finishing off our refinished deck with new furniture

There is one advantage to waiting until the summer season is half over to think about deck furniture: Sales! After seeing how nice our repainted deck looked once that project was finished, we decided it was time to step up our outdoor seating arrangements. Our previous table and chairs consisted of a slightly wobbly one that Chad made (though he gets an A for effort) and some blue plastic chairs from Ikea. Since we were already rocking a “vintage” look on our front porch with this glider, we thought we should steer in a similar direction in the back. (And honestly, I’m a little bored with the ubiquitous chunky teak/wood furniture all the catalogs have been selling this year.) At the oddly names site, we found this nearly perfect round white metal table with matching blue and white chairs on sale for $350. When it arrived, we were a little worried to see how low the table was, but once you sit back in a chair, preferably with an open bottle of craft beer in your hand, it feels just right.

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squirrels, you’re off my nice list: a new kind of home invasion

We used to have an affinity towards squirrels. We placed them on our Thanksgiving table. We thought they were cute on an office desk. We even decorated our nurseries with them. Sure they would occasionally ruin a flower bed in the garden, but hey, that’s their domain, isn’t it? But now, squirrels, you have gone too far. You are officially on my rats-with-tails list.

You see, the other day we came home to discover this: a hole in our kitchen screen window. No, make that two holes. It seems that a bulb of garlic was just soooooo tempting to one of our yard squirrels that he (or she), gnawed right through our window screen and dragged it outside. Since that wasn’t tasty enough, he returned and nibbled on an apple that was on our counter. A palette cleanser, perhaps?

The next day, we borrowed a no-hurt trap from a neighbor and placed it near the scene of the crime. It took about two seconds to catch squirrel A. We transported him to our nearby woods reservation, and then did a step-and-repeat with his little co-hort.

The screen has yet to be repaired.

Have you had any invasive encounters with squirrels in your home? Share your dramas here!

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freshening up a funky bathroom: finding the right fixtures

This is a sponsored post.

A bathroom renovation has been on the agenda since the day escrow closed on our house. We’ve been doing what we can to fix our eyesore of a bath without any demolition: notably converting a traditional door into a mini french door to open up the space and swapping out a rickety towel rod for rope cleats that function as towel hooks. We’re itching to rip out the too-big toilet and cultured marble vanity — and yes, that is a sheet vinyl shower surround.

Finding the right fixtures has been a big hold up on our renovation process. We want something modern, but not TOO much so, as our house is mid-century — and the footprint needs to be small, as our bathroom is a tiny closet of sadness and despair. I know that finding a combination of size, look, and god-forbid functionality is a tall order from a bath fixture, but I’ve found all of these showers by Mira Showers. I’m absolutely swooning for the clean lines of the Mira Miniluxe ER. The exposed riser is a nod to the classic exposed plumbing often found in vintage homes, but with a decidedly more modern vibe. I’m torn between the Miniluxe and the minimalist luxury of the Mira Agile which would have the added bonus of a second hand-held shower head. Not only are both these choices visually attractive, but the showers from Mira Showers have a patented Magni-flo technology which will ensure a full deluge even at low pressure. And this lazy housekeeper won’t have to worry about limescale either, since the nozzles are designed to just rub clean.

We’ve already purchased the sink — after I wrote about it here way back in 2009. We just can’t pull the trigger on the darn faucet. I want a sturdy fixture that is 100% brass — but those can cost a hefty sum. I actually found a few options I like here and here — at Overstock, of all places. As for the toilet, after hours of measuring and internet review reading, I think we’re going with the Ariel Platinum Anna toilet, which has the smallest dimensions I’ve found. And in our lil’ loo, every inch matters.

What would you do with this little bathroom? We’re thinking white walls and subway tile, dark grout, and glossy black or dark gray floors. Clean, classic with a touch of modern — our goal is to open the space up and add some luxury to our modest bath!

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steal this idea: jewelry display as decoration

I’ve recently started wearing more jewelry. Consider it a product of getting older, but I decided I need a tad more “bling” above the neck. I had my ears re-pierced and have started collecting cute studs and delicate charms on chains to match around the neck. Mind you, my idea of bling is still pretty tame, but I have fallen in love with one or two chunky necklaces recently. (Jcrew, you know me too well.)

The problem is, each night I remove my body decorations and place them in little trinket holders on my overly crowded dresser top. In the morning, I squint in low light to retrieve the matching earring I am seplaceing for, and often I fail at the task. I’m determined to create a new way to display and organize my jewelry. I want something that helps me see all my options.

This bedroom photo from Houzz totally inspires me. Though my collection is not nearly as great as the one on display here, this bungalow’s bedroom has one whole wall dedicated to its owner’s sparkles.

How do you organize your jewelry at home? I need more ideas. Help!

To see more from this house, by Bosworth Hoedemaker architects, visit this Houzz gallery.

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adventures in beekeeping 2.0: lots of work and two stings down

It’s been about six weeks since we installed our new hives at our house upstate by the Hudson and we decided it was a good time to see how they were doing. (Though we had peeked in after the first two weeks, just to make sure that the queens had safely gotten out of their little boxes and were busy laying eggs.) From the moment the two boxes of bees arrived, one of them seemed to be a bit more lively than the other, and that still holds true a month and half later. The “pink” hive has not progressed nearly as much as the “blue” hive. Rather than branching out and filling all the files, the pink hive has concentrated their efforts in the middle, between two frames that had a bit more space between then than the rest. We didn’t even pull it out to look at it because it would have broken its structure. The blue hive is totally cranking. They have nearly filled the entire base box and we gave them a second tier so they could expand. The base hive is where the queen remains, any tiers that get filled above it is where you can draw honey from.

In this photo, above, you can see how some of the cells are getting capped off. When all the frames are completely full and capped off, the bees will move to the next level. Because the queen will stay on the first level, there will be no eggs or baby bees on the second level. It’s all honey, honey, honey.

To help give our little honey bees a little boost, we filled a large dog water dispenser with sugar water (2lbs of sugar). We placed sponges in the base container so they wouldn’t drown. They really seem to be enjoying it, swarming around it all day.

We do have two stings to report: Chad got one behind his ear when he was mowing the lawn (that really makes them mad) and poor Cupcake got one on his left thigh. Maybe they thought he was a brown bear coming at them. Perhaps we should get him one of these: A dog beekeeper suit!

Want to know more? See photos and videos of the installation of the hive, here.

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