The More the Merrier

 

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Or, Reasons to Rejoice When Your Siblings Are Dating: Free Labor.

You surely followed with great interest the posts containing grotesque images of the entire yard criss-crossed with fox-holes, trenches, earthworks and breastworks which Thaddeus Kosciuszko would envy. No doubt you’re still wondering, “Was there actually a purpose to all that time spent playing with that excavator?” Or,  “Were they trying to get the turbo on the skidsteer to spool up, so they could sit there enraptured with closed eyes, breathing in the exhaust?”

All the fun on those charming digging toys indicated a larger project, one which afforded our neighbors much amusement as they sat on their porches. It gave them something to watch besides the weeds growing taller betwixt the cracks of their sidewalks, fertilized by cigarette butts. (This is West 9th Street and we have standards to maintain, after all.) Said neighbors will testify all these charming homes stand upon a unique marshland which actually consists of a slope. It so happens our house stands at the bottom of the slope. In the 1940s, while creating this neighborhood, They didn’t believe that well-places storm drains were a necessity. Thus we purchased this marvelous home with several inches of standing water in the basement. (On that note, I highly recommend buying a home “as-is”. Saves such a hassle of unnecessary negotiations with the realtors.)

This unique combination of hill structure and street-curb conformation results in an inordinate amount of water flowing through our basement each time it rains. Most residents of this street are content to put their washer and dryer on pallets and turn the other way, but not we dear readers, oh not we. My conscience aches thinking of the shrinking oceans and the water shortages–it’s simply not fair of us to hoard so much ground water for ourselves in our own basement. It was imperative we stop the flow and send it on down to the next yard.

So with our  excavator, we installed drains in the yard, drains from the gutters, and dry-wells at the end of the yard. All that was left to install were drains inside the basement- a simple matter involving a jackhammer, a gas-powered wet saw, picks, shovels, five gallon buckets, and family members. And family members’ girlfriends.

Readers, never be afraid to give your sibling’s significant other a true taste of the family she’s courting. You will know she’s a keeper if she agrees to help her boyfriend dig solid clay out of his sister’s damp basement for a day in return for pizza and beer. And still be refined about it. 

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Come to think of it,  we were doing them a favor! There is nothing so romantic as watching your BF hauling clay in five-gallon buckets up the stairs all day. And if your GF can pick-ax a drainage trench with such ease, you know she’ll have no trouble merely running a household. And so with this extra help  we dug drains a foot wide and a foot deep, around the inside perimeter of the foundation, in one day–just like Mike Mulligan and Mary Ann.

 

 

 

 

A few tons of gravel, many rows of perforated pipe and another strong sibling later, we had some delightful and picturesque DIY french drains in the entire perimeter of the basement.

 

And for the first time since the 1940s, the basement on this plot stayed dry during all the spring and summer floods. What to do with the free time now that we’re not  constantly brooming water into the very conveniently placed sump-pump?? I must go find some junk behind the shed which with to create some meaningless, up-cycled, and useless decor that will be outdated once BHG determines the next trend.

And we’re inviting the girlfriend back for dinner. And for the kitchen remodel.

 

How can one maintain one’s blogging credibility if it does not minutely chronicle  one’s efforts , carefully staged in photographs, to make the featured home unrealistically perfect? 

 

 

Three Secrets Every Couple Should Know to Attain a Perfect Marriage

Here at My Perfect Life, we love to share with you, devoted blog followers, all aspects of domestic perfection in this Cozy Nest– choices of decor, floor plans for the remodel, the way we form our offspring. And now, after many requests from our fans and the editors of Verily Mag, we’ve  agreed to carve out a little space on this marvelous blog to discuss The Perfect Marriage!! (Oh yes, that’s the Royal We speaking.)

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We’ll start by sharing Three Secrets Every Couple Needs For a Perfect Marriage. Yes, after observing married people for over a quarter of a century, and exemplifying a successful marriage for less than a quarter of a century, we do find ourselves highly qualified to comment! ♥♥♥ We’re so blessed and so filled with joy as we share with you these  Secrets to a Successful Marriage:

 1 .Drink More Often, and Heavily

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Experts agree a daily ritual helps a marriage. But think beyond the cocktail hour that saved their marriage. Casual imbibing improves any situation encountered in marriage, be it social or domestic!

Sleepless because he snored all night ? Bailey’s in the coffee thermos. Drowning in ennui at her fine arts exhibit? Sangria in the coffee thermos. DH or W wants to have a heart to heart? Rum and coke in the coffee thermos. Time to argue over the budget again? Aristocrat in your screwdriver, if it’s a tight month. Forgot your anniversary? Something off the top shelf brings the smiles back. Unmedicated home birth? Ha- Gotcha! They have IVs for that.

And remember–you’re never drinking alone when there are children in the house! In fact, from everything I’ve been told by persons of experience, the more children in the marriage, the more one’s cup should overfloweth– with wine.

2. Go On Long Trips…Alone

We believe it was Ben Franklin who plagiarized this proverb from the Book of Sirach along with his other pithy platitudes :“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Nothing like a week without the kids around to remind the better half who stayed behing how much he/she/they can’t take any more peace and quiet. They’ll really wish you’d bring the  whole tribe ( and yourself) back home. We could mention the “honeymoon effect” but we believe the Couple to Couple League has the copy-write.

 

3. Avoid Conflicts by Avoiding One Another. 

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After styling photos for Pinterest and our posts, there’s simply no time left for  real-life interaction with our Dear Husband. Rather, we communicate via iPads and with comments on our blog posts, thus eliminating any possibility of marital strife.

In fact since a blog world is as perfect as one chooses to present it, just stay married to your blogs, dear readers–that’s the real secret to a Perfect Marriage.

 

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Or should I say, how does your yard grow, and the answer dear readers, is up for debate.

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Photo credit: My Perfect Life

After the Great Leap Forward into irrigation endeavors, we were left with a hastily graded yard–to be expected after a one night stand with a skidsteer. That’s about as long as DH could spare thanks to 60 hour work weeks with commute. Its the price one pays when one’s better half is sitting at home on  the computer, that is, fixing up the home one fantastic DYI at a time!

Photo Credit: My Perfect Life

Photo Credit: My Perfect Life

After the dust cleared, literally, prospects of a lush green lawn were looking rather grim. There’s something special  about fertile clay soil on a slope. The oddest phenomenon occurred–anything resting on the surface  simply washed away downstream during every spring storm. The sun glancing off the baked soil afforded some wonderful tan lines but not a haven for little seedlings.

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

I finally broke the rule of DIY and brought in this landscape designer all the way from upstate NY…. where the Impatients bloom all summer and the yards are lush and green. With a resume as long as the trails of poison ivy in my hedges, its no wonder she soon got things looking so well groomed!

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Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

What a miracle worker–sprouts finally appeared! After a day long session with the garden hose it became apparent we’d have to skip DYI when it came to watering the seed–thank goodness Harbor Freight is only 20 miles away.

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

A month and a half and 23 cloudbursts later, we’re finally enjoying some green! Squint hard and if you look under the weeds and crab grass you will see some Southern Rebel grass seed actually sprouting!

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

And you know what they say, any root systems are better than none at all when it comes to landscaping. The elevation of our yard has lowered by 2 inches thanks to rapid erosion, so Im content to watch this crab grass spread. The exciting thing is, we’ll get to put in some fancy retaining walls that much sooner! Stay tuned! The landscape designer comes next week.

Big Boy Toys

They have a place in every DUI. I meant DIY.

As you know, we’ve been terribly absorbed with our landscaping project. It is my single driving purpose to enjoy lush grass this summer surrounding our koi pond and inground pool. Of course I’m really all about DYI and a simple way  of life… and so is my husband, but sometimes its necessary to resort to modern conveniences to speed up a process.

Photo  credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

After a brief sesson with rake, shovel, and pick ax (and if you don’t believe me, ask the neighbors), I deemed it necessary to bring in the big guns.

I had to beg and plead with Dear Husband… but he finally relented and brought this little diesel powered cutie on the scene!

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

The neighbors agreed that there’s something magical to the sound of a turbo spooling up at 11 PM in the back yard.

I was most excited at the opportunity to show our neighbors how environmentally concerned we are here at our Perfect Cozy Nest.

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Photo credit: My Perfect Life

I wanted to preserve as much of this fertile clay as possible, so instead of hauling in loads of expensive exploited topsoil, we simply took the clay and river rocks and pushed it all back in the holes.  Brilliant, thrifty, and captures the essence of this Remodel Extravaganza:

There’s nothing that a little elbow grease and a few rugged males and a skidsteer can’t fix.

Mrs. Sandman

Dearest Readers, I missed my calling. Let me just express how thrilled, positively thrilled  I am with our refinished hardwood floors! And allow me to say I loved every minute of the project. What a perfect way to begin our Remodel Extravaganza!

The first time we stepped into this house, we were captivated immediately with the natural beauty of the hardwood.

Photo Credit: My Perfect Life

Photo Credit: My Perfect Life

Irresistible!! Was I dismayed to find that the hired help in the employ of the selling agent had absolutely destroyed the wonderful flooring? Not really.

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

To be honest, I was glad to find the flooring in worse shape than when we viewed the home– otherwise we’d never have known the joys which come from breathing fine dust of aged 1949 flooring as we sanded

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

and sanded

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

and sanded just a little more, because when one has an unlimited amount of time and money, it really makes sense to go the whole nine yards. (Note: I was not sponsored by Kenmore to include this vacuum in my post.)

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

And continued to sand, and do you know that inhaling said dust is said to aid in the development of young children’s brain cells? Which is why we made sure our pre-toddler was present, of course, for all stages of the project–it was so convenient to bring her with us every time we jumped into the job.

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

My favorite part of refurbishing the flooring was watching those thirsty boards soak up the delicious, beautiful stain –aptly named Gunstock 351. And polyurethane is quite DIY friendly these days. Lambskin rollers? Those are for the birds! Paintbrush bristles embedded in a finish add depth and texture to a room.

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

I think you’ll agree we managed quite well without the fancy tools–that’s what this remodel extravaganza is all about! Why pay someone else when you can half-ass a job yourself, for less? THAT is the true spirit of DIY.

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

I’m going to have DLH refinish all the wooden stocks of his favorite small arms

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

so that they’ll compliment our amazing new floors! I haven’t yet decided if I want to keep our rugged rustic chic theme in the new haven.

What do you think? Is it time to try something new? Do let me know.

THIS IS DIY

We’re so thrilled that our Remodel Extravaganza is finally underway! We decided to begin with the landscaping, so that once we had the koi pond situated we would know how large of a swimming pool to install.

Photo credit: someone else

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Also, we decided  to wipe the slate clean, and dispose of these scarred maples–what an eyesore!

Photo credit : My Perfect Life

Photo credit : My Perfect Life

Have I mentioned my husband DH is really into DYI? And of course, anything powered by diesel. We’re very concerned for  the environment,  so we eschew gas-powered equipment. Our landscaping project necessitated this adorable excavator.

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Photo Credit: My Perfect Life

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Progress was extraordinarily swift. Men like this were born to clear the land! The stuff our pioneering forefathers were made of.

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Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Isn’t that excavator so cute?

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

After the removal of the giant ancestral maple trees, which will be warming the house for winters to come in our vintage woodstove (more on that in another post!), we set about sculpting the yard.

Photo  credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

The waterfalls and pond require special drainage and plumbing. I’m so thrilled for the  end results!

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo Credit: My Perfect Life

Photo Credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

To Market, To Market

When the weather is still too dreary for gathering wildflowers to press for shadowbox art, and one is still wondering if the white-collared individuals shall deign to process one’s lowly mortgage, what is left to do?

If you were a lifestyle blogger, how would you spend a March weekend?

There’s no question:  at the flea markets!

Anyone who runs a household knows what a pleasure it is to spend one’s free time  among the crowds on a Saturday, shopping. There’s something innate to one’s decorista soul that thrills while prowling through the booths in the search of that single forgotten vintage-chic cast-off cast-iron home-good that…. when featured on one’s blog, will set one apart from all the other lifestyle blogs  who are featuring similarly unique vintage-chic home-good discoveries.

With 1,000 square feet of new home to fill with decor, I knew it was time to start the treasure hunt! Amassing decor for the Perfect Home necessitates a visit to the finest of market and antique shoppes: (please note it must be a shoppe, time is wasted at a shop)

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Dear readers, twas akin to entering Ali Baba’s cave… untouched by the forty thieves! You would squeal in delight at the glittering spread of home ornaments, just waiting to be placed in a cherished vignette atop  repurposed, rustic cabinetry in my Cozy Nest!

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

I didn’t know which way to turn!!

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

I’m completely re-inspired by this bovine collection, I can’t decide if I should use these for my kitchen or for the guest bedroom re-do?

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

So much uniqueness in one place! A wealth of DIY projects waiting to be upcycled! I don’t know what this is –but it’s going to be part of my new foyer display!

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Winding my way through rows upon rows of vintage chinoiserie, I stumbled upon these little wonders:

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

They’re going to look so adorable in the nursery! Sweet dreams, B&C!

This plaque was a complete steal, and is going to fit right in with our Rugged Rustic Chic decor. Did I mention DLH is part, um, ethnicity of the individual astride the equine below?

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

But I’ve saved the best for last, dear readers. The culmination of an arduous day searching for the single most unique find of all:

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Have I expressed just how thrilled I am to have moved to this town? With my weekly spree at the flea markets, I will never need to enter a Home Goods ever again. Which is fortunate as there simply isn’t one for miles and miles! Positively pioneer.

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

Photo credit: My Perfect Life

(This gorgeous vase will become the soap dish in the new powder room)

What are your favorite flea market finds? What was your greatest triumph in up-cycling your treasures? Do let me know in the comments!

One Big Happy DIY Extravaganza!

Dearest Readers! You have no doubt experienced great consternation at the lack of updates about My Perfect Life, but calm yourselves and get off of Apartment Therapy’s website! This blog is about to erupt with posts and pictures and inspiration boards.

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Three weeks after relocating 400 miles away, we’re in the process of buying a charming town home on a spacious 0.18 acre property.

The location is every housewife’s dream: a semi-rural town known so well to many of you, dear readers, I need not make mention because the last thing I need right now is for someone to ask where I left my berkenstocks and jean jumper.

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The house in two words: absolutely. to. die. for.

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It’s a little dated, built in the 1950s, so in addition to our lead intake we’re about to take on more DUIs, sorry, that’s DIY projects than you’ll be able to cope with on this blog!

Let me just say three little words that will make your hearts pound…unless you’re already in a Van Patten home: Genuine Hardwood Floors.

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And did I mention newly installed windows?

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We’re already envisioning cocktail parties ala Nate Berkus (what? you don’t follow designers of alternate orientation in BHG?) on the veranda: Do join us.

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Did anyone notice the abandoned Craftsman toolbox (with apologies to Mac and Snap-On) that my dear DH has ensured is included in the contract?

At any rate, this little omen leaves me confident that we’ve found our dream home!

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We ‘ll see what the suit-and-ties over at our trusted mortgage company have to say about the affair.

Flanked by deformed maples (looks like someone was too damn lazy to fell these things before the roots started spreading. Luckily, I married unto tree spikes), this home is every blogger’s dream : a blank canvas crying out for  a remodel.

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What do you think, dearest followers?

And These Three Kings Went Wee-Wee-Wee All The Way Home

Hello again dear sweet followers! I decided to take a little break from packing (more on that later) to check the stats on my blog and reply to requests for sponsored posts…. and to my utter horror and shame I realized something dreadful! I neglected to show you the Epiphany Decor Reveal!!! Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar are rolling over in their graves! I am mortified,and so sorry to keep you all in suspense!

Because yes, in the Cozy Nest, the decorating doesn’t end with Christmas. All those other design blogs you follow? Unrealistically inspiring, but they have nothing left once New Years and their hors d’oeuvre recipe inspiration boards have  passed. My cherished family tradition reserves stockings for the Epiphany feast, and so this year I agonized through the 12 Days of Christmas over the perfect stocking display.

Oh, surely you expect the inspiration board for my Epiphany stocking “vignette”. My display would surpass all of these, but its customary in these blogs to curate impossibly beautiful ‘inspiration’ from your blogging network, so I’ll throw you a bone, dearest followers:

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Mmm simply delicious inspiration! (Photo credits: babble.com, interistosity.blogspot.com, grandinroad.com, syleathome.com)

Yet as I scrolled through an infinite Pinterest feed, I couldn’t find any imagery that sufficiently encapsulated my own perfect style. My husband and I have ‘married’ our decor preferences into a theme I’ve been referring to as Rustic Rugged Chic.  Relics of his bachelor days fit right in with this theme( I’m proud to say I was ahead of the curve on the burlap craze!) So an inspiration board for the Epiphany decor of  my Cozy Nest would have to include:

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 Much to my chagrin, our current Cozy Nest does not allow for a cheery hearth. I had to rely on my creative, passionate-DYI home-decorating instincts

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Photo Credit: My Perfect Life

I hung our stockings with care from the focal point of our home, the Reloading Bench.

(Did I mention  that DLH is really into DYI? Well, re-loading combines DYI with all the best aspects of re-purposing. More on that in another post.)

What do you think of my unique flair? Are you in raptures over this Rugged Rustic Chic theme? Do let me  know.