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Find the Funny

stairs with miceYesterday afternoon found me balancing precariously on a stool, skirt tucked into my undies (my outfit of choice when I have to immediately repair, paint or make a mess in my house) trying to spackle some holes in the ceiling; bits of old plaster were falling into my eyes, the new spackle plopped onto my hair, and the neighbor drove by and waved at me through the front window. The cat had just stuck his paw into the spackle (which was very nicely pink), and the dog had decided it was time to lick the plaster dust off my toes.

It was at this moment that I rolled my eyes, looked over, and saw the fork in my geranium. It made me smile to see the gorgeous salmon pink geranium with its vintage fork sitting in the dirt. I had curled the silver tines with a pair of pliers, and intended it to hold up the geranium, but instead it had just become a decoration that I move from plant to plant. Last month it was sitting in the rosemary, and today it was sharing space with the geranium (looking far more clean and organized than I was).

Whether it is a fork in a plant, or a book that makes us laugh out loud, we should always make room for less serious things amidst the decorated pillows and the careful placed sofa’s. I love placing (and discovering) unexpected things in a home that makes us smile; it doesn’t have to be a rubber chicken hidden in a cupboard, but we should always design some laughter into our house.

I have a book called Zombies have Issues that sits next to my favorite inspirational books; I did it on purpose, just because the title (and the entire book) makes me laugh. Whenever I reach for inspiration, I can guarantee you that I will always pick up the zombie book first.

It doesn’t have to make sense, but adding a touch of humor to your home is always a good thing.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph of mice on stairs from Homeedit

Yesterday, class was all about color (pattern and texture)! Students learn how to read (see) select, and coordinate. And that’s the key to color. So how do you read color? By learning about how colors are mixed, whether that means with another color or adding an analogous hue like black, brown, or white. By combining these together, colors now have what’s know as an undertone. If you can identify what the undertones are, you’ll be able to put an array of color combinations together with ease. One of the ways the students learn how to do this is by using a color wheel. The color wheel is a valuable tool that allows you to see how colors can be used together and what combinations will give you the look you want.

Do you see those arrows? That’s a guide (cheat sheet) to be able to create endless color palettes. However, it does have its limitations, so it’s just one of the tools we use to uncover how to coordinate.

The photos above is from Thrifty Décor Chick. She’s chosen to paint the cabinet blue, but surrounded the cabinet with shades of green and violet. This is a color scheme used to enliven a space (clearly), but do you know what it’s called?

Answer correctly and you will receive a special color analysis. I will choose a person randomly from the correct replies. Good luck!

(Contest ends Friday and I’ll announce the winner on Monday. http://beautifullivingstyle.blogspot.com/2015/04/its-all-about-color-its-class-week.html)

Notes on a Shelf

kitchen - open shelving1When I moved into my house, I knew immediately that I wanted open shelves on either side of the kitchen sink. Instead, I had lovely (new) oak cabinets.

Not wanting to be ungrateful, I accepted the cabinets for years, because that seemed like the right thing to do; they were good quality, and they showed absolutely no sign of growing old. But, I never stopped wanting shelves; my kitchen is very small, so I knew that shelves would make it look larger, and I wanted to add some character to the well-used, but slightly neglected space.
At the mere mention of open shelves, the first word I get from anyone is a very adamant no. It is the sudden fear of having to be neat and tidy. It’s true; it does mean that our dishes have to be stacked, and cups need to be sitting on something, but don’t we do that anyway? Most people don’t shove their plates into a cupboard, slam the door, and hope that nothing falls out when they open it again. I really don’t think we are all as messy as we think.

The next protest comes from the worry that our dishes might not be pretty enough, or as luxurious as the ones we see in the magazines. I don’t agree with this at all, because even if we live on paper plates and little packets of stolen ketchup, they can still be stacked neatly or put in a decorative container.

Lastly, the other open shelf worry is that things will get dusty, which leads to more cleaning. The funny thing is, when we have things out, we tend to use them more, which means they have to be cleaned. And, if we don’t use them, they will probably get dusty and dirty anyway, so either way they will have to be cleaned at some point.

I am embarrassed to say that this assorted jumble of thoughts sat in my own head for nearly ten years, until one afternoon when I really hated my kitchen, and decided it was time to stop worrying about the oak cabinets. Last I checked, they didn’t worry at all about me, and I knew I had been taking good care of them for a very long time.
Ripping them out was my first instinct, but as that was more than I was willing to tackle, I settled for taking the doors off and pretending to myself that I had just discovered shelves. Within minutes the doors were off, and it turns out that I was never that messy after all. An hour later I was organized, and my kitchen looked twice the size, and so much more interesting than it had before I had eaten my lunch (and, the dishes that I have aren’t fancy or remotely coordinated).

The next day I spackled the holes, and decided to paint the cabinet frames cream. Why this all took so long is beyond me, but my (new) pretend shelves were definitely worth the wait.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com

Sadly, the beautiful photograph at the top is not of my kitchen – it is from www.bhg.com via Pinterest.

ice cream cup 3
In an ideal world, we want our home to be beautiful and practical all the time, but life is never ideal, and when we have to choose we tend to focus on the practical part first (because it seems like the right thing to do) then we decorate (leaving the fun stuff until the very end (or never).

Unfortunately, once we grow up we become more sensible, and we want to get everything right, without being frivolous or wasting too much time; it’s a bit like forcing ourselves to eat all of our broccoli before we’re allowed to taste the ice cream, when sometimes, just sometimes, we really should have the ice cream first (with sprinkles).

Right now, I am a little overwhelmed by my Living Room. It looks like Winter; like I am settling in for a long nap with a cozy fire, warm plaid blankets, and lots of art and books. With daffodils starting to peek through the ground it feels wrong, and I am also feeling incredibly impatient. I don’t want to  neatly label boxes and take my time trying to decide what to donate, keep and trash, I want to move things around and make it look pretty. I want instant gratification, and I want it now.

So, that’s what I am going to do as soon as I finish this blog. I am going to ignore the rules (well, most of them) and take out what I don’t like in the room anymore; a picture that has faded, a few too many rocks that I can’t remember where I got them from, and a candle that I keep moving around (constantly hoping that one day I will learn to like the person who gave it to me). I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I don’t like to look at things that bother me (this could be open to interpretation I know, but that is the beauty of decorating. It is one of the easiest things to control in our lives, so why should we look at things that don’t give us joy?)

In a couple of hours I know that I can pack up what I don’t like, take the pictures off the walls, pile all my knick-knacks and books on the table, and move the furniture to one side. Then, I will spackle and paint the nail holes (most important, because otherwise I will just plonk it all back up in the same spot again, which defeats the whole process). And, if I am rushed and have to spackle with toothpaste, and the paint doesn’t match exactly when I get up close without my glasses, that’s okay. I am looking for something fresh and pretty in an afternoon, not perfection.

When I put it all back, it might not be a candidate for HouseBeautiful, but I make no apologies, and it will be just right for me…

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Homemade Ice cream from Glamorous Glutton, and chairs from Lucy Merchant via Fresh Home.

crooked lamp andrew oliver

After a month with lots of weather (yes, that is what I have decided to call it now; not bad weather, a few Winter Storm’s, or the worst February ever, just lots and lots of weather) I found myself wandering through shops online, and trying to remember outfits that didn’t require a scarf and boots (usually my favorite thing to wear, but I think I am actually starting to scowl at them now when I see them waiting by my front door).

Internet shopping is so much easier than it used to be, and I am sure it is a favorite Winter activity for many of us, but in spite of its ease, large purchases for our home should probably still be approached with a small level of caution.

I wrote a while ago about redecorating my daughter’s room, and buying her a new bed, but what I didn’t mention was that the bed that she wanted (a low, black platform bed) had to be ordered online. It was a lesson that made me both appreciate, and fear, online shopping. I had never bought anything like that, sight unseen, but I feel fairly confident with a few tools, and the process seemed to be as simple as ordering a pizza with a few extra toppings.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t like ordering a pizza at all; a couple of weeks later it arrived in a box that was about 1 x 8 feet, and weighed almost 300 lbs. We had to pay extra to get them to bring it into the house (thank you very much), and an additional charge if we wanted it carried upstairs. Needless to say, the box sat in the Living Room for a week while I unpacked it and took the pieces up to her room a few at a time.

When I had got over my shock, I started to lay out the pieces according to numbers and letters. Of course, some of the numbers were missing, and I seemed to have 27 screws instead of 22, but I still knew that it wasn’t going to be that complicated. Daylight came and went, and I started to curse the reviews that said it was quick to assemble, and the instructions were easy to follow.

Umm, no, they weren’t. It took me almost two days, and a tube of extra strong wood glue, to get it to look like the picture. Maybe I didn’t need the glue, but by the end of the second day I wanted to take the entire thing and fling it out of the window, so the glue was definitely the way to go. The bed actually turned out great, but I would not recommend it to anyone with limited patience, limited time and a bad back.

In spite of my experience, I do still shop online, and I will recommend it, but I now have a check list before I click that final button.

  • I try to read as many customer reviews as I can.
  • Check measurements and shipping box sizes, to see if they will fit through my door, up the stairs, and around the corner.
  • Look at the shipping charges; especially if the item is particularly heavy, or a funny shape. If they are unclear, I call the company and ask.
  • What is the return policy? Is there a time limit, a fee, refund or exchange only?
  • Do they have a “Ship-to-Store” option? Would this be easier, or more difficult (it is usually free, but can also be more inconvenient as well).
  • If it is an upholstered or decorative accessory, can I see the colors and patterns clearly? Will they send me a sample before I order?
  • Will it be a lot of assembly? Do I have someone who will help me, and will I need special tools? Do they offer online assistance if I have a problem putting it together?
  • If it is a large item, ask what happens if I am not home to accept delivery. Do they leave it at the curb, or return it to the truck? Will there be an additional fee? (Sounds crazy, but I was honestly told that if we weren’t home, they didn’t need a signature and they would leave the 300lb box at the end of my driveway).
  • With case goods (chairs, tables etc.) I read the description, and make a decision based on my budget, what I really need, and how long I would like the item to last. (Try to find out if they use glue, veneer, paper-clips, hardwood, pine, bubble gum or screws to hold it together).
  • If I shop late at night, or the wee hours of the morning, I save the item in my shopping cart until daylight. Then, I check it all again, take a sip of coffee and click “Pay Now”….

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Delightfully Crooked Lamp by Andrew Oliver

As I’ve said before….color is a language all its own. Anthropologie gets that, which is why you can find their colorful window displays all across the country. (Follow #AnthroWindows on Instagram to see what I mean.)

So let’s talk color. And since Valentine’s Day is just a couple of days away, let’s talk red…

Red is a very emotionally intense color. It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, our appetites, and raises blood pressure. It has very high visibility, which is why stop signs, stoplights, and fire equipment are usually painted red. In heraldry, red is used to indicate courage.

Red gets you noticed, so consider using different shades when marketing yourself or your services. Red brings text and images to the foreground. Use it as an accent color to stimulate people to make quick decisions; it is a perfect color for ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Click Here’ buttons on Internet banners and websites. In advertising, red is often used to evoke erotic feelings (red lips, red nails…). This color is also commonly associated with energy, so you can use it when promoting energy drinks, games, cars, items related to sports and high physical activity.

There are many faces to the color red. It’s the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with war, danger, strength, power, determination, as well as passion and desire. Depending on its saturation in can represent joy, sexuality, passion, and sensitivity. Red signifies romance, love, and friendship. It denotes feminine qualities and passiveness. And it’s associated with vigor, willpower, rage, anger, leadership, courage, longing, malice, and wrath.

Bring some red into your life when you want: increased enthusiasm and interest; more energy, action and confidence; to go after your dreams; or protection from fears and anxieties.

You may also like: Meaningful Color, Coral Reef, and Ravishing Red. Go back to the home page (click on the BL logo above), then type in ‘color’ in the search box for more inspiration.

Home scrabble3

I read something the other day, and it became one of those Ah-ha moments; not exactly Oprah-worthy, but it definitely made me pause and wonder if it was really true. I decided that it was.

I can’t remember where I read it, but I think it might have been in my Dentist’s waiting room, so it was probably Good Housekeeping or something like that (so nice to be in a waiting room that had magazines for absolutely everyone – Popular Mechanics was sitting quite happily next to In Style and National Geographic. I liked that; he struck me as a very thoughtful Dentist).

So, what I read was that when we are decorating our homes, we should always try to have something from our past, present and future. Ideally, they should be where we can see them (a kind of effortless, subconscious nudge that appears when we least expect it).

I always knew that these were the necessary parts that made up the whole, but to hear it put so simply was a good reminder, and had more of an impact than I thought it would.  It actually makes so much sense. The theory being that we should be remembering, experiencing and dreaming all the time; that we can use our homes to help us fully participate and enjoy our lives, without becoming stagnant, or accidentally stuck in one spot.

I am not one for making up rules (especially when it comes to our homes) but I think I like this one the best.

Home scrabble from www.etsy.com
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