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Garden update

So far, still alive.  And this basil smells amazing.That oregano grows like crazy.  I need a use for him.  Any suggestions?

I’m always shocked when I go outside and see how my once baby plants are sprouting and growing.  Since I deleted all information from my mind related to photosynthesis from AP Biology, it’s like plant magic out here.As I was watering these guys the other day, I noticed my tomato plants sprouted baby tomatoes.So cute, no?

My chives are popping up, too.  I was worried about those guys because I started them from seed.  But they sprouted up just fine.  They will extra delicious chopping into chive butter or maybe a chive cream cheese spread.I’m excited to add my orange mint to some black tea.And this cilantro will be perfect in a black bean and corn salad.Do you have a garden?  What’s sprouting?  What are you making with the fruits of your labor?

Bathroom deluxe, now with 100% less mold

While we were at it with all the painting and door installation, we might as well paint the hall bathroom, right?

Why of course!

The major issue with this bathroom is the lack of fan. Turns out, fans are super important because they pull the moisture from hot showers out of the air. If you lack a bathroom fan, like us here at Casa Bagley, you get this lovely coating of mold on your ceiling.

Gross.

Before:

So we thought, while the house is a mess with our painting project and new doors project, we might as well paint the bathroom and do something about the ceiling. Before we painted, I spent some time getting up close and personal with the mold. We figured the paint wouldn’t stick unless we chiseled off the flaking parts of the ceiling and the most egregious mold patchs. Mold patches. I am pretty sure I never thought I’d use the phrase mold patches.

Moving on.

After scraping off as much of the flakey ceiling as possible, I slathered that ceiling with Behr’s heavy duty ceiling paint. The transformation is nothing less than breathtaking, if I do say so myself. Begone, mold patches!

After:

For the bathroom, we went with Behr’s Sage Grey (in the same pallet as the accent wall in the family room in Painted Turtle). I am head over heels for this color. It looks bluer on sunnier days greyer on cloudy days but always soft and sophisticated. Since we repainted, we might as well get some new bathroom accessories, right? I picked up these neutral bathmats and the tan and blue striped handtowel from Target.

The other annoying thing about this bathroom – besides the mold patches – was the towel bar. The towel rod used to live behind the bathroom door, meaning you could never open the door all the way because the rod would smack into the wall. This situation made me want to rip that towel rod off the door and javelin throw it out the door. But I decided a better solution might be to move the towel rod. But to where? This bathroom is tiny and doesn’t give us many options for wall hanging towel rods. So I put on my thinking cap and cruised around Amazon. Oh, Amazon, you have everything! Behold, the answer to my problem: a duel shower rod and towel rod. Praise be.

And now you’ve seen it all. After we finished these projects, Dan and I swore off home improvement. That lasted about 48 hours. And now we’re busy plotting out next home improvement masterpiece. Maybe crown moulding? Or installing a fan in the bathroom? Painting our bedroom? Stay tuned!

From plain and hollow to paneled and regal: our door replacement project

The doors. The pièce de résistance of this mini home makeover project. When we decided to paint, we originally thought we’d just paint the front room. But then, where would we stop? So we decided to continue into the hallway…and then the eating area…and we might as well paint the kitchen.

It’s funny how once you update one part of your home, you realize how yucky the other parts look. So I broached the topic of replacing all our hollow, plain front doors with much more sophisticated and modern panel front doors. Since we were replacing all the bedroom doors, we might as well replace all those awful bifold doors with double doors. See how one project rolls into another and another and another project?

Before:

Anyway, these doors presented pros and cons. Pro: they are inexpensive. I think each door ran about $20. They are easy to paint. And once installed, they look fabulous. And…that’s about it for pros.

The downside? I hope you have a partner as handy as my poker-table building husband because these things are not easy to install. Well, maybe if the walls in your house are actually straight, you wouldn’t have as much difficulty. But working with a 1958 rambler presented many challenges.

It took several days to install these doors because Dan had to first fit them, then take them off for me to paint them, and then put them back on. This process resulted in much mess and gnashing of teeth. And swearing.

But, the result? Oh so lovely. These doors totally changed how I view this house. I didn’t realize how ugly our old doors looked until Dan installed the last door, and I saw the hallway completely transformed.

After:

Swoon. These doors make me feel so regal. And now I am on a quest to erradicate all bifold doors from my life. Watch out, all you hunks of MDF, your days are numbered.

From matte and muddy to fresh and lovely: our massive painting project

Dan and I spent the entire week between Christmas and New Years painting and replacing all the doors on our first floor. To say this was a massive undertaking would be the biggest understatement yet of 2012. We shipped Kate off to both sets of grandparent’s houses for safekeeping while Dan and I slaved away.

Before:

As you can see, before we painted, our walls were roughly the color of…mud. (And clearly I didn’t pick up our household debris this particularly day). And the ceilings were mud colored, too. So, basically, we’ve lived in a mud hut. Oh, and the walls were a matte finish, so anytime Kate rammed her toy stroller into the walls, it left crazy, unremovable scuff marks all over the walls. After two years of living in a dark, dirty, mud hut, we’d had enough.

It took forever to decide on a color. We went to Home Depot and picked up about six paint samples to test on our walls. As soon as we slapped those samples on the walls, it became apparent which were winners and which were dubs. If you are considering painting, most definitely get samples and test the colors on your walls first. The chips can be deceiving.

After considering the colors during the day, at night, in direct sunlight, on a cloudy day, we settled on three colors (all colors are Behr’s Paint and Primer in one):

+Chocolate Sparkle

+Ripe Wheat

+Painted Turle

After:

We decided to paint Ripe Wheat over most the walls and use Chocolate Sparkle as an accent wall in the kitchen and Painted Turtle as an accent wall in the family room. Since we were on a quest to erradicate all mud color, we painted the ceiling Behr’s ultra white ceiling paint, and we painted all the trim in Behr’s Glow.

Usually when Dan and I paint, we tape off. I am not steady enough to keep the paint on the intended wall. But when we were at Home Depot, we found this edger tools from Shurline and decided to give them a try. Since taping can take approximately 481 hours, I figured if this tool worked, it would cut our work time substantially.

Good news! This thing totally works! In our marriage, I am the cutter-inner and Dan is the roller. So while I’m painstainkingly cutting in, he’s twiddling his thumbs waiting to roll. Not with this tool! Man, I whipped around the room! So fast! Super speed! I could edge the entire room before Dan finished rolling one wall. Awesome. This thing is worth every penny.

Now, you do have to be careful. It’s not as if you can just slap the paint on there and willy nilly run the tool along the wall. You need to be careful not to get paint on the wheels or else the paint will smear. Also, you need to work with your walls. If your house was built circa 1958 like my house, well, the walls aren’t straight. So you need to go with your wall and move it in relation to the wall, not in relation to what is technically “straight.”

I am beyond happy with the result. Which is good because about halfway through, I thought, is this really worth it? Why did we decided to do this project? But then, when we were finally through, I’m so glad we took on this project. Creating a space we’re proud of increases my happiness 100 fold. Looks like I’m right on track for creating a space I love – and detoxifying my space from…the mud look.

Kate cam

We are pretty minimalist in terms of baby stuff. When we registered, we didn’t go for wipe warmers, teaching babies how to read videos, nursery water. We’re all about the basics here at Casa Bagley.

So, clearly, we didn’t register or buy a video monitor. It seemed luxury. Why would we need that? I had a regular monitor that picked up Kate’s breathing, so that’s all we needed.

When Kate turned six months, and we were practicing a half cry-it-out, half give in and get her sleeping method, I could see where a video monitor would have proved useful. So often we’re hear her cry out. Then quiet. Then whine. Then nothing. Then screaming. So Dan and I spent hours, staring at each other in the dark and playing midnight games of checkers and Go Fish, trying to decide if we should get her. Since we couldn’t tell what she was doing, we probably guessed wrong half the time.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, Dan snagged a hot deal on an infrared camera. Not a baby monitor. An actual camera that would produce a feed, so I could watch her on my computer screen or via an app on my iPhone. The quality is outstanding compared to the grainy baby video monitors. And now I can see exactly what she is doing.

Which leads me to the point of this post.

It feels kind of wrong. Like I’m invading my toddler’s privacy.

When we were putting it up, I was giddy with excitement. Great! Now I can sneak a peek at her to make sure she’s okay without going in and potentially waking her up.

So that night after Dan put her down, we gathered around my computer screen and watched her. Then looked at each other. And felt like horrible spy parents.

There she was, rolling around in her crib, talking to herself, chatting up a storm. And then after the requisite 20 minutes or so, falling asleep.

I felt bad watching her that first night. And then the next day at nap. By that night I wondered if maybe this was a bad idea.

But then again, watching her sleep is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. Well, next to Kate, herself, in the flesh. And Dan reports it warms his heart to watch her sleeping.

So I decided maybe it wasn’t that creepy of me. And it totally helped me out the other day. About five minutes after Dan put her down, I was working away on my computer when Kate made a huge fuss. Like the type of mayday fuss that meant COME GET ME, WOMAN! So I checked her out on the monitor, and yep, in a failed attempt to remove her pajamas, she had her arms pinned behind her head. So I went in and fixed the situation and went back to watch her on the screen. Crisis averted.

Anyway now I love the video monitoring system. So much I had to share these super sweet shots of my toddler sleeping. Oh, the many sleeping positions of Miss Kate Bagley.

Okay, video monitors – useful or weirdo?

PS – The last picture is Kate snuggling her monkey. And she’s fine. I’m right here, listening to her breathing.

Herbs, continued

Okay, what’s going on here with these herbs?

I posted here and here about my the beginnings of my little herb garden and the exciting moment when the seeds first sprouted. So, now it appears my Basil and Cilantro are doing their thing. I could use the Cilantro now if I would make a meal that features Cilantro, of which I don’t know any offhand. And I bet in a couple of weeks, I can start in on my Basil, and I already plan to make a bunch of pesto.

So, the Oregano, is that how it is supposed to look? I ask because my poor herb garden was infested with some weeds a couple of weeks ago, and I tried my best to pull all those suckers out. It was easy to distinguish the herbs from the weeds in my Basil and Cilantro pots because those both have a certain look. But when it came to the Oregano and Rosemary, I just wasn’t sure.

And, speaking of Rosemary. What is going on in that pot? I think my poor Rosemary is a gonner. This is sad because I had high hopes to make Rosemary focaccia bread. Well, for one, it looks like ants took over the pot and for two, I am not even sure that is Rosemary sprouting. For all I know, it is a weed garden.

Also, I noticed the Oregano seemed to spread to the other pots. Why can’t he stay in his own pot? I am not sure how that happened, but I suppose the wind carried some seeds in or it has to do with some part of plant-life-photosynthesis-thing I never understood in high school Biology class.

I hope this does not set the tone for my luck with gardening. That would be disappointing seeing as I wanted to be a successful herb gardener, so I could graduate to bigger things like tomatoes and the like next year. Dan is not going to trust me to start a bigger garden if I cannot keep the herbs alive.

So, that’s what’s going on with my plants. Can any dispense advice on those Oregano and Rosemary pots? Are they a lost cause? What went wrong? Why did the Cilantro and Basil do okay but the Oregano and Rosemary bit the dust?