Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The stairs, the stairs!!!

For the past week, but especially over the weekend, I have been preoccupied with my latest project . . . sailboat cabin cushions!  Newly cut four-inch foam cushions that fit together like a puzzle to form a couch that transforms into bed with the lowering of a table.  And they needed covers.  So I set to work, and learned a lot along the way.  Most importantly, that some Sunbrella fabric will shred if you just look at it cross-eyed, never mind cutting into and sewing it.  Thank God for my serger!

Now the cushions are done, and today has been a day of catching up.  Namely with my children.  John is a rock star husband and father, and took charge of both house and kids this weekend so that I could work, but I missed my kidlets.

Without further ado, one pile 'o cushions!


Yes, I know.  It's kind of lame that I took a picture of a pile of cushions, but I don't think anyone except the boat owner would care for individual shots.  Pile it is.

Now for the real reveal!

I have been talking about how much I hate my stairs for an eon.  Or four years anyway, which is how long we have been living in our house.  When we moved in we had a horrible big box store stock carpet runner on the stairs that I despised.  But I didn't have $400 to put in the fabulous runner that I would rather have, so the carpet stayed.



Then one spring morning last year I decided I had had enough and couldn't deal with the runner for one more day.  So out it came, bajillion staples and all.  It couldn't be any worse to have plain wood with a white back, right?



Plain wood tread with a white back, my eye.  The previous homeowners (or whoever did all the fabulous DIY home improvements we have been fixing for four years) had done their usual thorough job on the stairs, meaning they looked super crappy.  And I couldn't put the runner back in, because in order to get the carpet runner out with the bajillion staples holding it down I had to hack it to bits.

Now I had (still) super-creaky stairs that were even louder than ever thanks to no carpet, and worse naked than with the runner.  Or maybe if you squint they looked kind of vintage-y?

Not so much.

What I wanted to do was paint the stairs, but I was paralyzed with indecision.  There are too many cool stair ideas out there!  And with only one flight of stairs leading to the second floor, this was not a project I wanted to have to re-do.  So I did nothing.

For more than a year.

Finally, after having naked stairs for 15 months, John and I decided we wanted to have our house in more of a done place.  Which meant I had to tackle the stairs.

Hmmm.  I had the idea that I wanted to do some sort of ombre effect, but couldn't decide on a color.  And then I saw this picture in Real Simple!  They used five colors, and I knew I wanted a little more gradual change in color.  I  chose to use all seven colors* on one color sample strip. Off I went to pick up my sample-sized Benjamin Moore paint pots, along with a new paint brush and a pot of matte polyurethane.  (I already had primer from my many previous paint projects.)

This being the only staircase, I had to leave every other riser blank while I painted the rest with primer, 2 coats of paint, and three coats of poly.  I anticipated the whole project taking at least two weeks, which is what intimidated me in the first place, and was pleasantly surprised to be done in a week.  Yay for fast drying paint and poly!  Because it is NOT fun to carry your kids up and down every other stair for a week.

And now for the finished product . . . voila!


$60 later I LOVE my finished stairs, and realize now that it was not the daunting project that I thought it would be.  Great when the projects turn out to be shorter than you estimated instead of longer . . .


Need help with a decorating or storage dilemma?  Give Inspired Interiors a call at 207.632.7619, or check us out online at

*Paint colors: 2050-10 thru 2050-70 (Salamander, Dollar Bill Green, Newport Green, Florida Keys Blue, Waterfall, Arctic Blue, Blue Bonnet)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Embracing normal

"normal is regular.
normal is safe.
warm and comfortable. . .
but normal isn't great.
normal isn't fantastic.
normal can never be amazing."
          ~Mini-Cooper ad, 2013

I beg to differ.  I think normal can be amazing.

I've been a runner for 14 years.  Over those years I have slowly improved, my running tempered by life . . . getting married, having injuries, two pregnancies, weird night work schedules . . .

These days I am running stronger and faster and more consistently than ever before.  So it goes to figure that I should be able to break my all-time 5K PR of 22:08, right?

Last summer and this I have been pushing and fighting and training hard, with the goal of making it to 21:59 and beyond.  With a mile time of 6:35 it doesn't seem like a stretch.  But with each race I have fallen short, my best this year being 22:37.  And with each race I have looked forward to the next with more and more angsty anticipation, dreading it more than I've looked forward to the chance to run.

Last weekend I ran the Shipyard Half-Marathon in Portland, and due to the heat and humidity and burned feet ran my worst half ever.  I wanted to stop from the moment I started, and hated every step.  And not just because it was hot but because I had in my head that I had to run a certain pace, and that if I didn't, then I had failed.

And I did it for a while.  I held an eight-minute pace for seven miles, and then just couldn't do it anymore.  The only positive things I can say about that race is that I ran every step, and didn't end up hospitalized, as some people did.  I have never HATED running as much as I did during that race.

So when it came to Emily's Run this weekend, I decided it was time for a running re-boot.

Time to have fun.

Time to forget about time.

Time to encourage others.

Time to be normal.

So I did.

I ran comfortably hard.  I enjoyed myself.  I cheered people on when they passed me instead of mentally cursing them out.  I said "thanks" when spectators sprayed water.  I smiled and waved as people cheered.  When I looked up and saw a giant hill looming, I was thankful to be strong enough to power up it.  I ran across the finish line happy with what I had accomplished.  I ran 23 minutes flat, good enough for 3rd in my age group, and enjoyed it.

At some point I will break 22 minutes.  One of these days all my hard work will pay off with a monster PR.  My training, the weather, my sleep, pre-race banana, legs, and lungs will all be just right, and I'll crush it.  And then keep moving on to the next goal.

But right now I am going to enjoy my normal life, my normal running, my normal (sometimes bratty) kids, my normal house, and my (above average) normal husband.

I don't think embracing normal is giving up on an extraordinary life.  But the extraordinary can be found in everyday life, and I caught a glimpse on Emily's Run.
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