Friday, March 29, 2019

getting closer

Hello friends, and happy Friday. We've had a couple of beautiful "teaser" days here in northern Illinois where the sun is shining and it's warm enough to open the windows. It actually got up to 63 degrees yesterday. I had every window open in the house and the cats went crazy, not knowing what to do. They didn't nap the entire morning - they were too busy running from window to window, sniffing the fresh air and lunging at the birds and squirrels. Good thing we have new, strong screens! I can't tell you how wonderful it is to not only feel the fresh air in the house again, but to hear birdsong all day long. The extended forecast shows much cooler weather and lots of rain, maybe even a little s*** mixed in, so I'm enjoying every moment of this beautiful weather while I can.

And my lilac bush is starting to bloom! Another sure sign of good things to come.

Back at the Big Box Store again - this time looking for a large houseplant to go in a corner (I didn't find what I was looking for). I was so excited to see the pansies are here! Granted, they're inside for now because our weather is still too iffy, but next time I'm in that area, I think I'll get a pot of flowers for my porch and then put them in the garage at night.

The painting of Tim's room and the hall bath is done. You can see what a small bedroom this is. We're making this room into an office (for Brian)/guest bedroom/lounging spot. I wanted a day bed for this room but discovered they are bigger than I thought. So now I'm looking for either a love seat that pulls out into a bed or more of a twin platform bed: Something that doesn't have a headboard. It will go on that wall to the left, towards the window. Which also needs curtains.

This is the only spot that worked for this big desk. I wanted the desk in front of the window, but it blocked the vent. And if I moved the desk over to the right where the vent would be under the opening in the desk, it was too close to the closet door. Why do builders put vents right underneath windows?! I could never figure that one out. We also need to find a desk chair that "goes" with this desk. I've been looking on Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp almost every day. I know eventually it will come to us!

Here's the other side of the room between the closet and the door.

The bathroom color isn't much different than the previous color, though this gray is pretty much a true gray and a little darker. The previous color had slight blue undertones. We also had the painter paint the wood trim at the ceiling white. All I need to do in this room now is decide on shelving for above the toilet and then on the wall to the left, decide whether we want to re-hang the towel bar or find a decorative board with two hooks. I might even look for a new shower curtain.

Bathroom After:

Bathroom Before:

Speaking of painting, I'm working on chalk painting the old window that I've had on my buffet for years. It was getting way too worn and chippy.

See the worn part? That's how it was all over. I didn't sand the window - I was kind of afraid to since it's most likely lead paint. The chalk paint has worked just fine going over all the chipped parts anyway.

An update on my back issues: the x-ray showed I had height loss in L4-5 which basically means disc degenerative disease and then arthritis in L5-S1 (lumbo sacral area). Like I said in my last post, one really needs a MRI to see what's truly going on. When I questioned the nurse who called with the results, she said insurance dictates that you do x-rays first, then physical therapy, then have a MRI if needed. Ah yes, the good old health insurance protocols in the US. In the meantime, a friend of mine gave me a recommendation for a good physical therapist. I called to set up the appointments but can't get in with her until April 23rd. In the meantime, it's all about self-care and doing what I have to do to keep the pain at bay. I can't sit too long and I've also discovered that our living room couch is mostly off-limits for me. It's too soft and doesn't give any support. If I sit on it for longer than just a few minutes or dare to lie down on it to read, my back yells at me when I get up. So I'm staying active, taking walks either around the neighborhood or walking on the treadmill, doing yoga stretches twice a day, using a heating pad first thing in the morning when my back is especially stiff, spraying Bio-Freeze on my back several times a day, and taking CBD oil to take the edge off the pain.

Hope you have a great weekend with some fun plans!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

a sort of discombobulated month

March is a fickle month in northern Illinois. We could have temperatures in the 30's or 70's, rain or snow, endless cloudy days or plenty of sunshine (more unlikely). Signs of spring have finally started here. Daffodils and lilies are poking out of the ground and red-wing blackbirds and Big Fat Juicy Robins have returned. When Zippo was alive, he loved watching the robins out the window. I always told him they were "Big Fat Juicy Robins" when he was staring out the window at them and swishing his tail. I miss him so much. Chipmunks have come out of hibernation too, and are once again running around under the bird feeder, hoping to find fallen seeds.

 Every March, as I scan the ground for signs of green and the flash of the orange breast of robins hopping around, I feel as excited as a little kid seeing the ice cream truck coming down the road. 

Another sign of spring in this area: fruit trees appearing at the big box stores. The outdoor garden center was being set up with the metal display stands and piles of top soil and mulch. That means the pansies will be coming soon. I can't wait to have a pot of their cheery yellow and purple goodness on my front porch again.

Spring projects have started around the house, as well. We hired a neighborhood painter to paint what was Tim's bedroom and the hallway bathroom. We chose the same pale cream color for Tim's bedroom as our kitchen. We really liked the current color of our bathroom, but we couldn't find the old paint can with the name of the color on it. I was ready for a slight change in that room anyway, so after looking at a lot of gray paint swatches, we chose Flannel Gray by Behr. It was a little too dark, so we had the shade reduced by 25%.

Here's the hallway bathroom "before". It's a small room, so not easy to photograph. The brown trim near the ceiling will be painted white. The only reason we're having this room painted in the first place is because the paint was bubbling and peeling. The previous painter used an eggshell finish, which obviously did not stand up to all the moisture in the bathroom. This new painter is using a semi-gloss finish.

I hate having my house in disarray ~ everything from the bathroom and Tim's room is now in My Space (what was Phil's bedroom) and the basement. It didn't seem like there was much in either room, but when you start dismantling a room down to nothing, there's always more stuff than you think. Even the toilet tank is in My Space. It's also very unnerving to me to have a stranger in my house. With having a small house, there's really nowhere for me to "hide" except the kitchen. I guess I could hide out in the basement family room, but I don't like hanging out down there. It's rather dungeon-like. At least in the kitchen, I can be busy making food or using the kitchen table as my office space. Today I made a french potato salad (the recipe can be found here, though I also add a little fresh lemon juice and capers) and Energy Balls.

Back to the painter and it being unnerving having him in the house....he plays sports radio loudly the entire time, which tends to drive me up the wall. I know it could be a lot worse. It could be music I can't stand. I also know that this soon shall pass. And then I get to decide on the fun decorating stuff. Do I want the same sort of shelves going back on the bathroom wall, or something a little different? Perhaps I'll choose hooks for towels on the opposite wall (not shown) instead of a towel bar. As for Tim's room, we still need to decide on a twin or daybed, a rug, curtains and wall art. The room will be a combination guest/nap/TV room and Brian's office space.

Meanwhile, I've done little things to lighten up the house for spring. I've changed out the heavy throws for lighter ones and added pops of yellow for spring delight. All Clementine approved.

I just got a new piece of artwork. Isn't this a beautiful print? I love owls. I never knew this acquaintance of mine was artistic until she started posting photos of her work on Facebook. I was blown away. Lydia sells her work on Society6, if you're interested. Besides owls, she paints moose, flamingos, otters, elephants, ducks, pigs, etc. You can order the prints as wall art, note cards, cushions, bags, apparel, clocks...Society6 will print on basically anything.

I hung the print in my living room entryway for now. Who knows, I might put it somewhere else later. I'm known for changing things around. I also moved a white lamp to the corner to lighten it up for spring. Previously I had a tall silver metallic vase with willow springs and light stalks in it. It was great for winter, but I was in the mood for something lighter.

In other news ~ in my last post, I mentioned my battle with back, hip and buttock pain. It's been on and off since then...but a few days ago, sciatica really set in and I was in so much pain Tuesday night, that I was crying out in pain with every step I took. I could barely walk. I was holding onto furniture and the walls. I didn't sleep most of the night because the pain was keeping me awake. I went to my Primary Care Physician yesterday, even though I knew there wasn't much she could do except prescribe drugs and physical therapy and/or send me for x-rays or a MRI. I was feeling a little better thanks to ibuprofen, but I don't want to rely on that either. She wanted me to go on a Medrol pack (steroids), but I told her I wasn't willing to do that unless it was a last resort. Steroids won't cure sciatica. They simply "put a Band-aid on the problem". Steroids have way too many horrible side effects, including insomnia. I'm not willing to go there right now, trading one problem for another. And then the pain comes back as soon as the steroids wear off, so why bother?

She did send me for a lumbar spine x-ray, which again, I feel is basically useless because all it's going to show is arthritis. It won't show herniated discs or spinal stenosis like a MRI would. I had a MRI on my back about 10 years ago and at the time, that showed three herniated disks. So I don't know if one of them is now worse or if I have a new one...or maybe I do have arthritis or spinal stenosis or God-only-knows what else. 

The doctor did write a three week prescription for physical therapy, which I'm going to consider. I'm also looking into acupuncture. Our insurance doesn't cover it and it's a little pricey, but perhaps a few sessions would help relieve the pain. Oh - and I also want to mention that I'm regularly taking CBD oil except that I upped my normal dosage and that is helping relieve the pain and inflammation, too. All-natural and no side effects like NSAIDs.

How is the month of March going for you?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

choosing lamps for the bedroom

Hello, friends! It's been way too long. I think this seemingly never-ending winter has gotten to me. I've had no desire to write a blog post. I've noticed on Blogland in general, new postings have been way down since January. Perhaps everyone feels the same way...just kind of blah and waiting for spring. On top of it, the past few weeks I've had really bad back pain. I'm prone to it. I have three herniated disks and if I don't keep active with walking and yoga, my back hurts. This time, it's been my left hip, along with spasms in my buttock. I guess I'm my own pain-in-the-a**. Anyway, my wonderful yoga instructor is also a massage and bodywork therapist, plus she's in school for physiology. I saw her last week for bodywork and she worked on me for two hours! I'm doing better since then and following instructions of self-care. And doing more walking. Walking feels good. Since it's still so darn cold here, when I run errands, I walk the entire store instead of just going straight to what I need. I've also been back on my treadmill - boring, but necessary. My worst time is sleeping when I try to roll over to the other side. My hip doesn't like that. And when I get out of bed in the morning, I get the spasms. It could be some arthritis in my hip. It's so fun getting old. (Insert random photo of blissed-out cat because no one wants to see photos of hips or treadmills.)

On to better stuff. As I've said before, I take forever to get a room put together the way I really like it. We've needed new lamps for our bedroom for years and it was just something I never got around to. I finally got tired of looking at mismatched lamps that were also the wrong size. I wasn't sure exactly what size lamps to buy for our bedside tables, so I turned to my best friend, Google. Several professional interior design sites said to measure your nightstands - mine are 27" tall - and that your lamps should be 2-3" higher than your nightstand. That would mean I would need lamps that were 29 - 30" tall. So I headed to HomeGoods and found 29" lamps that I thought would look good in our bedroom.

Wrong. Too overwhelming. Too much white. I felt like when I walked into our small bedroom, all I noticed were the lamps. Back they went.

Then I tried Target. I like that you can buy the base and shade separately. They also have frequent 15-20% off sales on lighting, so that was a bonus. Lamps are expensive! This time I chose a beige base with a gray shade. Wrong again. I felt the lamps were simply too big and overwhelming; that the base looked like pineapples; and the gray shades clashed with the wall color. Back they go to Target.

Third time's a charm! For starters, I went with a medium-sized lamp instead of a large. I liked the clear base, so I got those again. And when looking at shades, I found these white ones with a silver swirl. They're not as stark as plain white and the silver goes well with the wall color. You're not going to believe where I got these lamps: Meijer grocery store, of all places! Just like withTarget, you can pick your base and shade separately. And luck would have it, they were having a buy one, get the second one 1/2 off sale. 

 The only thing that's driving me nuts is the stickers on the base. Why do stores have to do this? I started picking at the sticker with my thumb nail and it barely chips away. I mean, these are stuck on good. I turned to Google once again and I see there's ways of getting stickers off acrylic, so I'll have to try some of the ideas and see what works.


Where have you had luck finding lamps?