Apr 27, 2011

Gray all over

Hello all! I hope you're having a great week so far.

As I mentioned Monday, we've been desperately searching for a new paint color for our office, after the gray we painted it turned out to be a little too purple for our liking. Thanks for all your suggestions for great grays! We went to three different hardware stores and grabbed up all the samples we could find, then came home and taped them on the wall. We started flinging off any that looked too dark or too purple. And soon, our office floor looked like this:

We found that so many grays, even the ones with blue undertones, took on a purple look in our room (or maybe we're just completely terrified of anything looking remotely purple!). Colors that looked great in another blogger's room, for example, still looked too lilac for us. We tried some colors that were more brown or blue, but those ended up being too dark. And we probably spent close to $20 on those darn 8-ounce samples.

But finally, we found a color we like -- we hope. Can you blame us for still having some trepidation? Those purple walls taunt us and shame us with our paint-selection inadequacy. Okay, that's a little dramatic, but still -- we're apprehensive about picking up the roller again.

We ended up picking Porch Grey by Valspar, marked with the arrow. It's got a tinge of green to it that we hope will keep the room from looking purple and make it more of a neutral gray.

Funny -- the color to the left of it is also Porch Grey, but Home Depot's match of it in Behr paint. It didn't quite match the swatch, so we got another sample at Lowe's (we just like throwing away money, huh??), which we liked better -- more gray than green. 

We also liked Martha Stewart's Winter's Day (left of the Home Depot sample), but it was a little too blue for the office. I'm actually really thinking I want to use it when we repaint the guest room!

Here's a longer shot of all the samples on the wall. Okay, do you all believe me now that the original color is kind of purple, now that you can see all the other colors next to it? Or are we really crazy? :) We've already retaped the room to paint again.

So, we're off to buy paint (again) this afternoon! I'll let you know how the repainting goes. Cross your fingers...

Apr 25, 2011

Maine Monday 1: Lobster, of course

Hello all! I hope you had a lovely Easter weekend. We spent lots of time with family and ate waaaay too much. And we covered our office with paint swatches. Still working on picking a new color for our purple paint fiasco. Stay tuned!

I'm launching a new monthly series here at Heart Maine Home --- Maine Monday! Besides my family, friends and house, my home state is one of my big loves -- I mean, it's even in the title of my blog, so I'm sure you already knew that. :) The last Monday of every month, I'm going to feature something I love about Maine, and do my best to tie in some decor/design-related elements as well.

First up, we have

         The iconic Maine lobster...

When people "from away" (our endearing term for non-locals) think of Maine, the first thing that usually springs to mind is lobster, so of course I had to kick off this series with a little about homarus americanus -- the American, or Maine, lobster.

Fun facts about lobster:

The largest lobster ever recorded was caught off the coast of Nova Scotia and weighed more than 44 pounds!

   Lobsters can live up to 50 years.

Lobsters swim backwards.

   Lobster was so common in colonial New England that it was considered a 
   poor man's food.

Lobsters only turn red when cooked. Alive, they're usually a mottled brown-green-orange, but occasionally lobstermen haul in a more rare color, like bright red or blue.

   Lobster is actually really healthy for you, and has fewer calories than 
   chicken (not including, of course, all the butter you dip it in!)

People generally talk about two kinds of lobsters, hard- or soft-shelled, which is based on how long it's been since the lobster molted its shell. If you order Maine lobster from out of state, you're probably eating hard-shell, since they're tougher and can survive being shipped better than soft-shell lobster. If you come to Maine in the summer and order lobster, you're likely eating soft-shell. What's better? Mainers generally prefer soft-shell and say the meat has a sweeter taste. But hard-shell lobsters generally have more meat in them, meaning you get more for your money.

And no, us Mainers don't eat lobster all the time -- it's still fairly expensive here, so it's usually enjoyed as a special treat or at a get-together. The hubs and I usually eat it a few times a year, mostly in the summer or fall.

I actually didn't like lobster until I was an adult -- something about breaking the shell and picking the meat out totally grossed me out as a kid. My favorite way to eat it is still as a lobster roll. The hubs and I like driving out to this lobster shack on Orrs Island, where they have great lobster rolls and a deck on the water where you can sit, eat and enjoy the view.

Nom nom

Ahhhh, perfection

One summer when I was in college, I did a marketing internship at a startup lobster company. Part of my job was to write content for the website, and my boss suggested I spend a day on the water with some of the lobstermen who supplied the company to write profiles about them. 

I'd never been on a lobster boat before, and I soon learned how hard lobstering was. Though the lobstermen have a pulley system that helps them haul the traps out of the water, you still need lots of strength to yank them onto the boat (I totally failed at it).

Each lobster has to be measured to make sure it's the right size. Another fun fact: in Maine, there's not only a minimum size but a maximum size, so the largest lobsters -- likely big ol' fertile males -- are thrown back so they can keep knocking up lots of lady lobsters, helping keep the fishery sustainable. Females with eggs are also thrown back.

The lobsterman showing me how to properly measure the lobster. The pink manicure and notebook coming out of the back pocket are optional.

Then, the keepers are banded -- elastic bands are put around their claws to keep them from snapping you. This was my job, and let me tell you, it was not easy to put bands around an angry lobster, even with the nifty little tool! Luckily I came home with all my fingers.

Me with a woman from the Maine Lobster Promotion Council who came along with us. I can't remember her name!

The gorgeous Owls Head, Maine

There's lots of Maine- and New England-themed decor centered around the lobster, but it can be a little kitschy.

Is that a crab in there?? Fail.

But there are some non-tacky ways to use lobster in decor. I love this vintage Guinness poster. You can see it in F & S's basement at Our Little Beehive.

It's not uncommon to see lobster buoys hanging outside fishing shacks and sheds along the coast, and a row of them along a shed or garage is colorful and effortless. Google lobster buoy and you'll find plenty of places to buy them, both new and used. I'd love to hang a couple weather-beaten ones on our shed.

As I mentioned before, a sun-bleached lobster claw is included in my seashell Mason jar display.

Designer Thomas Paul has a couple lobster pillows that I'm really digging, but they are a tad pricey, at least for this frugal gal. 

My favorite? Home goods made out of recycled lobster and other shells. You can find flatware with shell handles, coasters, travel mugs and Christmas tree ornaments. Pretty, unique and green.

I'll leave you with a photo of the lobster trap Christmas tree built every year in Rockland. The hubs and I went one year for the lighting, and it's crazy cool to see. It's decorated with lights, swags of greenery and lobster buoys. And of course a big light-up lobster on the top. 

I hope you enjoyed this first edition of Maine Monday! 

DISCLAIMER: I hope none of this lobster talk offended anyone. I recognize that to some people, lobster conjures up images of pots of boiling water and questions regarding animal cruelty. If you find yourself objecting to the idea of lobster because of this, I hope you reconsider. Lobster, like many other types of New England seafood, is one of the last free-range food sources left in our country. It's fished sustainably, especially here in Maine because of the maximum size limit, and by local fishermen, not massive or foreign commercial fishing boats. If you're especially concerned with where your food comes from, lobster and other locally caught (depending on where you live!) seafood are a good choice. I don't have any ties to the state's lobster industry -- all of these ideas are my own and shared with you because I appreciate Maine's traditional industries, like lobstering.

Apr 21, 2011

Dreaming of white bedding

Lately I've been really craving some crisp white bedding. I think it's the arrival of spring that's making me want something light and fresh in our bedroom. I've never been a huge fan of white bedding before, but lately I'm dying to switch out our heavy, brown comforter for an airy white quilt or bedspread and some fluffy white pillows. 

Depending on the rest of the room's decor, white bedding can be minimalist...

or cozy...

or beachy...

or elegant...

or rustic...

or modern...

or classic...

or playful.

My favorite? Sarah Jessica Parker's bedroom. Simple, elegant and inviting.

With all the rain we've been having here in Maine, I could just curl up in that bed and take a nice long nap.

What are you craving lately? Am I totally crazy for wanting white bedding?? How easy is it to keep clean?

See more of SJP's house here -- it's gorgeous!

Apr 19, 2011

Paint: 1; Mindy: 0

Excuse my crankiness today. I spent all of yesterday painting my office purple.

Um, what...?? Weren't you painting it gray?

Why, yes, yes I was. I was hoping for something like this...

or maybe this...

or even this.

What did I get? This.

No -- you do not need to adjust your monitor. It's purple.

And to be fair, it doesn't actually look TOO bad in these pictures. But it has a very distinct purple tint in person. It's soooo close to the color I wanted. I loved how it looked while I was cutting in, and even on the first two walls. Then, the light changed, and suddenly BAM. It was purple. 

The hubs thought a second coat would help. It didn't.

It's not a bad color -- actually, it's kind of pretty. I could totally see it in a French country-inspired guest bedroom. But it's not what we were going for. 

The color we picked was Gentle Rain by Behr. We even bought a sample and put it on the wall, and I swear it didn't look purple to us, not even a little.  It's on the bottom.

But I think the pink kept it from looking so purple. And now, the other two colors we liked are starting to look purple too.

I feel like we did everything right, too. We bought samples, put them on the wall in three places, studied them in all lights. Really, we weighed the decision for like three weeks. Where did we go wrong??

Sigh. I guess we're back to square one. It really irritates me to waste $30+ and a whole day of my time, but at least paint isn't too hard to change. Our weekends are pretty booked up or the next few weeks, so I don't know when we'll get around to this. We may have to live with the purple walls for a little while...

Anyone have any gray paint suggestions that aren't actually lavender? We pretty much tried all the swatches from Behr, so we'll have to branch out. Maybe we'll need more of a greige to offset the light in there and keep the grays from looking too...what's that word? Lilacy. (Okay, that's not really a word, but you get what I'm saying.)

I'm actually kind of missing the pink! Who would have thought?? :)

In happier news, my new map decor was featured on Christina's Adventures! I'm so flattered!! Every week, Christina hosts a link party to feature projects that are $20 or less. She has done tons of awesome thrifty DIY projects, but my favorite is her pretty stenciled desk. Someday maybe I'll be brave enough to stencil something like this. You have to check it out! 

Thank you, Christina! It really cheers me up after the purple-wall fiasco...

Apr 15, 2011

More cheap art: Decorating with maps

Happy weekend, all! I have a three-day weekend because Monday is a holiday here in Maine (and in Massachusetts) called Patriot's Day. Not really sure what it's celebrating, but I'll take it :)

I've got a thing for cheap art, like my DIY paint swatch art hanging in our kitchen. I've also got some wrapping paper art in there too, which you can see here (third photo from the top). And the gallery wall in the kitchen is pretty cost-effective too -- printing photos doesn't cost much, and using frames you already have saves a few bucks too -- but it has a great impact.

Our bedroom is pretty big and so far the walls are mostly empty, except for the HomeGoods mirror I hung over my bureau. I've been dying to get something on the walls, but spending money on art for the bedroom isn't a high priority since right now we're focused on updating the office. (Ugh, I have absolutely no progress to report on that). But I knew I could do something thrifty that would make me happy but wouldn't break the bank.

The inspiration came from our honeymoon. While in Aruba, we did a Harley tour around the island, which was by far one of the highlights of our trip and just a fabulous way to see it all. Our tour guide drew out our route on a map and let us keep it as a souvenir. It was such a fun trip that I knew I wanted to showcase it somehow in our house. And I knew I had more maps lying around.

Since my goal was thrifty art, I scoured Michaels for some cheap-o frames and found these. A pack of two was $7.99 -- even the giant 16" x 20" inch ones! I grabbed a pack of 8" x 10" and 11" x 14".

Then, I gathered my maps. I didn't want to cut them to fit the frame, so I folded them instead, tucking the extra in behind. 

I used the inserts from the frame to test out a few arrangements on the wall, like I did for my gallery wall.

Then, it was time to break out my hammer and nail those puppies up!

Here's the wall before.


And with the new art!

So colorful and fun!

I'm sure you're just dying to know more about all these maps....so here goes. Clockwise from the top left...

...A map of Boston. The hubs and I have been a few times together to go to Red Sox games and visit friends. It's such a fun city, and we love it here.

Below that, a map of Dijon, France, where I studied abroad for three-and-a-half months while I was in college. Seriously, one of the best experiences of my life! It was my first time away from home for that long, and my first time abroad (not counting Canada), and it was totally life-changing. My host family's house was right in the center of the city...like about under the first 'e' in "Centre."

Next to that, a map of the Maine Lakes region, where we got married. It came in the chamber's regional guide, which we snagged from a local hotel. I love its whimsical design and the illustrated critters! There's a moose and a fox on the bottom, but sadly I had to crop them out.

I did save the squirrel, though.

We got married at Moose Pond, right in the center of the photo...

And finally, above that, the map of Aruba.

Our hotel was on Palm Beach. Ahhh, the beach. I really miss it...

And a couple more pictures, 'cause I like pictures...

Then, since the wall below looked a little bare, I staged it with the chest and fuzzy throw that usually live at the end of our bed.

And since I took those pictures at night, here's one in the daytime, mostly to show you that our bedroom walls aren't actually that orange...

While maps are pretty and fun to decorate with in their own right, I love how personal these ones are to us. Looking at them will make us remember our wedding, honeymoon, and trips we've taken. I saved some room at the bottom so we can add more -- like a map of our town, and of Quebec City, where we're headed in June to celebrate our first anniversary. The hubs calls it the travel wall. I like it!

Since all the maps were free, this cost me only $16 for the frames. Art that's frugal AND meaningful...that totally turns me on. :)

Want more map decorating ideas? Check out Martha's tips here.

And stop by this link party at A Soft Place to Land specifically for decorating with maps!

Here are the other parties I'm linking up to! Click on the button to stop by and visit!