Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Master Bath Pt 1: It Started with the Vanity

Call me crazy, but I'm the kind of person who likes to rip the bandaid off to minimize the inevitably painful experience of a sore getting exposed. If you recall last week's post of our kitchen, we are in the throes of some updates there. That project should be benign compared to what I'm about to share today regarding our master bath.

Mr. P. is tall, a foot taller than I am. Our master bath vanity is standard sizing....30" high and 30 years ago standard. He's been wanting a new vanity for years. I've had issues with the shower. The shower head is high and hard to reach, the non-existing shelf is the exterior framing's ledge, totally out of my reach, and there's no place to hang a wet washrag inside.
While this bathroom is tired, it's still in excellent working order overall. It's very spacious, too.
The jacuzzi tub is hardly ever used anymore, but that surrounding deck makes an awesome bench for Mr. P. to sit and put his shoes on. The master closet is directly across from it (visible in the lead photo above, where the louvered doors are ajar right behind the entry door to the bath from the master bedroom).
Yea, I know. Mirrors everywhere. Brown phone on the wall, Hollywood glamour lighting over the vanity, brass and wood-trimmed faucet handles. It's all there. However, in its defense, it is also very light and bright in there, thanks to those mirrors, lights, and two skylights in the lofted area above the vanity and shower.
The marble tile we both still like; however, it is porous.
Did I mention this bathroom is equipped with a bidet? It gets used even less than the jacuzzi. That's valuable real estate in the area of this bath.

So, what are we going to do? We've decided to GUT the bathroom.

We have been in the planning stages of both the kitchen and master bath projects since October 2016. Between two pairings of designers and contractors who made proposals based on our communicated specs, we made our final cut as to whom we chose to work with in late December. Our designer is acting as general contractor for sourcing and sequencing the contracted labor and [most] materials, based on our final design. I am the project manager - of the designer, labor contractor and Mr. P.  :-0 January was full throttle planning and consulting with the designer and labor contractor, as well as in-depth researching of materials, fixtures, and appliances. February has been about making decisions, purchases, and organizing 'stuff' (read: moving and going nowhere). We are officially in the queue for work to begin this week coming. The kitchen will be first, the bathroom will immediately follow.

I have no idea how long these projects will take (whatever the contractor says, double it, right?), but hopefully they will both be tolerable experiences with better than planned outcomes. It is going to be HUGE for both me and Mr. P. Some people are just cut out for this kind of thing. We are not those kind of people. If I'm seemingly out of pocket on the blog, you'll know why. Right now, we don't even have any planned vacations for 2017, but you can bet we'll be needing one (together, I hope) when this is all over.

Stay tuned for the inspiration board, design and materials selections, and other related adventures in this home improvement series. It may end up just being an 'after', depending on how life goes, we shall see, and only time will tell.

As always, your visit today is welcome and appreciated, and so are your comments. I really appreciate every single comment and all the encouraging words received on the kitchen project. 
Rita C. at Panoply

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Kitchen Pt 1: It Started with the Fridge

Mr. P. likes quiet (too late, he married me!). All kidding aside, he always has enjoyed quiet. Probably one of his favorite pastimes is reading in the quiet. The fridge was it always does. However, Mr. P. was noticing it much too often as he sat in his favorite chair, reading, in the nearby family room area. I still do not notice the motor running. That said, discussion of making some updates to the kitchen began.
Oh, and I didn't mention the icemaker quit working a few years ago, did I? After two repairs, the last of which resulted in sending the repairman away and a refund, I was okay with using ice trays again. The current refrigerator is 66 5/8" tall, and they're not made that small anymore. There's always a catch, right? I finally conceded we needed to buy a new fridge, but drug my feet (more than a few years), knowing I wouldn't find the same size with the features wanted (and noise level is not a feature measured, as it is with dishwashers). Also, I had yet to figure out if that cabinet above the fridge could stay (my wish), or would end up a shelf, or completely gone. The proverbial stone was about to begin rolling. Mr. P. was also bothered by the scuffed [wood] edges of the [formica] countertops, wanting to have them refinished., thank you. I'll take new countertops instead, please and thank you.
While we're at it, we never use that wine rack either, and I'd like to change it to open shelving for plate display.
Oh yea, on that island's left-hand side? That's a state-of-the-art, 1980s built-in blender station. It's outta here. See that microwave on the counter? That's there because the state-of-the-art 1980s top, dual cooking, oven/microwave's timer quit working and has to be watched for microwaving (both ovens work fine otherwise).

This pantry is staying! It is the bomb for kitchen storage.

At this point, even though they are all still working after 30 years, all appliances are under serious review. This will include cooktop, dual ovens, dishwasher, trash compactor, and disposer. Even though it is a given that no replacement will likely last more than 1/3 of the current life of these appliances, I do not want to face the issues of replacement anytime soon again, especially after we have pricey stone cut for countertops.

This, my friends, is an excellent example of scope creep. We needed a new fridge, and we're all but gutting the kitchen. I honestly love my kitchen, funky built-in blender and all, and that is why we are not doing a complete gut job. I would simply replace my fridge...if the manufacturer's planned obsolescence in sizing wasn't an issue.

Did I mention my desire for under cabinet lighting? Kitchen sink? Why yes, let's throw those in, too, along with a new sink over at the wet bar.

Stay tuned for the design selections, which have been a very labored exercise in material and appliance comparison shopping. Mr. P. loves Consumer Reports, and typically consults it for major purchases. However, I have a sister and niece who each purchased the Samsung washing machine which was recalled for exploding (!) , yet was rated highly in CR. I'm fastening my seatbelt, as I think it's going to be a bumpy ride of home improvement projects in 2017. This is not my cup of tea.

As always, your visit today is welcome and appreciated, and so are your comments. And if you have any pearls of wisdom for me, I'll welcome those, too.
Rita C. at Panoply

Sunday, February 5, 2017

State of the Winter Garden 2017

We live in a Region 7A - middle south - agricultural zone (see below, as realigned per the USDA in 2012 from 6B, or upper south), which basically means we see all four seasons, but plant hardiness has shifted somewhat. We can't rely on plants such as white paper birch to thrive in our heat, but crepe myrtle more reliably flourish through our winters.
While I am not a fan of winter, I suppose it wouldn't be winter without snow.  Our first winter snow of 2017 arrived on January 6th.
Only an accumulation of 4", but the freezing temperatures and wind chill in the few days following that snow were enough to convince me it was winter in our region, indeed. We walk nearly 3 miles almost every day, and those few days were days of layering long underwear under regular clothing!
We had a layer of ice under that snow in the wee hours, but it sure didn't stop a kid spotted in the neighborhood on a bike. I couldn't believe he was riding on that ice! By the time we were well into our walk, though, the snow was melting from travel and treatment on streets and sidewalks.
That snow was completely gone a few days later, with warming temps that had us feeling like it was spring! This kind of winter weather is much more typical further south of us, but I quite like the more moderate temps.

Apparently, our power company also liked the warmer temps, and they had their tree-cutting contractors out again. If you recall, I had a stay of execution on the tree on my property that camouflages the utility pole at back center of my landscape (as seen below last Fall). You can read all about that drama here and here. The contractors' last visit was in September (2016), and I pleaded for at least allowing the tree to reach its color peak and shed its leaves. They obliged.
Maple Tree in full fall color, 2016
When they knocked this time (early January), I answered the door, and happened upon a very reasonable man. He agreed they would cut my tree per my wishes - in similar fashion to the last hard prune we paid for by professionals (because I had seen the contractor's' work through the neighborhood!). This guy also promised to phone ahead when they were coming, so I could 'supervise'. Guess what? He stood by his word! Below is the before and after latest pruning photo of my tree.
Maple tree, before and after hard prune, winter 2017
I know it's a bit difficult to see the silhouette with gray background, but that's a typical winter day here in my region. The guys basically followed the prune cuts from the last job, and left the tree in a nice shape. Mind you, only one guy did the work (the one in red vest), but they changed my opinion of their typical performance with the result of my experience this time.
Power company's contracted tree trimmers
A walk around the yard the same day of the pruning left me a bit surprised. There were several plants showing signs of rebirth - a little too soon - leaving them at risk for the remainder of winter.
Winter sprouts 2017
Clockwise, in the photo collage above, (top L) my irises are pushing through, (R) love-in-a-mist sprouts are in the foreground of nandina in the back corner, and (bottom L) bluebonnets surprised me!
Winter nandina 2017
The front corner of the landscape is thick with a screen of nandina, full of berries (above photo). Only in very harsh and prolonged bitterly cold winters (like 2015) do those plants drop their leaves. Otherwise, they have year-round interest.
Winter 2017 back landscape
The very back of my landscape is where my glider benches flank the central garden flag. I disconnect and cover and all my garden hoses (3) during winter, and you can see one of them behind the hydrangeas in the above photo (far right). You can also see a glimpse of my maple tree just above the brick wall. Other plants visible are pansies (foreground), a lavender plant (behind flag), a cluster of English laurel (Otto Luyken, behind far left bench), and one of a group of three butterfly bushes (pruned, left of bench).
Winter 2017 daffodils emerging - too soon!
Imagine my surprise when I stepped outside on January 20th and my daffodils were already as pictured above! This is really early, too early I'm afraid, to be seeing what appears to be buds. These plants are in my front beds, closest to the river (read: warm). Grass is also sprouting outside the steel edging (reseeded late last fall after my summer annuals spilled over and killed the undergrowth).

If this warming trend keeps up, I may have to break out my new gloves soon and get busy outside. My sister gifted me the gloves pictured below this past Christmas, thinking they'd be helpful in warding off my proneness to poison ivy outbreaks. They're almost too pretty to wear in the dirt!
I'd be really surprised if winter stays as mild as it has been so far. I may have to start thinking about working some other species into my landscape mix. Maintaining year-round landscape interest is my goal, true of most gardeners. I may need to tap into my Southern friends' knowledge base to get some ideas for amending my regional climate twist. Maybe some camellia plantings?

Are you finding you're having to adjust your landscape plantings too? What are your favorite plantings for year-round interest? I'd love to hear your comments. If you love gardening as much as I do, feel free to explore my topic on my main menu, or search the labels (my garden, my landscape garden), or key those words into the search block on my sidebar. It's a favorite topic, hobby of mine. Let's share some dirt!

As always, thank you for your visit to my blog!
Rita C. at Panoply

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Man Behind the Traveling Tote

It'll be nearly two years this spring since I joined the Traveling Totes Tribe, the origin of which began here. I should have known what magic a purse could deliver among friends, as I collect antique purses and am an active member of like-minded friends in the Antique Purse Collectors Society. What I didn't realize was how much fun - both physical and virtual - these traveling totes would deliver! Better still, I had no idea there'd be involvement from Mr. P., the Man Behind the Traveling Tote.
Within approximately one year into having the tote and strategically placing it for photo opportunities on travels, big or small, Mr. P. started offering unsolicited help. In airports, "do you want me to hold that while you go?", or "here, let me put that on my suitcase", or "yes, I'll watch it", etc. Sometimes I'd turn around and slyly snap pictures with both he and Miss Luna C (see above).
When we took our Great American Road Trip last summer, Mr. P. took his role to new heights. He started being my Prop Master - again, unsolicited. This first happened at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis (see above - the photo I cropped and posted, and below, what my camera actually captured with him in the frame).
We went inside the arch and took a tram to the top in a space capsule-like enclosure that struck us both as hilariously funny. I knew I wanted to use the photo op for my tote (Miss Charley C), but I also caught Mr. P. in a few candid shots too. :)
Little did I know Mr. P. would create my personal favorite entry yet of the Traveling Tote photo diary when he suggested and acted as prop for Miss Charley C at Mt. Rushmore (below). He actually directed this one, lol, hiding behind the stone column and telling me how to take the picture.
By fall of 2016, every time we traveled, Mr. P. was helping me concoct new stagings for creative ways to share how my totes - Miss Luna C and Miss Charley C - galavant along with us. As seen below, Mr. P. happily stood below a spacecraft mock-up in the Johnson Space Center in Houston. This was one of the few photos where he actually posed vs. being caught candidly (or hiding in a staged picture). I liked this one because it appeared he was about to be crushed by the leg of the spacecraft - unbeknownst to him.
Throughout the space center, he kept seeing opportunities that I would have totally missed, like in the mock-up vehicle center (below)....
....or in the Rocket Park, where a Saturn 5 is housed.
Very often, when I'm out and about without Mr. P., I overlook photo ops by simply being caught up in the moment. One thing's for sure, the man behind the tote has certainly made the Tales of the Traveling Tote even more fun. The friendship among my tote friends has gone well beyond blogging, and for that I am truly surprised, yet ever appreciative.
I don't know where my totes will go in 2017, but it's bound to be a fun time. If you'd like to catch up on these adventures, I have a separate menu tab just for it, or you can search by the labels on my sidebar. I always keep a preview gadget on my sidebar so you'll know when the next installment is coming (March 1), and it typically links to my most recent post.

Take a peek and meet a few of the "other men behind the totes" in the links below.
These totes have taken on a life of their own, I tell ya! You know a purse is famous when you find yourself in a grocery store (early December), and someone who you've never met before calls out, "I'd know that tote anywhere". She was a local reader of my blog and, even though I'd never met her, she knew my mother from days of carpooling her kids while my mom carpooled my brother's kids. That was fun!

Speaking of life, Mr. P. just celebrated what would be considered a milestone birthday (it's a biggie, and divides evenly by a primary number, just sayin'). Here's hoping we celebrate many more. Maybe I should have bought him his own tote?!

As always, your visit today is welcome and appreciated, and so are your comments.
Rita C. at Panoply

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Winter Cardinal Table for Two

A table for two may immediately conjure thoughts of a romantic setting, sharing an intimate meal with a partner. My interpretation today of a table for two takes us in a different direction. May I suggest, if one is single - for whatever reason - that the interpretation of a table for two could be for one's self and a friend, relative, or loved one - past or present - you'd most want to share an intimate meal with? Those were my thoughts with today's tablescape, a Winter Cardinal Table for Two.
January is my self-proclaimed month of quiet, and I wanted that same feeling in my table setting. We live in a region with all four seasons, and while I don't particularly like January - cold, barren, and snowy - I do appreciate the quiet time it ushers in after the holidays. It's also a time of celebration in our household - Mr. P.'s birthday - but it's also a reflective time for me - the month my mother passed (ten years ago). While I certainly will celebrate life and love with Mr. P. at every chance I get, sharing another meal and conversation with my mother would be one opportunity I'd very much cherish!
Winter's snow, ice - or even just the hardened ground - all have birds scampering for food and shelter during a season of mostly gray days. For some people, shorter daylight hours bears a real impact on the psyche, recognized by the medical community as seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.).
That said, rays of sunshine in January are that much more a welcome sight!
A cardinal sighting is especially welcome in winter, with its bright red coloring against an otherwise gray background, and its song of "♫cheer, ♫cheer, ♫cheer" to bring you none other than! According to Native American interpretation, a cardinal sighting which captures your attention symbolizes harmonious, monogamous relationships, or the potential for one in the near future if single. Cardinals are also a species in which the male/female each have distinctive song, known in nature to be two-way communication between the pair.
In Christianity, the cardinal represents the fire and vitality of the living spirit, the blood of Christ and the hope of resurrection for humanity through His death.

Cardinal symbolism suggests its sighting signifies a visit from a loved one who has already passed, a sort of messenger left for personal interpretation or meaning.
Photo of Cardinal at St. William Catholic Church, Cincinnati, OH, by Joe Baldwin. Used with permission.

So, a winter cardinal table for two is left for your personal interpretation - a symbol for a romantic partnership, and/or a symbol of cheer, of faith in yourself, your circumstances, or even thoughts of loved ones who have already passed.
You may be single, by chance or by choice, or in a rich relationship with a partner. Either way, a table for two could be simply a thoughtful interpretation, or a physical reality.
While I can certainly abide by the idea of romance and celebrating life in a table setting for two, I also like the interpretive idea of an opportunity of having a conversation with my mother. Perhaps the cardinal is that symbol that the opportunity is there, if just in thought.

Who would you most want to share your table for two with?
Tablescaping is one of my favorite topics here on my blog and, while I typically share my vintage collections in doing so, today's table is mostly a mix of newer, more readily available items. The complete source list follows.
Winter Cardinal Table for Two Source List:
Winter Cardinal China, Beaded Napkin Rings  - Kohl's
Red Chargers, Faux Snow - Michael's
Red Flatware - Bed, Bath and Beyond
Glass Hurricane(s) - Wisteria
Red & White Snowflake Napkins - Thrift Store
Vintage Anchor Hocking Ruby Red Water Goblets, Cross-stitch hearts - Estate Sales
Wool Felted and Crocheted Bird's Nest - Desert Thread (Moab, UT)

A special thank you goes to Chloe from the blog Celebrate and Decorate for organizing and hosting this winter tablescape event. There are four days of participating bloggers (also at the end of this blog post) that I encourage you to visit. Each blogger is sharing their own interpretation of a Table for Two, sure to pique your creativity. Be a friend, make a friend! 

Thank you for your visit on my blog today. I'd love to get acquainted with you, so feel free to leave a comment here or email me if you're so inclined. You can also subscribe to future Panoply posts by filling out the option on my sidebar.

(A special thanks to Judith of Botanic Bleu in Monday Social #21 and Linda at Coastal Charm's Show and Share #349 for featuring this post!)
Rita C. at Panoply

Friday, January 20, 2017

Jan 2017 Booth Refresh: Moving Things, Big and Small

Although this is my first blog post for the new year, I've been busy in real life, organizing, just as many of you have been. My Panoply sisters and I are continuously planning new ideas/themes for our booth space styling. Today, I'm sharing our January 2017 refresh and reorganization of our booth spaces. Grab a drink, and get ready for some armchair shopping!

For the week prior to Christmas, we clustered all our remaining holiday items and ran a 50% off sale. Boxing up and clearing the spaces of the unsold holiday items, along with selling one very large piece of furniture the week after Christmas, allowed for a great starting point for the new year.

I'll skip most before and after comparatives of changes since our last updates, but you can view our last space updates in this post. Instead, I'll share areas of change and new styling since the holiday stagings. Lots of photos ahead!

What we've always referred to as our main booth currently has a good mix of farm fresh and refined vintage items. My sisters and I each shop and sell individually, but we style our spaces collectively. As part of the refined theme, we were anxious to stage an equestrian estate vignette (seen below). We had several prints and smalls to assemble together, which are the central focus in our main booth space.

On the periphery of the main booth's center, we carefully blended the vignettes until it was pleasing to our eyes moving or "roaming" around the space in its entirety. This "roaming eye" view usually dictates how large pieces are placed in our spaces, with smalls following in staging.
When items staged aren't necessarily of the same eras, it is particularly important for us to "space" the vignettes. The above photo is a good example of spacing items of different eras. The frames in that collage represent opposite sides of the booth space.

Other vignettes come together easily.
We knew we wanted to bring in all items farm-related, but we also planned a few more themes. Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day meant all things representing tokens of love, remembrance and patriotism were brought in. Bringing in boxes of smalls to style is at least equally, sometimes more, time-consuming for us as a day of moving furniture.

One of the areas that felt most refreshing in the new year was the space where we clustered all remaining holiday items when we ran our sale just before Christmas. The photo below is a comparative of how the area looked the week just prior to Christmas (top section), and then just one week after Christmas (bottom section)
Blank space can be good! 
We staged a small New Year's vignette for one week on the front corner of this space (left frame of photo below), and then refreshed it again immediately following the new year.
The photo below shows how we selectively staged a few more things in the curio behind the washstand. This is how it currently looks.
The "mantiques" space is another area that now has some blank space, breathing room. The photo below shows the before, or last week of 2016 (top frame) and after, or first week of 2017 (bottom frame). The farm table underpinning much of that space sold the last week of December.
It's funny, how you overlook clutter until you remove it, isn't it? I think we can all relate.
Sister M refinished the desk we brought in to replace the farm table, and she did a fine job in its finish. She sanded and polyurethane-coated the surface and knobs, and chalk-painted and waxed the base.
Below is a before and after photo of the piece she breathed new life into. It was structurally sound, other than a couple wobbly knobs.
We added yet a few more smalls to this area to round out the farm and mantiques theme, in general. The Mail Pouch graphic sign was bought on a winning bid at an auction on New Year's Eve.
The area we call our formal space ended up with changes mostly just in smalls. It appears we have tea being served. The painted firescreen pictured in the bottom frame of the photo following is positioned just to the right of the tea cart in that same space. It is a hand-painted view of Mt. Vernon and the Potomac River, originally sourced at a benefit auction at Washington's historical home place.
Lastly, the collage below shows most of the smalls we staged in that more formal space.
If ever you are traveling through West Virginia, be sure to plan a stop at the South Charleston Antique Mall, 617 D Street, South Charleston, WV. It's an easy exit and re-entry on I-64, Exit 56. Our mall is open 7 days a week, 363 days a year (closed Easter and Christmas). Business hours are M-Sat 10am - 6pm; Sundays Noon - 5pm. If you ever are planning to stop, I'd love for you to contact me ahead of time - I may very well be free to come and meet you, too!

Thanks for your visit, and your comments are always welcome!
Rita C. at Panoply