards but also, I enjoy doing other things, so I’m trying to put less pressure on myself to do all the things when it’s not always necessary. Sometimes work and craft show prep takes over. It was my mom’s first visit to Ikea and I think she enjoyed it, even though she didn’t find any curtains for her living room. I was a little bit worried about going out on Black Friday, but Ikea was pretty tame…a good day for trying out all the chairs and couches! Now, onto Christmas…

We are hosting a little party tonight after Forest Park’s Holiday Walk so after work, I have to finish cleaning for that…as busy as it feels today, I’m glad we are hosting something because it forced me not to drag out the decorating. (I never really finished decorating for Halloween because there was no deadline. I didn’t want that to happen with Christmas.) It’s just a low-key affair with some local friends and Trader Joe’s snacks and maybe a fancy punch…I can’t wait.

Have a good weekend!

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Out on the Lanai

blue hawaii on the lanaiIt’s been really perfect spring weather the past few days. We had a bad hot streak, but since the beginning of June, the weather has been mild, even chilly! blue hawaii on the lanai, kimberly and naotoLast Monday, after the gym and the garden, we enjoyed our annual anniversary Blue Hawaiis before dinner. It was just warm enough to feel like summer. first lanai dinner 2018We also had our first dinner on the lanai last week. (Naoto made this from Smitten Kitchen.) Last year I don’t feel like we enjoyed our balcony enough so I’m determined to get out there as much as possible this summer. We have a new furniture arrangement and have cleared off some other unnecessary things, so hopefully it will be more enticing.

I had the brilliant idea to plant our pots in rainbow order this summer. (You know how I love my ROY G BIV-ing!) It ended up being way more work than I bargained for…mostly finding the right kinds of plants to work with our sun situation…our balcony is pretty shady. But every summer I feel like I don’t have enough yellows and oranges out there, so this was a nice way to force myself to branch out. Of course, I love it, but I’m already deciding on color combinations for each pot for next summer!

Anyway, behold the rainbow…pink impatiens, container garden, lanai garden, balcony gardenmixed pot, pink flamingoes, garden gnomesred petuniasred geraniumorange petunias, orange geraniumyellow petunias, yellow marigoldsmixed greenslobeliapurple flowers, impatiens, story night petunias, fairy flowers starry night petunias, night sky petuniasThe “greens” are a bit of a mess right now because my wooden window box is falling apart and because I’m waiting for my climbers to grow. Hopefully it will fill out as summer rolls along. 

Do you have any favorite flower color combinations? I’m really into yellow and hot pink right now.

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The Lanai 2015

balcony looking south, lanaiSummer is almost over and I haven’t shared photos from the lanai! It actually looks really different now because I spent some time out there yesterday giving up on some plants (RIP, little guys) and repotting my newly purchased mums*. balcony looking south, lanai, sitting areaI changed up the seating area from last year, moving the wicker love seat along the windows to give it some extra protection from the elements. I liked it a lot better this way, even though at only 4 feet deep, it’s a tight squeeze out there. balcony looking north, lanaiThe “dining area” is pretty much the same. I have six hanging planters of various flowers. I bought a portulaca and a mixed planter and I built my own of begonias, petunias, vinca vines, Creeping Jenny, Mexican Heather, allyssum, various coleus, and some other greens and blooms. (It feels like I did all of this a lifetime ago…it was before Japan!) I really enjoyed building my own planters but this winter I want to do some reading about pot designs. Some of the pots filled out nicely, but others never really filled out, even now at the end of the summer. large pot on the lanaiMy parents gave me this giant pot after Japan and I was so excited to fill it. I bought some cheap impatiens, petunias, and coleus and added in perennial sedum that I’ve had for years. Next year I would like to fill the giant pot with all perennials to keep costs and maintenance down. But I have to say, this pot still looks amazing and full and lush, while most of the others have suffered a bit in our heat lately. old geraniumMy old geranium is still going strong. I really weeded through my geraniums this winter and kept the strongest ones. I didn’t know which colors I would end up with since nothing was blooming in March, but I have one bright pink, one coral, and one white one left. I’ll bring them in when it gets cold. The geraniums hang out on a little cart with some perennials I planted this winter. None of them really thrived in the light on my balcony, so I need to replant them at my parents or give them to someone else who gets more sun. Most are still alive, just not blooming…kind of a bummer. Split Second Morning GloryNext to the big pot, I planted seven types of climbing vines. So far, only three have bloomed. (Womp, womp.) But, I love going out there every morning and tending to the blooms I have, so…I’m making the most of them! The one above is a Split Second Morning Glory, obtained through a “seed swap” on Instagram. (Thanks, Lauren!) They’re double flowers and are very peony-like. Now that I know how successful they are, I’m going to plant lots more of these beauties next year! President Tyler Morning Glory President Tyler Morning GloryThen there are the gorgeous blue President Tylers, obtained at the actual seed swap. The deep purplish blue is so striking on the railings. Heavenly Blue Morning GloryAnd last but not least, the Heavenly Blues…which really, how gorgeous is that color? I took this photo yesterday right before a huge downpour that completely battered the bloom. I’m so glad I captured its perfection!

Next week, I’ll do a community garden update which shall be called All About the Tomatoes. Have a good weekend!

*The Mum Disclaimer: Yes, I feel like it’s too soon to usher in fall, quite frankly, but it is after Labor Day and they were so cheap at Menards! I had to snag a few while I was there! It’s going to cool off today, so maybe fall is really right around the corner? As much as I love fall, I’m all for soaking up the season we are in. I’m not ready to pull out my boots and scarves (and pumpkin spice lattes!). I’m still enjoying the last bits of summer while I can!

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Home Is A 1970s Apartment: Our Living Room, Spring Edition

Kimberly AH living room 2015 Last month, my parents visited and Naoto bought flowers, so I figured while the living room was all tidy, I would take some pictures to share. I haven’t done a full post about our living room since this one in 2012, and things have changed ever so slightly since then…dare I say the living room is almost done? Kimberly AH living room 2015 Kimberly AH living room 2015 The living room arrangement could use a couple more chairs and some art above/around the television, but I’m waiting for the perfect solution. (I have some chairs in mind…just waiting for a sale, and I’d love to do something simple and 3D behind the TV since there’s that weird empty corner there. I know a lot of people do the gallery wall thing around their televisions, but how many gallery walls can one room have?)Kimberly AH desk 2015I’ve been plagued with lingering art on the floor so I spent an afternoon readjusting the “gallery wall” above my desk, adding art and re-centering things to make up for the addition of the drawer unit in the middle. It was actually pretty easy, except for the time I slammed my head on the ceiling. I’m apparently pretty tall when I stand on my desks! Kimberly AH living room 2015  I am thrilled that the artwork is hung! Maybe now I won’t be so tempted to buy more…Japanese wall hanging, japanese postI bought this banner in Japan at Tokyo Station last spring. I’m sad to admit that it’s been folded up in a drawer all year while I decided where it should go. art above desk, kimberly AHI realize the art looks a little wonky, especially from this angle. I need to straighten things out with some Command squares or something. For now, I’m just happy the frames are all off of the floor. And, I will admit that my desk hasn’t looked this clean since about five minutes after this picture was taken.

Art details, top to bottom, left to right: You Are My Sunshine print-I can’t remember the seller//Cat Moves, signed “For Presley”-Lucy Knisley//All You Need Is Cats-Paper Pastries//photo of Presley//calligraphy quote-Dancing Pen & Press//Girl on a Swing paper cut-Tina Tarnoff//Lord Byron Letter Writing print-Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress//cat postcard from Japan//Make Something Today screen print-Life Love Paper//photo strip//Comparison is the Thief of Joy-I made it//Ironhead collage-Vivienne Strauss

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Old Painting = New Art

P. Rambert oil paintingIn January when I went thrifting with my parents, I found this old painting. It was only twenty dollars, it’s an actual painting, not a print, and for reasons I can’t explain, I really liked it. The painting is signed P. Rambert, which means nothing to me, but apparently people on Ebay think some of his paintings can fetch $50-550…mmhmmmmm. P. Rambert oil painting I’ve been working on hanging up more art (again) and so I tried this one in the living room near the lamp. (I do think the matchy-matchy pillow looks a little ridiculous…an interior decorator I am not!) I didn’t plan to keep it there, but it’s grown on me and I’ve really liked having some color on the wall! (I think my desire for spring and something other than grey skies and a grey home is getting to me!)

Am I the only one who freezes and fears decorating decisions?

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A Place For Everything & Everything In Its Place

Home Decorator's Collection, Martha Stewart flat fileIt’s been a little quiet over here on the blog these past couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to focus on cleaning up around here, spending time outside and drinking in this wonderful summer.

One of the most exciting things about cleaning up around here is that we added another, final piece to our desk set-up in the living room. (You can see the beginnings of the office area here and here.) The two desks kind of looked lonely so we added a third piece from the Martha Stewart Craft Collection at Home Decorators. It’s a flat file and I am thrilled to be able to have more space for some of my mail art and craft supplies.

The most exciting part is that two of the drawers are large enough to hold my huge collection of handmade papers. Some of them have been rolled up for years in my trunk and in a drawer and in a spare trash can in the guest room, so it’s amazing to have them all in one place, lying flat and ready to use. Home Decorator's Collection, Martha Stewart flat fileThe other exciting part is that the other giant drawers have these little dividers, creating ready-made cubbies for all my stationery things. I’m currently picking patterned papers to line each section. Lining drawers is serious business around here.

We are still waiting for the parts to finish the last drawer in the cabinet. There were a couple of pieces that cracked during shipping, but thankfully we were able to get the whole thing together minus one drawer and that last drawer will be a piece of cake to finish once we get those parts. (Edit: we=Naoto…he did 99% of the work building this.) The furniture is all in place and I’m filling it up quickly. I hope to be able to show you another in-progress shot next week. There is still quite a lot of work to do–I will have to move the artwork and patch some holes in the wall and repaint the wall–before I can call the living room “complete.”

I will be back next week with an update, hopefully, and some more regularly scheduled programming. Have a great weekend!

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Our Blooming Balcony

kimberly ah balconyOur balcony is open for relaxing! And honestly, that’s all I’ve been doing lately because the weather has been gorgeous! I bought some throw pillows at Target for the couch and the chairs. They make it cozier than ever to read a book or take a nap outside.

I finally finished all of my planting and re-potting. Once the seeds grow, hopefully there will be more flowers and vines. kimberly ah balconyI have a tiny herb garden growing behind the couch. We have two kinds of mint, basil, thyme and lavender growing along with the only two annuals that made it through the polar vortex last winter. And, in a rebellious move that is probably breaking some sort of condo ordinance, I have several pots of seedlings situated outside of the railing for maximum sun and rain exposure. I’ve planted parsley, zinnias, lettuce and four types of vining flowers. (I may be in over my head with the amount of vining flowers I’ve planted…if the building falls down under the weight of morning glories, I take full responsibility.) kimberly ah balconyWhile I’ve planted a lot of seeds this year, I took a big shortcut with my hanging pots. I usually put together my own pots, but this year I put together two and bought four: the portulaca above, two ivy geraniums, and another fuchsia. I repotted my old geraniums with some new in one pot…I’m hoping it fills out a bit. Last year, I stuck with geraniums because I knew I could make them work. This year, I’m branching out so the pressure is on to keep everything alive! kimberly ah balconyThe fuchsia is bright pink with purple centers…I know I said I hate purple, but I really love this plant! kimberly ah balconyThis is my original fuchsia. I filled out the pot with a vinca vine that is really taking off. Fuchsias are sun/shade plants so I’m really hoping the north side of the balcony is just right for them. So far they seem to be doing well, growing tons of buds and blooms. kimberly ah balconyI wasn’t going to plant petunias this year because I tend to kill them by August, but I fell in love with these two varieties and decided to plop them together in one pot. The deep purple ones are Queen Bees and they are supposed to have yellow centers, though I haven’t seen any yellow yet. And the tiny peach ones are Mochaccinos. I love the tiny peach flowers. kimberly ah balconyI also bought a little wicker cube to contain all of my gardening supplies. It’s nice to have them out of sight and the top of the cube can act as a little side table during dinners outside. kimberly ah balconyOn the black table in between the “living” and “dining” areas, I have a hibiscus and my clover (the clover lives in the kitchen during the winter). Some of my seedlings will move over here eventually.

So that’s the balcony. It’s not perfect but it really does feel like an extension of the living room these days. I’m just hoping I can squeeze in every moment possible outside before the heat and humidity takes over!

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Twinkle Lights

condo balconyA few weeks ago, my dad put in an outlet for our balcony. We’ve been here four years exactly this weekend and I can only say whyyyy didn’t we do this sooner? The outlet gave us the option to add twinkle lights outside. I plugged them in last night and they seriously transformed the humble balcony into an extra summer room for relaxing, for Hasegawa Happy Hours, for parties…endless possibilities.
condo balconyThe balcony is alllllmost done. I still have a few things I want to do, like plant a climbing flower, either a morning glory, black-eyed Susan vine (thanks for the suggestion, Mr. Brownthumb!) or a cardinal climber. And I have a couple of other flowers on my wish list (as always).

I’m meeting my parents today to do a little bit of plant shopping. I’m really hoping to have the balcony all set by the weekend. The weather has been so weird here–either blazing hot or unseasonably chilly or raining. None of those situations are making it easy to finish things up out there. Spring in Chicago…I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Behind on the Balcony

potted plants for balconyI’m behind on getting our balcony all summer ready.

I looked back into the blog archives to find that in 2012, I was all planted by May 9th. And last summer, I was potting flowers on May 15th. This year…well it’s May 23rd and I’m still not quite started.

potted plants for balconyYesterday I went to look for flowers but came home pretty empty handed. I bought one big hanging pot of geraniums since most of mine didn’t make it through the winter. (They may have been a little bit neglected in the water department.) And last weekend I bought the fuchsia above. Its flowers are so interesting and fun. The two fuchsia plants don’t quite fill out the pot as much as I’d like so I bought an accent plant to tuck into one side. We have a few perennials leftover from last year and two mint plants potted, but it’s looking rather bare out my window at the moment.

Oh and in other devastating news, my hen & chicks, which I’ve had since we moved here in 2010, died this year. I’ve left them out over the winter every year, but this year proved too cold for them. Poor things. I feel like I’ve lost some old friends.

My dad put in an outdoor outlet for us, so we can hang lights and make it a party-like atmosphere out there and I bought some fun new pillows for the love seat. Yesterday I spent some time sweeping up and moving furniture around. Hopefully we’ll make some progress out there this weekend (and in our community garden plot too!) and I’ll have more to share next week!

Have a good weekend!

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Paper Weaving Party

paper weavingI mentioned here that I had some ladies over on Sunday night for a casual evening of paper crafting. We all worked on paper weaving projects, both big and small. I’ve been wanting to do some paper weaving for awhile now, and the stars finally aligned for all of us to get together and try it out. We each tried something different… Linda did a weaving with a vacation picture and a journal page, Jackie worked on a fabulous sushi weaving and a huge weaving of British-themed papers, Karen practiced with some old craft papers and I was aiming to finish a small piece of art for the bathroom. My creation is one of the three DIY art pieces that I mentioned during my Summer Manifesto. (“Summer” is going to extend into September around here!)  paper weaving The weaving is made from four different 12×12 scrapbooking papers, all shades of grey of course. I am going to put in into one of these frames (I have an extra) and hang it in the master bath. I added the shiny silver at the end and I quite like the little shine it adds to the otherwise monochromatic (aka DULL) weaving. (For the record, I like monochromatic…and dull.)paper weaving I’m waiting until after our vacation to frame it and hang it. I’ll share that with you when it’s all ready. Perhaps when that is done, I can actually show you the bathroom?

For today, I am dealing with a broken air conditioner (nothing like shelling out money for that right before vacation!), cleaning our apartment and trying to get our ducks in a row with cat/house/garden sitters and packing. I can’t believe Japan is just a few days away!!

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