The great porch tune-up

Well, the in-betweener porch tune-up might be more appropriate. Our front porch might just be everyone’s favorite room in the house. Out of the house? You know what I mean. Anyway, it houses a little fish “pond,” lots of plants (usually, give the crazy Kansas weather a week or so to convince me we won’t have snow before May), a little wicker set of chairs and a sofa and a porch swing loaded with pillows and a cozy fleece throw.

I borrowed Dad’s trusty power-washer and squirted it all down last week – a little paint flew off the railings and around the windows, but otherwise, a successful day. Powerwashed the wicker and repainted it with a few cans of white spray paint, which is always a great refresh. Washed down the pond and got it ready for the fish (which have been weathering the winter in Belle and Bethy’s bathroom and taking up far too much counterspace in there. Squeaky clean. I even took some Old English polish to the battered wooden front door – whose refinishing is on the long to-do list – and spruced it up a bit. I was pretty satisfied.

Then I looked up.

Yuck.

I know some people love brass. I really don’t. Unless it is completely tarnished and jacked up. The shiny, 1980s look? Yuck.

Let me say it again, YUCK.

And the brass lights were staring back at me.

Ugly brass light.

Ye olde ugly brass light.

I don’t want to spend $100 or more a piece on new outdoor lights. I have sort of categorized this summer as the “make-do” summer. Fix what I can and do it on a budget. So, it was off to the craft drawer (I say craft drawer, I really mean crap drawer, but craft sounds as if I’m organized so play along, okay?) in the kitchen to locate some metallic craft paint. It’s for indoor projects, I believe I used the Antique Gold and Bronze sparklers to reinvent a pair of 1980s green painted picture frames. Want not, waste not, right? Next I grabbed a sponge from the kitchen supplies drawer (this one really is a kitchen supply drawer, honest) cut off a small corner and, squirting a liberal amount of both colors onto a foam plate, deemed myself ready.

The lights were spotless from the earlier scrubbing and since they were old I really didn’t need to prep the surface in order to get the new paint to stick. So, I began dabbing and swirling the two colors on randomly until I came up with a faux finish that wasn’t perfect (I’m far from that!) but at least wasn’t glaring shiny brass. It looks best from a few feet back, but still not bad up close. In fact, the next day my mother dropped by and complimented me on the new lights we had installed on the front porch! Score!

Better.

Better. Much better.

Next up? A simple revamp of the world’s ugliest mail box. Wish me luck.

Icky mailbox.

Icky mailbox. Poor mailman.

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Monday. Ugh.

This morning is a study in contrasts. A little antique plate of almost-too-expensive Lemon Tea Cookies from Best Regards in Kansas City next to my Friends Alumni mug full of steaming cappuccino from my favorite place to save money, Aldi. My dining room, where I’m working, is squeaky-clean, but the kitchen peeking at me through the door reminds me that the dishwasher has died and I still need to put last night’s dishes away. I’m wearing a lovely robe from my even lovlier husband paired with some rather ugly, grass-stained, hot pink Crocs. As I said, contrasts.

Life is full of them, isn’t it?

The blog was on hold for a bit, while I dealt with some camera issues (wouldn’t download!), and wrestled with the idea of a blog. What is valuable? What is too personal? Do I talk about my blood pressure struggles? Do I keep it strictly focused on food? Well, what if some project I’m working on at the house inspires someone else? I’m no interior designer, so does that make me look silly? And besides, I have two kids and two dogs (the cat and guinea pig are pretty much clean-freaks) that like to tear up my house – it’s rarely in photoshoot form. But, to bring those pesky contrasts back, that’s really what readers want in this blog genre, right? Perfectly cooked and staged foods, and immaculately staged rooms?

In-between grading papers last night, I ran across this: http://www.younghouselove.com/2011/04/any-given-day/ . I’ve posted their stuff before, as it was just too cool to NOT pass along. So once again, I’m inspired by these talented kids. Thank goodness their house gets messy, too! Nope, my house isn’t House Beautiful or High Gloss worthy. But, most likely, neither is the home of those folks I admire. There’s probably some paint splattered somewhere on their floors too, they might have laundry strewn all over the place after a long weekend and the toy monster might also be eating their living rooms.

So, do I have anything of value to say? I am a writer and a former journalist, I don’t want to spend my time shouting into the silence of cyberspace. More importantly for the teacher inside me, I want to *do* something with a blog – just to show my students that I’m relevant in our field. And it’s an outlet for a woman who used to write upwards of a dozen articles a week, I admit.

So, what to write? How to be relevant? I’ll keep you posted if I figure out the million-dollar formula.

And now? It’s getting late and it’s time to wake and feed the girls. A sausage and egg sandwich for Belle and a bowl of cereal with banana for the little one. Again, those contrasts popping up in my morning.

Maybe it’s a message?