The Impatient Gardener: October 2013

30 October 2013

How to get FREE nautical charts

If you've ever wanted to do anything with a nautical chart, plan it now.

What might you want to do with a chart, other than, you know, navigate? Allow me to give you a few ideas.

I can't find an original source for this photo. If you know it, please let me know.
So here's why you need to at least do a little planning now. Last week, NOAA announced that it will no longer print paper charts. They will still be available through a print-on-demand service but they aren't cheap. Until now, the most economical way to do anything crafty with a chart was to find someone throwing out outdated ones (Mr. Much More Patient threw out HUNDREDS of them a few years ago; yes, I could kill him). But during the somewhat controversial change to paper charts only being available through print-on-demand services, NOAA is offering free downloads of all its charts in PDFs of high enough quality that they can be printed out full size, which can be quite large depending on the chart. The first Christmas gift I gave Mr. MMP was a framed version of the full Great Lakes chart and it is about 4-1/2 feet wide.  (Interesting note: That was almost 20 years ago and while it might sound like a great gift, somehow he thought I was getting him a puppy. Hmmm, framed chart vs. puppy. Hard to cuddle with the giant chart.)

But I digress. The point is, if you download the PDFs of the charts you might want now, all you have to do in the future when you want to use them is print them out. And I would imagine a really creative person could manipulate them to turn them into something completely different.

Maybe use them as a canvas for art like this.

Or maybe make some cool lamp shades.

Or a really cool coffee table, unique book covers, creative wedding invitations, fun gift tags or maybe cupcake flag toppers. If you have a kid who is really into the pirate thing (my nephews were nuts for pirate stuff), just think about all the cool decorations you could do for a party (maybe pin the treasure chest on the island on a chart?).

If you've taken a really special trip near the water or have a place on the water that is close to your heart, think about framing a chart as a gift or memento. We have two framed charts hanging in our house (they are in the back room that you've never seen before because it's basically a mess). One is the aforementioned huge chart of the Great Lakes, but the other is a Lake Michigan chart that Mr. MMP drew the course that his crew sailed (as well as the times they were in each spot) in 1992 when they won the Chicago-Mackinac Race overall. It's a huge achievement for a racing sailor to win that race and that chart is a great way to remember it.

OK, you're sufficiently inspired to maybe do something with a nautical chart. Here's how you get the free downloads. The free download program started October 22 and will only last three months. After that you're probably going to have to pay.

1. Start here. This link breaks down the charts by general region. Click on the catalog icon for whichever region you are interested in.

How to download free nautical charts -- The Impatient Gardener

2. The catalog will show you the region with a bunch of blue boxes on it. Zoom into the area you are interested in and make a note of the five-digit number on the border. That is the chart number you want to download.
3. Once you know what number charts you want to download, go here and click on the chart number to download it.

That's it.

Go forth and download. And then tell me what you're going to do with them.

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28 October 2013

Colorful fence proves a little gray is ok when it comes to rules

Rules set in stone have always irked me. I'll admit, I'm not a big follower of the rules, to the point where I'm more interested in breaking one when someone makes a big fuss about how there are no exceptions. I'm not talking about laws here, just rules. I know this is perhaps a bit of an immature viewpoint, but I think rules that are black and white are the lazy man's way of dictating.

I realize that black-and-white rules come about because somewhere, sometime someone took advantage of a more lenient policy and someone complained that it wasn't fair. I totally get that. But just not wanted to have to explain your rational is not a reason to make lazy rules.

This is especially true when there is no good reason for a rule other than, "Well, what if someone else did the same thing but it was mean/ugly/stupid?"

And that's exactly what is happening with a fence in suburban Chicago.

Shawna Coronado is a garden crusader (my term, not hers). Basically a few years ago she quit her job and became a full-time landscaper, blogger, speaker and garden motivator. I've posted pictures from her front-yard vegetable garden from which she donates hundreds of pounds of fresh vegetables to food pantries every year. She's also done a great TED talk.

A few months ago, the fence outside Shawna's family's house was sprayed with graffiti. I can't imagine how violated I would feel if someone did that at my house, especially when you spend so much time trying to make the outside beautiful for yourself and your neighbors.

Nobody wants to see graffiti in their neighborhood and graffiti often begets graffiti (by the way, what ended up on Shawna's fence was not at all artistic, so there was no pleasure to be gained by it). There's not much to do beyond covering it up. But that's not so pretty either. So Shawna decided to fight graffiti with beauty. It turns out that what really works to deter graffiti in the long term is art according to Shawna's research.

She had muralist Peter Thaddeus turn what was a fence that had obviously been painted to cover graffiti into a work of art. It's bright and cheery and far more welcoming than graffiti. To me, it sends the message that the people in this neighborhood have pride in where they live.

And here's where the rules became a problem. You see, Shawna's HOA doesn't allow fences to be decoratively painted because they don't want to be in the business of determining what is "art" and what isn't. I get that. They are a group of volunteers just trying to make their neighborhood better. I suppose they aren't different from Shawna in that regard. But this kind of black-and-white rule is a good example of a lazy rule. Let's be honest here: I bet there isn't a person in that neighborhood who thinks Shawna's fence is ugly. It's not a huge area, it's cheery as heck and frankly it's the kind of thing that would make me want to live in that neighborhood. The HOA just doesn't want to stand up and give its unspoken stamp of approval and face the chance that in the future some inconsiderate homeowner will claim that his half rotten, falling down fence is also art and therefore he should be able to keep it.

Of course, there are already fences like that in Shawna's neighborhood. And those, apparently, are fine.

Shawna's is not. She's being fined $30 a month for having a fence that does not meet the HOA's rules. So she's launched an initiative to sponsor her fence for a month so she can continue to spread the message that graffiti will not be tolerated in this neighborhood.

And it gets worse. She had the message "Make a Diff" incorporated into the mural, but it turns out that's problematic too. The City of Warrenville deemed that those words qualify as advertising because they tie in with Shawna's "make a difference" statements on her website. So she had to have that changed as well, lest she face a $750 fine. Now the mural says, "Grow community."

It takes guts to stand up for something you believe in, and it take serious guts to do it when you know that it's going to upset some of your neighbors. Guts don't seem to be an issue for Shawna.

Some people don't agree with Shawna's stance and she's taken a bit of heat about it on Facebook. She admits that the mural violates the HOA's fence policy, although she didn't know that at the time she commissioned Thaddeus to paint it. But that's not the point. The point is that it's a lazy rule. And we, as a society, ought to be better than that.

All photos are owned by Shawna Coronado and are used with her permission.

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24 October 2013

How to salvage a stained marble tabletop

I have been on the hunt for a marble side table for about two years now. I'm pretty sure it's because secretly I would have loved a marble countertop in either the upstairs bathroom or the kitchen but I knew I'd lose my mind with a marble counter. Some people love marble countertops for their patina or are willing to baby them a little, but that person is not me, so I went with no-muss, no-fuss quartz in both places.

But marble is beautiful and I really wanted to bring in a little more white by the blue chair in the living room. Not finding the right thing was just killing me (sometimes I get consumed by these searches) and I was just about to sort of give up and order one from West Elm that I had been eyeing. I liked the table a lot although it was lower than I was looking for and I'm always a little worried to go down the West Elm / Pottery Barn / Ikea road. Its not that I don't love their stuff. It's just that I don't really like it when someone walks in the house and automatically knows where something is from. I already have the Malabar chairs from Pottery Barn (and honestly who doesn't know someone who has or had those chairs) in front of the fireplace so I was just a bit wary of having things look like they were all ordered from a catalog.
West Elm Hex Side Table

Anyway, I was literally on the verge of buying the West Elm table when I decided to do my routine Etsy search for "marble side table" and lo and behold, a new one popped up.

Etsy listing photo

It was this cute little vintage number that cost about half of what that West Elm table cost. It wasn't perfect by any means. The marble top clearly had some stains on it and a few chips. Plus, the legs and the "handle" on the top were shiny fake brass. I like brass, but I like it when it's darkened, and antiqued and, um, real.

There were a number of stains of unknown origin on the tabletop.
When it arrived I set to giving those stains a shot. I really didn't expect them to budge, since I had no idea what kind of stain I was dealing with nor how many years it had been there. Honestly, I would have been fine with the table with the stains patina too. But I did a little bit of googling (how did anyone DIY anything before Google?) and decided to give hydrogen peroxide a shot.

Instead of using regular hydrogen peroxide that comes in a bottle, I went for the industrial strength stuff. And the only place I knew where to find that was in a box of facial bleach. I bought the extra strength Sally Hansen creme facial bleach (I don't know where the extra strength comes in but it sounded good), pulled out the bottle of powder labeled "Activator" and threw out the rest of the contents of the box.

Then I mixed some of the powder with a small amount of ammonia, as I read in this article. I spread it thinly on all the stained areas, covered them with plastic wrap and sealed them with tape. Then I put it in a sunny window for about 10 hours.

Later, I took off the plastic wrap and tape and washed the whole thing with warm water and a little soap. Because of the size of the table top, I was able to stick the entire thing in the kitchen sink.

There were darker areas where the plastic wrap was, but it was just residual moisture. A day later, they were gone.

But then I went back to the tabletop a few days later and I noticed that now the areas that I had treated were actually lighter than the rest of the table. It was a very, very small difference, and it may have even faded with time, but since I was dealing with a very small piece of marble I figured it would be easy enough to fix (I also could have lived with it the way it was). I just mixed up more of the hydrogen peroxide powder and ammonia and spread it (very thinly this time because I didn't have much) over the entire table, and wrapped the whole thing in plastic wrap. I kind of forgot about it this time, so I would say it sat for about 20 hours, but I washed it the same way I had the first time.

And this time all I saw was a beautiful, white Carrara marble top.

I've delacquered the legs and handle, but that's as far as I've taken it so far. I'm sort of hoping it will get a little rusty or something (I don't really know what I expect to happen, and I'm pretty sure they are made of aluminum as a magnet doesn't stick to them and I know it's not real brass). My intention is to live with it like this for a little, but I'm also considering spray painting the legs an antiqued brass or bronze color. I also put on a coat of marble sealer to prevent future stains.

Despite that shiny gold glaring at me out of the corner of my eye, I'm just loving this table, and even more so now that the marble looks practically new.

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A new bathroom was just the start

If you're coming to the blog today from Hooked on Houses, welcome! I'm so happy you found me and thank you so much to Julia for featuring our bathroom addition.

A couple years ago we ripped the top off half of our house and stuck it back on higher. We created tons of extra space without adding a single square foot to the house (this is not an easy sell to make to your loan officer).

This is what it looked like at the ugliest part of the renovation:

But it went from this:

To this:

We ended up with a house we absolutely love but retained all the character and charm this cottage had before the renovation.

If you're interested in seeing more of our renovation and house, here are a few places to start:

A guided tour of our house, post-renovation:
The back yard
New bathroom
Living room (this room has since been updated but I don't have any good pictures of it up)
Master bedroom
Guest bedroom and hallway

And here are all the posts related to the renovation:
I love it when a plan comes together
Construction update No. 1
Construction update No. 2: Demo starts
Construction update No. 3: Cool!
Construction update No. 4: Popping the top
Construction update No. 5
Construction update No. 6: A flurry of activity
Construction update No. 7: Reality check time
Construction update No. 7.5: Flooring decisions
Construction update No. 8: Shades of gray
Lighting the way
Construction update No. 9: Don't want to leave you hanging
Leaving our mark
Construction update No. 10: Getting there
Construction update No. 11: Down to the finishing touches
A new year's revelation
Bang! Kapow! It's a punch list
Pergola sitting pretty
Houston, we have a problem
A dirty little secret about countertops
It gets worse before it gets better
Guest bedroom sneak peak
The big bathroom reveal
What's happening now
Putting the clothes and the paintbrush away
Looking back at the reno a year later

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you come back soon!


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23 October 2013

The Garden Appreciation Society Week 19 -- Challenge yourself and link up!

I realized a funny thing while taking pictures of this week's Garden Appreciation Society bouquet: I enjoy the bouquets that are harder to come by more than the ones that I made when the garden was in full flush. There's something about the challenge that makes me appreciate that bouquet even more. Or maybe it's just that it forces me to get creative.

In any case, I managed to come up with a relatively simple bouquet that is not only striking but somehow extremely seasonally appropriate. That dark purple, almost black kale definitely says Halloween to me.

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society -- Monkshood and kale

The funny thing is that I don't even like the color purple. I actually kind of detest it. But I think this bouquet comes together all in the texture. The large flowers of the Monkshood is such a nice contrast to the frilly kale. I haven't had a lot of luck getting the kale to last long in bouquets, but even if it's only perky for two days, this bouquet is well worth it, especially since there's not enjoying the outdoors these days with it getting dark about half an hour after I get home in the evening.

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society -- Monkshood and kale

I know you probably don't have a ton of flowers growing in your garden right now if you're in a northern part of the country, but I challenge you to come up with something to appreciate your garden in a new way this week. I'd love to see what you come up with.

The Impatient Gardener -- The Garden Appreciation Society -- Monkshood and kale
* I feel compelled to edit this post to add a small disclaimer. My mom just told me that Monkshood is incredibly toxic, which is news to me. My dogs don't really go around eating plants but my cat loves to attack bouquets in the house, so I'm probably going to put it somewhere where Desdemona can't reach it when I get home tonight just to be on the safe side. There are a ton of plants out there that are toxic in varying degrees, but this one sounds like a biggie.

And if you'd like to take a little walk down memory lane, here are the previous weeks of The Garden Appreciation Society.


18 October 2013

How to binge-watch Sarah Richardson shows in the U.S. + new paint colors to love

It has been completely cruddy here this week. So much so that I haven't really had the will to go outside and cut flowers for The Garden Appreciation Society, so that will wait for another week. How long do you think we can keep this thing going? It's getting difficult to be creative with fading flowers.

Anyway, I leave you today, with my tip for the day. You probably know that I am a Sarah Richardson addict. I pretty much love everything she does. OK, not everything (I'm still a little flabbergasted by the lavender living room in Sarah's House 4) but damn near everything. She is my win-the-lottery interior designer.

Have you noticed that there are some great Canadian blogs out there? Well, there are. And now I know why a lot of them seem to be a cut above some blogs from the States. Canadians can watch Sarah Richardson whenever they want. There are episodes of almost all her shows on the Canadian HGTV website And if you are in the United States and you go to that website, you will get a message saying that the content is not available in your area. I mean, really, the nerve.

But alas I have found away around that pesky message. It is an application for your computer called Hola Unblocker. Basically, you install it and, in Google Chrome at least, a little icon shows up in your tool bar. When you go to a site that is blocked, you just go up to that icon and select a different country for your IP address to flow through. It seems to know the best one, so it will likely pick Canada for you, but if not you just pick Canada. The Hola icon will change to the country flag you have selected and
voila! You have Sarah Richardson on your computer.

The quality of the video is lacking a little bit, but who am I to get picky. I've been doing marathon sessions of all things Sarah. One of the best things I've found was a Design Inc. episode when they redid the Design Inc. offices. So fun.

So there's my tip for you. Enjoy a bit of binge watching this weekend!

Oh, and one more tip. Benjamin Moore has a new color collection out called the Williamsburg color collection. I heard that name and immediately thought, oh, that's not for me. I think of Williamsburg and my first thought is a dusty blue found on scratchy couches. But this is thoroughly modern group of colors and there are so many good ones in there. I'm not sure how it's possible that there can be more paint colors invented, but who am I to care when these are so good.

I'm actually already painting something in Cornwallis Red, which is a super orangey red (or reddish-orange, I'm not sure which) that I'm way into right now. I am loving this color. It's a little side table for the living room. You can see it with one coat on in this photo (with the bright orange chairs from the other day).

I'm also loving Galt Blue, which I think is similar but lighter than the ever popular Wythe Blue. I'm actually considering this for the walls in the back room because the test of Wythe Blue seemed very dark.

And check out Parrot Green. I love it because it's not too bright but still fresh without going too avocado.

There are also a whole bunch of great grays. I know, just what we all needed: more grays to further complicate our search for the perfect gray. This one, called Bruton White (why can't we call grays gray instead of blue, white or black?) is a really pretty looking light gray.

So there's one more thing to check out this weekend.

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17 October 2013

Mid-project updates

I know that sometimes it seems like nothing is happening here in Impatient Gardener land. You don't hear from me for a few days (unless you follow me in Facebook or Instagram where I'm much more likely to post regular updates) and you assume I'm probably asleep on the couch with my laptop half on my face. You would be right a lot of the time.

But right now I have a bunch of projects in motion. The problem with projects, I'm finding, is that apparently they can take some time to finish. So instead of waiting what could realistically be months for the finished project (I literally have two big pieces of furniture in the basement that have been 80% finished for going on a year now), I thought I'd show you some of what's going on.

Probably the biggest project I've been working on is the kitchen table. Yep, longtime readers will recall when I did it the first time. I won't get in the why I'm redoing it right now, but suffice to say, something needed to be done.

This is what the table looked like until last Sunday.

Fast forward to this week. This is what the table looks like now (below, and keep in mind that the quality of the photos here is vastly different). I'm getting some positive comments on Facebook but there is work to be done. I'm probably going to take a wire brush to it to scuff it up (after I just got done sanding it by the way) and then use some liming wax. In any case, the final protective finish will be wax. Oh, and I'm repainting the legs too, but just the white that the rest of the kitchen is.

Meanwhile, the basement is full of orange. I don't think I've ever been so into orange before, but here I am with two different shades of orange going on furniture in the basement.

I've been working on redoing these cane chairs I bought two years ago on Craigslist and have gotten to the point where I'm on the last coat of paint, so it was time to double check to make sure I was happy with the color (oranges and reds, in my opinion, take at least three coats if not four to develop to the correct color). I brought one of the chairs up to the room where it's going and draped some of the fabric that I'm recovering the cushions in (yep ... I went for the most overused and expensive fabric you can find on the Internet; I can't help it, I adore it).

The color—Benjamin Moore Starburst Orange—is actually showing up a tad pinker than I expected, but I think once the finish goes gloss, which it is, the color will change a bit.

In other project news, I'm painting another ceiling (funny how I keep doing that even after swearing that I would never do that again). I've also determined that painting the garage is not going to happen this fall. The weather has turned and I don't want to take a chance of the paint job not working. By the way, thank you all for your nice comments on the garage project.

So that's what's happening in my world ... what do you think?

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14 October 2013

Oozing charm all over the place

After a go-go-go business trip last week, it was a go-go-go weekend here. We've been enjoying an amazing fall (which I feel we deserved after a less-than-stellar summer) but the weather is going to take a turn this week. The feeling that the time for outdoor projects is running out has created a mad dash of trying to get what needs to get done, done.

Of course nothing got finished. A lot was started and even more was continued, but as far as I can tell, not a damn thing was finished, which makes for pretty lame blogging.

I think I set a personal record, though. I bought five quarts of paint this weekend, four of them completely different colors (and one a fix of the another color). I didn't actually need them all this weekend, but I will need them soon and I figured as long as I was paint shopping I might as well get them all at once.

Speaking of paint, I spied a Maine Cottage store across from our hotel in Annapolis. I love Maine Cottage's (extremely expensive) furniture so I was eager to pop in and explore the store.

I don't think I could live in a whole house decorated with this furniture. It's all just a little too perfect and it's quite whimsical, so while I think a touch would be great, if you did an entire house in it, it could end up looking like some kind of fantasyland. What I sort of love about Maine Cottage furniture is that it's a great place to get ideas for DIY projects because basically everything is painted a fun color.

I love the Color Bar with cute little holders for swatches of all their paint colors.

The Impatient Gardener -- Maine Cottage

This bed is so charming and such an amazing color.

The Impatient Gardener -- Maine Cottage

This fabric isn't really my favorite but I thought this whole seating area was just so cute. I love the side table (although all their side tables seemed a little on the high side to me).

The Impatient Gardener -- Maine Cottage

I don't know where I'd put a little loveseat like this but I'd sure put it somewhere because it is so comfy looking.

The Impatient Gardener -- Maine Cottage

If I had a summer cottage to decorate (and lots of money to do it) you can bet this nightstand would be in it. I just love that fish.

The Impatient Gardener -- Maine Cottage

Cottage-worthy bar cart.

The Impatient Gardener -- Maine Cottage

The Impatient Gardener -- Maine Cottage

They had these amazing cutting boards that are painted and I just fell in love with them. These two kind of look like lobster pot buoys. I can't think the paint would hold up to repeated washing very well, but I think these could be so cool hanging on the wall when not in use.

The Impatient Gardener -- Maine Cottage

They also had this shape with a leather strap on the top. I'd get one just to hang on the wall.

I loved the floors. 

These round cork boards and the oval coat racks with shiny hooks are so pretty and I took a picture because this is one of those things you could definitely do yourself for a fraction of the cost. I wish someone would start selling unpainting round frames though, because I like me some round frames.

The counter at the Color Bar was so intersting. It appeared to be concrete that an old sail had been embedded into and then painted. 

The Impatient Gardener -- Maine Cottage

 So what do you think? Is this kind of cottage charm up your alley or better used for a bit of DIY inspiration? Or maybe it's just not your cup of tea at all ....

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