A new tree in the front yard

Well, hello my friends!

Have you survived the first fun part of the holidays?  I dare say I have, but I have to admit that I’m still recovering!  HA!

I’m in the thick of holiday shopping… well, no wait… does making a list count?  I have purchased all sorts of things and have no idea where they will go.  Do you do this?  I’m like cute, cute, cute and then Dec. 23rd I’m surrounded by boxes that need to be organized.  Gulp.

Anyway, to really deplete the cash drawer we decided to change out the very large and very beautiful birch tree that graced our front yard for the last 12 years.

Like we had a choice.

You guys.  She died.  And it’s been a few months now that I’ve been mourning her passing – enough so, that I feel I can finally talk about it.  If I tell you that this tree made me love my home before walking into the door, I wouldn’t be lying.  She was stunning.  I even carved my husband and my initials into the tree so that years from now… sigh…

When we painted the exterior in (gasp, where does the time go???) 2015, the birch looked like this… and she continued looking like so until the summer of this year.  She just never really bloomed and it was short lived, and then all her leaves were gone, and then… sob, sob… she was I. Can’t. Even. Say. It.

Last week before we trimmed all the trees and laid Mrs. Birchie down to rest, here’s what I was staring at every day.

Maybe I was hoping that one small leaf would appear and magically she would come back to us.

Turns out that in my neighborhood birch trees are dying like flies… like one nursery told me it’s an EPIDEMIC.  Another one told me that they only live about 10 years.  And yet another said that no one would buy his birch trees because they are so finicky and he would basically give one to me for free.  Why isn’t this in a newspaper?  Birch tree epidemic in Southern California!

So the quest for a new tree ensued and it was rough.  Unless you want to spend a bunch of money on a tree that may or may not like living in your yard, you’re pretty much stuck with something that’s about 8-9 feet tall.  I knew that I would never be able to replace Birchie, so why not go a different route?  I wanted flowers, low maintenance, and low water… maybe a tree that changed with the seasons…

Here were some that I looked at and loved-

Euphorbia Cotinifolia

The leaves of this tree are GORGEOUS and I loved the idea of the color interest in the front yard.  But I didn’t pick it because they are really, really small and take a long time to grow.  They can also be a bit particular.  That being said, I became quite obsessed with this tree and may just put it on my Christmas list.  A 24 gallon was about $280.

Chilean Mequite

Here is a tree that would grow quickly, and wouldn’t need much water.  Yes!  With the right pruning, I would get the sparseness I desired and the sculptural quality I was after.  And no mess, cool leaves year around… yup, this tree has a lot going for it.  But in the end, I felt it looked a bit too desert for the front, however I would certainly consider this tree for other areas of the house.  One of the cheapest of the bunch I could get a larger 35 gal for $250, or 24gal for $165.

Evergreen Pear Tree

This tree looks like THIS in the spring!  I mean, can you even?!  It’s beautiful and it’s green much of the year, but loses it’s leaves in the winter.  So, no, it’s not exactly evergreen.  Go figure.  A hardy tree, I wouldn’t have trouble maintaining it, though it would need a good trimming every year or so to keep it from getting too bushy.  But these babies can get pretty big and I didn’t want a huge ol tree to deal with in 10+ years… so no to the pear.  Though my twins loved this one the most.  For a 24 gal it’s very reasonably priced at $180-225.

So, what did I get?

Can I just say that I’m so weird.  Ok, now we’re clear.

I kept saying that I wanted something different.  Unique.  Not a tree that everyone and their mother has.  Well… I did quite the opposite.

Can you even see her there?  She’s a white bark Crepe Myrtle.  I got a 24 gal for $125 and honestly, I was really drawn to the tree.  A week before I almost bought one for over $600 because it was so big and beautiful, but then this lovely fell right into my lap.

She has 4 trunks… One singe, then a twin, then another single.  Just like my boys.

Ain’t that just the darnedest?!  So, she’s short and not very tall but I love her.  Maybe I will call her Jessica 2.

In the spring she’ll flower like so,

and then her leaves with redden in the fall/winter.  Ironically, there are crepe myrtles ALL over my city and they are thriving.  I just know that this tree will be healthy and live a long life here, and that’s worth a lot to me.  I asked the landscapers about watering and maintenance, and he was like, just water regularly, nothing extra, these are super easy to care for.  Finally, something that I can just enjoy.

You can see here the we also lost 1 of our pines.  They trimmed the other one and we are hoping to save it – it’s looking a little sad and dry these days.

In the top shots of the house you can see those ginormous trees in the background, which are also on our lot.  Those got haircuts as well and there is another new tree in the back.  I’ll save those photos for later.

Progress?  Sometimes we have to do things that we really don’t want to do (like get rid of a much beloved tree) but once we take care of it, a weight is somehow lifted.  With this new little tree, we have something new to look forward to… the flowers in the spring!  And I, for one, can’t wait.

Let’s Just Chat – 2

Hi!

So… I haven’t done much in the last few weeks.  I guess that I’ve been too busy loading up my Chairish shop to really sink my teeth into a new project.  I’ve gotten this goal into my head now, that I’d like to have 200 items in my little on-line shop.  Only 75 more to go!  Should be easy?!

Ha!

Anyway, I thought maybe we’d just chat a bit.  Or rather, I’ll talk and you read…

Just because I haven’t officially started anything new doesn’t mean my wheels haven’t been turning.  I recently ordered a sample from this shop of this Chinoiserie wallpaper.

I have always, ALWAYS loved Chinoiserie and Asian decor.  I’ve dreamt of hand-painted wallpaper since we purchased our home over 12 years ago… but it’s so dang expensive!  Luckily, today there seems to be a lot more options out there for a fanatic like me, who doesn’t want to spend a fortune.  This shop will adjust colors for you and makes the wallpaper custom to your room.  It’s still more expensive than regular wallpaper, but it’s not crazy town.

Have y’all ever shopped the Last Act on Macy’s?  Omg.  It’s SO much fun.  I figured I’d show you some of the things that are in my cart or that I’ve purchased.  Every piece of clothing that I picked here is under $20, and most are seriously less than $15.  Heck, I think the shirts are like $7 bucks or something crazy like that!  It’s insane.

Sanctuary Linen Shorts, Lucky Denim Shorts, Levi’s Palm Tree Romper, Style & Co. Layered Waffle,  Material Girl Jumpsuit, American Rag Flyaway Pants

Project 28 Flannel, Flirt Black Sweatshirt, Flirt Tunic PlaidLevi’s Ankle Snap Skinny, Flirt Cut Out Tee, Hippie Moto Legging

Rebel Boots – $29.33, Pony Sneakers – $20.98,  Ideology Mule Sneakers – $27.93, Baretraps Booties – $29.93

I actually bought the Baretrap shoes and Ideology mules about 2 weeks ago.  The mules are cozy on the feet but there’s not any arch support, so I’m still deciding on those.  The booties run a bit small, but they are so freaking cute!  Gah!  The ones I ordered are actually navy blue and I think would be so great with skinny jeans.  Baretraps for less than $30!!

You’re welcome.

I’ve also recently discovered skin care at TJMaxx… Am I just preaching to a shop savvy group?  Maybe you all already knew this, but they carry some AMAZING brands for waaaaayyy cheap.  I happen to be such a fan of Algenist serums, especially the Genius line.  I recently snagged this for $40, which retails for about $118!!

What I normally do is that when I drop off a package at UPS, I just stop into TJMaxx, check the skin aisle and then leave.  You can get so trapped there!!  The problem is, that you just don’t know when they’ll have what you want – but when they do, man it’s GOOOOOOD!  I’ve also enjoyed this color correcting primer for $10 and this luminizing stuff for $7.   I don’t use them everyday, but hey, for a few bucks you can treat yourself!

What else?!?

Oh ya!

I recently purchased this silk Fortuny Chandelier from an estate sale for $12!

I could NOT believe it when I saw it lying on a dirty old table, under a tree, covered in leaves.  Are you gasping?!  I WAS TOO!  So I snagged it, even though it has a stain on it that’s about 1″x2″.  I’ve really zoomed in on it here.

Any thoughts on how I might be able to get it out?  I contacted Fortuny directly and I have to tell you their customer service is awesome!  They got right back to me and said that there is nothing to be done.  They offered me 20% off a new lamp… which retails for over 2k, so thank you but no thank you!

I’d love to hear any secret silk cleaning tips you may have and I’ll let you know if I’m able to do anything with this gorgeous chandelier!

Making The Old Vanity Pulls New

Hi!

Hope you’ve all had excellent weekends!  You know I’m currently loving the peace in the house on my Monday morning 😉  It looks like a freaking hurricane went through, but at least it’s quiet… amiright?!

Anyhoo, I wanted to show you a few updates in the powder bath and one that I’m particularly happy with- The new pulls on the vanity!  Well, actually they’re not totally new… here I’ll show ya.

Here was my plan showing the vanity with it’s original finish and hardware.  The pulls are actually two pieces, with a flower detail and hanging/swinging part that gets pulled.

I really loved the look of the little brass flowers!!  But how could I keep those…????

My thought was to get an acrylic rod cut to size and use the flowers to hold it in place.  I contacted this Etsy seller, 4CloverInc, who was super nice and cut the pieces down to size for me!  Then I gathered these supplies…

The secret sauce are the tension pins.  I searched high and low for the perfect size and ended up spending some $$ on these because they were literally MY ONLY OPTION!  I use Gorilla Epoxy for lots of stuff, so that’s just a great adhesive to have on hand.

To make the holes for the tension pins, I used three different drill bit sizes.  I started with a bit that has a sharp tip because it really made a great first hole.  (That’s what she said.)

Then I used increasing sizes to get the perfect sized hole for the tension pin.

Aren’t these pictures awesome?  Not.  They didn’t look so badly on my phone, but now, yikes.  At least you know this stuff will work – I promise you that!  Once you’ve gotten the hole drilled, add some epoxy and the pin, and then let it dry.

The only negative was that the existing holes in the vanity were much too high.  I drilled in new holes as far down as I could so that the patch would still be pretty hidden from view.  I HATE when you can see patches… and then people act like you can’t, but you TOTALLY can.  It’s awkward.

Yay!!  But you can’t see the previous holes here… Phew!

There’s one little snag on these pulls, and that’s the clearance between the rod and drawer.  There is not enough room to put my fingers through!  I thought about adding in spacers, but then the flowers would float off the drawer front, and I wasn’t loving the idea.  Honestly, these aren’t used very much (if at all) since they’re in a powder room, so I’m ok with it.  They DO work, which is really all that matters… Oh, and they look cute as hell.

Slowly, (at snail’s pace) I’m making a few additions here and there to the bathroom.  I tried to put in the wrought iron shelving that was in the original plan, but alas, it’s way too tight in the corner.

I do feel like something is missing there, but it will have to be A LOT more narrow.  And the room is certainly in desperate need of art.  It’s just that I’m scared to put stuff up and then I’ll find the perfect narrow piece and have holes in my gorgeous wallpaper!

The fear is REAL.

It’s kinda fun to see how the room turned out from the original plan.  I can’t believe how close it is!

Any ideas for my narrow corner area?  Have you done anything new and fun in a bathroom?