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August 23, 2009

stained

today i restained our swing and half the deck (with my mother's assistance). cam watched the kids. for some reason i found this quite funny. (cam: when do i get to do my stuff?)

apparently this is how things worked when i was a kid -- my dad "would rather vacuum," my mother told me, than do yard work or anything else outside. (i guess indoor work also included watching me and my brother, but i'm not sure i remember ever being watched... but who honestly remembers their toddler years?) this rarely happens in my house, though, so i tried very hard to enjoy the experience.

August 11, 2009

changing plans and priorities

we finally made our plans to visit cam's family in hawaii. it finally seemed like the right time. cam found a nice package including air and hotel, and we were set.

but then our plumbing suddenly went to hell. completely and totally to hell.

we lived in a weird state of limited water usage for well over a week. as the plumbers worked to fix one thing, they'd find another that needed work. jackhammers at night. plumbing repairs by moonlight. turned out the plumbers worked swing. that made it less upsetting that they didn't show up until late afternoon each day.

we cancelled our hotel and got vouchers for the airfare. (i don't even want to talk about that debacle.) we got an emergency loan. we grumped a lot. yes, my mom's house has a perfectly nice little bathroom, but having to use it in the middle of the night made me feel like i had an outhouse. (they were able to restore water to her house earlier than to ours.)

so. no hawaii, so we're going to take a few days off and go to san diego. legoland and assorted museums. it's more a paul trip than a family trip, but at least it's something. maybe we'll go to hawaii in december or something. christmas in hawaii sounds nice.

July 31, 2009

sometimes homeownership sucks

holy catastrophic plumbing failure, batman!

July 3, 2009

in with the fix, out with the cash

our awnings were finished and installed two weeks ahead of schedule. they look great, but of course, now everything else looks a little shabby. our next project will have to involve a little more elbow grease, a little less contractor assistance. i'm thinking repainting the railings.

it's been a rough few weeks money-wise. as soon as we paid the deposit for the awnings, we had a plumbing emergency to the tune of $2K+. and then the car was in the shop twice... i'm glad we got the awnings done, but it seems to have triggered a chain reaction that we could have done without.

June 16, 2009

$2K

damned plumbing debacle!

June 6, 2009

out of pocket, out of touch

we are sprucing up our home. it's been a while since we've done any significant home improvement projects, but now it's time to get back on that wagon. our house, while cute, has something of the crack den about it. bare dirt out front, awning-less awning frames, peeling paint on railings... eeesh. i tend to think unkind things about people who have let their houses go, so i guess that means i ought to think unkind things about myself.

i've had people come out to give us estimates on a few things, and can i say:

OMG!

i bet business is both good and bad for these guys -- good because people are afraid to sell and so are investing in their homes, but bad because, well, people are also afraid to spend. but damn! one guy factored in a 25% discount because i found his business through google, and i still nearly gasped in shock. another one just sent in an estimate that was way more than i was expecting. i really have no idea how much things cost. on to get more estimates... and to scrap some of our plans...

November 8, 2008

joint gift

i've been sort of out of commission lately because i've been obsessing over a new plan.

the other day i went to cam with a new idea. i had read something on a parenting board about how other couples deal with christmas: gifts, yes or no? apparently "no." it seems more common to buy something for the house or take a trip or something along those lines. so i proposed to cam we do something similar. no gifts, just pool our cash and do something bigger. i tossed out the idea of buying some art or redoing the bathroom. cam had been grumbling about the layout lately, so he latched onto the idea of the bathroom right away. (he predictably scoffed at the idea of art.)

of course this means that i've been researching bathroom stuff like a fiend. our original bathroom remodel plans can't be reused because our tub and shower set were discontinued. i've been unable to locate a good substitute, so i've been working alternatives.

it's been fun, but i've neglected my writing, my "networking" (ah, dear facebook), my sleep. as much as i like doing this kind of stuff, part of me can't wait to just make a plan and move forward with it.

September 21, 2008

fry

the pond is full of tiny minnows! hundreds of them! when did that happen?

September 20, 2008

half-assed housekeeping

there are few things more satisfying to me than hearing the dishwasher running and not seeing any cups or plates that i've missed. or folding the last load of laundry and knowing that the only unwashed stuff in the house are the clothes on our backs. i'm not much of a housewife, so these things -- these tiny victories -- are all i have. i don't need a pine-fresh smell to hit me the minute i come in the door, i don't need to see a mirror finish on the floor. i just need to feel like at least one tiny spot of the house is as "done" as it can be.

August 16, 2008

rosy outlook

bought some rosy red minnows for the pond from a local pet shop (not a big chain, they only had goldfish in their feeder section). they are teenytiny and hard to see in our deep green pond, but they seem to be doing their job because i don't see too many wiggly mosquito larvae. hope they manage to survive against those evil, evil raccoons. (we bought a motion-sensitive sprinkler that seems to be successfully fighting the good fight in keeping them away from the pond, so they took it out on the pool instead. sigh.)

August 9, 2008

nap, dammit

my mom is off visiting relatives for the day. paul and cam are off bug-hunting at madrona marsh. nola is asleep. why am i not asleep? so far i have done some laundry, loaded up the dishwasher, tied the water hyacinth to a rock to keep it from floating around the edge of the pond (the raccoons savaged it last night), and general picking-up-around the house.

i was convinced i'd fall asleep instantly because we had a rough night. woke up at one point to find paul in the bed. four people in a queen-sized bed does not make for a comfortable sleeping experience. my children are aggressive sleepers. nola by herself can almost knock me off the bed. paul CAN knock me off the bed. i spent a lot of time hanging off the bed while trying to protect nola from her brother's feet and elbows. yes, i could have put her back in the crib, but where's the fun in that?

my head is splitting, my bones ache and yet i persist in sitting here, awake...

August 8, 2008

solar-powered

lest you think that the pond has been completely taken over by my mother, i want you to know that i'm almost as bad as her. (almost.) she may be doing things the old-fashioned way -- reading books (which i bought a long time ago), driving around, calling nurseries -- but i've got the interwebs on my side. i've been reading up on ponding, i've already ordered a bunch of plants online that we haven't been able to locate locally, and yesterday i added a new friend to the pond: a little solar lily pad fountain. it was cheap and rather silly, but it adds a nice little trickly sound to what i had originally envisioned to be a still and silent water feature. i don't expect it to last all that long, but at least it'll be cute while it lasts. we added a mosquito killer to the pond last night, so next stop: minnow-land.

sure, i would love to have a full-scale fountain and fancy filtering systems so i could have more interesting fish, but when it comes down to it, raccoons just love eating interesting fish and yanking electrical cords out of the pond. hopefully those mean little (and big) guys will leave my little solar fountain and mosquito eaters alone.

August 6, 2008

ponding

today my mother, nola and i went to the nursery my mother visited yesterday. there we met up with the nice elderly gentleman she had spoken with about water lilies and other water plants. we ended up with two lilies (one purple, one red), a papyrus and a water hyacinth. (i suspect she'll be back there in a few days to pick up more lilies.) i said i would pay, but she decided that she would -- she was really getting quite excited about the project. i agreed, but warned her not to get too attached to any fish this time because she bawled her eyes out when the raccoons hit our pond that one time and left fish heads and guts EVERYWHERE.

when we got home, it was a little too hot out to do much work, but we did put the lilies and the hyacinth in the water. i put the papyrus in a little bit later. unfortunately, the wind knocked the papyrus pot over, so i had to go back into the pond later in the day. (my mother actually had me move the papyrus twice. i was soaked the second time.)

it looks pretty nice, even though it's still rather empty. we'll need to get some dechlorinating stuff (we have chloramines in our water, which, unfortunately, doesn't just gas off like chlorine) soon, and i've already ordered some oxygenating plants that we couldn't find at that nursery. my mother plans to hit another garden center tomorrow, so who knows what she'll show up with afterwards. paul seems quite pleased with the whole thing.

it's nice when a project seems to be working...

August 5, 2008

impulsive water feature

on monday night i got the wacky idea to start up our old pond again (we drained it after many, many trials and tribulations -- pump/filter issues, string algae, goldfish overpopulation and voracious raccoons, oh my!). but this time i wanted more plants and only enough fish to handle the mosquitoes. i talked to my mom about it -- using bricks to raise some potted plants (we already have some thriving horsetail) and then buying a few lilies, etc. -- and she was more than game. cam and i have talked about reviving the pond many, many times (and as many different things, i.e. bog garden, massive firepit), but it struck me that if we didn't just do something, it would sit empty for all eternity because we were planning ourselves into something too elaborate and time-consuming to do without devoting half our lives to it. after some thought, i made the clearly logical decision to just half-ass it and see what happens!

today i put in some bricks and started filling the pond with water. my mom went on a plant reconnaissance mission to a local nursery. paul wants the pond to look like an artificial coral reef. cam just smiles at all of our nonsense.

(by the way, the pond is a 10' aboveground round concrete monstrosity that came with the house. i wouldn't mind demolishing it, but the backyard is clearly built around it, and the cost of removal of the pond and the stone walkway around it and fixing the deck just doesn't appeal.)

July 31, 2008

smoky

so. after setting the toaster oven on fire, i'm off to search for a replacement... damn damn damn!

postscript: oooh! costco has a stainless steel conveyor toaster on their site. only $549.99. dorm dc-style. 400+ slices an hour. yep, THAT'S what i'm talking about.

July 25, 2008

no room of one's own

i just realized i have never mentioned how we fit nola into our house.

when we bought this house, i think we originally intended to have only one kid, so the fact that we had only two bedrooms wasn't an issue. (yes, we have a computer/craft/junk room, but it opens to the backyard. like hell i am going to give a child a bedroom with a door to the outside world. if said child grows up and sneaks out the window, that's one thing, but i'm not about to hand the kid his/her very own escape route.) now that we have two kids, they'll share a room once nola is old enough for a big girl bed until they can't stand to share a room any longer. (no idea when that will be.)

nola's crib (paul's old crib, painted purple) is now in our room. the underbed drawer kept falling off its track, so we removed it completely and put it on casters. i moved paul's old rocking chair (which is upholstered in blue denim) to our room, too. we used to have two canvas-covered shelving units with our clothes (the closet in our room isn't very big, so we kept stuff on shelves and in plastic drawer units hidden by the canvas covers) but they were farmed out to other places in the house and replaced with ikea pax wardrobes. the plastic drawer units now live in our closet, full of nola's stuff. her little dresses also take up part of a clothing rail.

paul's room has not escaped unscathed. i replaced the rocking chair with a big chair and ottoman poached from the living room (for storytime). he keeps his clothes in a big blue armoire, so we cleared out his closet to hold the changing table and nola's diapering supplies. we call it the "changing room." luckily the closet has a little window in it so we can air it out every once in a while.

after all the prep for paul's nursery, it was weird and a little sad that we had to shoehorn nola in like this, but she doesn't seem to mind. this whole process has reminded me how little a baby actually needs. as long as she has food and diapers, she's a happy girl.

February 12, 2008

rinse and hold

after almost a two-month wait, we got our new dishwasher on wednesday. it is the AWESOME.

January 18, 2008

covering the floor

have been hunting for a rug for the living room for the past few weeks. finally narrowed it down to a handful of rugs -- and then i finally measured the living room and discovered that i had guesstimated too small a size, and that the increased prices corresponding to the increased size knocked most of my choices out of my budget. well, shit.

so... i'm turning to flor. i've accepted and rejected flor half a dozen times already, but this time sizing isn't a problem, the price is right and we won't have to worry about the additional expense of a rug pad. to seal the deal, i just got an email about their new santa monica showroom, so we can actually go see the stuff in person (playing around with six-inch samples just isn't the same). hope it works out this time.

January 8, 2008

re-decor

i've been starting to feel rather antsy about the house lately... i suspect it's a mild case of nesting. since i don't have a nursery to decorate this time around and the conversion of paul's big boy room to a big boy/girl room isn't going to happen for a few years, i've turned my focus to other parts of the house. i'm sure i am driving cam crazy.

on sunday i finally covered the glass panels of the entertainment unit. the messiness behind the glass has been bugging me for a long time, but i could never figure out what to use to cover it all up. i've had this image in mind for a long time, but i never could decide on a fabric to use. for some reason, today i decided that dammit, i was going to do something about it. i took some faux woodgrain contact paper (white ash) and cut a piece to fit the glass. much to my utter dismay, the paper didn't unroll very flat. i was about to give up when cam suggested we pull out the glass and put it on the front. luckily, the glass came out really easily, so i covered the two panels with the paper while cam watched football. then he put them back up for me.

it's a little hard to get used to the overall... woodsiness of the entertainment unit, but it looks nice -- and more importantly, it looks neat. i'm pretty happy with the effect, but now the rest of the living room looks unfinished...

January 4, 2008

mess

i'm awake because i took a nap after dinner. cam and paul are asleep. i thought i'd do some cleaning and general tidying, but the sight of what happened to the house during my nap has sent me back to bed.

August 26, 2007

soft underfoot

got six samples from flor. maybe i was expecting too much, but i was pretty disappointed. (for the record, i got the puzzle piece one in blue, morning coffee (latte), working class (cool gray), pressed flowers, twiggy (taupe), and happy landings (teal).) none of them impressed me enough to consider using it in my living room. we liked twiggy, but it's a light use selection. let's be honest, our living room takes a lot of abuse, and i expect that a light-use rug would get pretty fucked up pretty quickly.

and so the haphazard rug search continues. am currently in love love love with angela adams' birch (morning), but it's too expensive for me to willingly subject it to paul. also have some love for the karastan plum blossom rug, but that one is a bit too... popular. (mariska looks lovely in the ad, though.)

trudge, trudge, trudge. part of me wants to stop the hunt for perfection and just get something cheap so we can live with a rug for a while (no more wanton sliding of the coffee table), but temporary has an irritating habit of becoming permanent around here.

August 8, 2007

sow's ear

i've been obsessing over my living room furniture lately. the ektorp 3-seater is currently in my sights. even though it's only a few years old, it already looks like hell. i know we could fix it up with a new slipcover, but ikea hasn't really come out with a fabric option that has been appealing enough. i've considered bleaching the slipcover we have -- a very stained idemo beige -- and going white, but i'm a little intimidated by that project. besides, ikea does have a white one available if i want to go that route. in the meantime, i've ordered some nice wooden bun feet to replace the stock plastic ones. i'm not sure if this will improve the sofa much, but it can't hurt. after all, new shoes can work wonders for an old outfit. (or so i've heard, anyway.)

August 6, 2007

not from scratch

the cookies i baked on saturday turned out a little too soft. while reading an article this morning about mixing concrete, i realized i had added a touch too much soy milk. my interests, they are all... home-based.

July 28, 2007

glass

apparently we don't know our own strength.

this morning i was cleaning the bottom shelf of the refrigerator in the sink while paul watched tv in the living room. the plastic drawers were already drying on towels on the counters. hands in yellow rubber gloves, hot water cascading over the shelf, i slowly pried the glass away from the frame. as the glass touched the sink, there was a tremendous crash and glass (safety glass, of course) went everywhere. my hands were still in the same position. i blinked, stunned. the obvious thing to do would be to swear really loudly, but there are no doors separating the living room from the kitchen. instead i turned off the water and stood there for a while, listening numbly to the strange cracking-ice-like sounds coming from the sink full of glass and water. the next step was to find the manual for the refrigerator, look for the model number, then hit the phone book for appliance part shops. a chance glance at a sears ad had me running for my computer. sears.com had the part for what i thought was a reasonable price, but i feared the shipping costs. local sears stores (searses?) didn't have the part in stock. i googled a bit and found another place that not only sold the part, but sold it for half of the sears price -- as a result, i was able to get the replacement glass and 2-3 day shipping for cheaper than the item alone from sears. once the embarrassing cya-shopping was done, i returned to the kitchen to clean up.

later in the day, we were all hanging out in the living room while eating our dinner. cam was trying to catch a fly. paul protested the fact of an open window and proceeded to smack the window hard. the loud sound i heard i thought was just the window frame hitting the sill (i have no idea what the technical names for these things might be), but cam's horrified face made me realize that the child had broken the window. thank god for laminated glass. paul burst into tears. once we determined that he wasn't hurt, we were just astonished that he could have hit a window hard enough to break it. i really thought i had a few years before the window-breaking of boyhood began, and i most definitely thought it would be stray balls, not wee bare hands. jesu cristo.

if i hear another crash later today, i'm just going to bed.

March 16, 2007

underfoot

as i've mentioned maybe once in passing, i've been looking for a rug for the living room. after looking online at countless rugs and thinking, "huh. that could work" or "that's pretty," i suddenly found THE one. swoon.

it's the right color, it combines my need for a rug (my mom: what a good idea -- paul would like something soft to walk on) with my love for faux bois, and i haven't seen it here there and everywhere. it's more expensive than i wanted, though, so i've got to make some hard choices: food or floor?

February 26, 2007

tiles and fixtures

i just wrote a really long post about my bathroom. how sad is that?

cosmetic changes

the other day i got tired of having the giant costco package of toilet paper on the floor in the bathroom. before i say anything further (you probably think i just dumped that econopack in the middle of the room), a short description of my bathroom is in order.

as you enter the room, the door swings to your right, where it hits the toilet. immediately to your left is the shower. straight ahead of you is a counter (cabinets beneath) that spans the length of the room. that's not saying much. there is one small sink. the tile counter is a bumpy gold and white mess. the same tile covers the tub surround.

when we moved in, the bathroom was a dark wine color with dark wood cabinetry. (it looked like a bordello, we joked, although in retrospect it was more like a bad italian restaurant.) minimal lighting. lots of mirrors. lots of towel racks and towel rings. white jacquard mini-blinds. it steamed up easily and water left dark streaks on the wine paint that i couldn't scrub off. because a remodel wasn't really necessary nor affordable at that time, we launched an all-out redecorating war. i replaced the mini-blinds with my favorite window-film in some ridiculous pseudo-monet. paid for installation of a solatube. took down almost all of the rings and rods (including a door-mounted rod that was hung so low that any towels on it rubbed the toilet every time you opened the door). since we liked the idea of a door-mounted rod, though, we bought a double rod that we put up nice and high. cam painted the walls two shades of green (light above, dark below). and oddly enough, it even made the awful sheet vinyl look okay. i painted the cabinet frames the same dark green as the walls, then painted the drawers and cab doors white. replaced the hardware with inexpensive silvery hinges from lowes and equally inexpensive silvery knobs off ebay. got rid of a strange heavily mirrored cabinet. replaced the giant mirror over the sink (hideously enough, behind it was a dirty alcove for a recessed medicine cabinet) with a smaller one with a silvered frame. i printed out illustrations from a book and framed them. cam put up a new light (a clearanced thing from pottery barn) and a wall-mounted soap dispenser. i found an amusing little shelf from some home improvement catalog that i installed in the under-sink cab -- when you opened the left-hand cabinet door, out came the shelf with our little trash can perched atop it. the best thing about the bathroom was the curved shower rod. suddenly the curtains (a martha stewart everyday one, of course, and a liner) stayed put instead of blowing into you while you showered.

the bathroom looked great, but there was one problem. whoever designed the room -- or whoever put in the tub -- was a complete idiot. the tub surround goes to the ceiling, so there's this little wall at the foot of the tub. the drawers and cabinet doors on that side of the room do not open fully because they slam into that little wall. it's the dumbest thing ever. knowing those cabinets weren't fully functional and that we'd never really use them, i blocked them off with a tall hamper. somehow, the toilet paper ended back behind the hamper (you knew i'd get back to that, right?).

at one time we drew up plans for a remodel that cheerfully eradicated that terrible bathroom design, but we ended up leaving things as they were. (partially because we had a negative experience with a plumber, truth be told.) it's not a bad bathroom, just a stupid one.

for a long time, i would pull the hamper out and contort myself into strange positions to get to the stuff stored back there (usually extras from costco runs -- toothpaste, contact lens solution, cetaphil, cotton swabs). a few months back i cleared that section out because there actually was room on the other side (you know, the side we could easily access).

cam and i discussed where to put the toilet paper. since we had recently elfa-ized our back room, we talked about putting up standards and wire shelves. i thought about it from time to time, but ultimately decided to go with target specials. bought two things that look kind of like this (bigger, though) and stacked them. (i already had one in paul's closet, so i knew it would fit the space.) i put the hamper in the bottom, then spaced the shelves to fit some of our extra toiletries. toilet paper went on the very top. success!

it's not ideal (i get clonked on the head sometimes trying to get stuff out of the hamper), but it's easy to change if i get tired of it. those shelves could easily find homes in other parts of my house. if i need to move it, i don't have holes in my walls. i didn't need to have a wall rail or shelves cut to fit. it's cute. it's storage. most importantly, the toilet paper now has a home. it's so thrilling.

February 16, 2007

elves

the day before the superbowl cam and i went to the container store and bought our shelving for the computer room. because my layout was supersimple, my shelves are already up. hopefully we'll get to work on cam's this weekend.

we thought we were coming in at the very end of the sale, so we planned to get there right after they opened. amusingly enough, there was no need for us to rush -- they extended the sale through this weekend. upon learning this (thanks, joel), i told cam that we should hurry up and put his shelves up so that we could go back to the sale if it turned out we needed something. he hemmed and hawed and made all sorts of noises about how 30% off isn't a big deal when the item is really small, cheap, etc. etc. (you know, like a bracket or something). i said that he was rationalizing his procrastination. he made a face. i smirked.

i'm really pleased by my shelves. cam put up the top tracks and then left the rest to me (at my request, mind you). the quality is undeniable and the components were easy to set up (i used two 32" top tracks, three 36" hanging standards, nine brackets, shelf connectors galore and enough white melamine for two 60" x 12" shelves and one 60" x 8" shelf). we bought the platinum finish and i am very happy with it. everything feels sturdy and smooth.

the salesclerk who pulled everything together for us was very efficient, as was the checker. but they got into a somewhat personal conversation while i was standing there and i felt a little uncomfortable, like i was either supposed to just jump in or just pretend that i wasn't paying attention. they were nice, though, so i tried not to let my anti-social nature shine through too much. (the salesclerk was so nice, she stayed with us the whole time and even helped load the car.) i think they were a little amused that we arrived with shopping list in hand. i guess most (read almost all) people take advantage of the free planning assistance. but honestly, with as straightforward a job as ours, there didn't seem to be any need to partake of that.

it turned out that the hardest part of our trip was driving home. the shrink-wrapped shelves slid around so much that we ended up buying some cheap blankets from a neighboring ikea to cushion/wrap/protect them. cam also drove really slow, which helped. i believe that part of cam's motivation was that the rails were right behind my seat. if there had been an accident, those rails could have gone straight through the seat back -- i would have been impaled. how's that for a pleasant thought?

if i had a bigger house with bigger closets, maybe i'd consider using more elfa shelving, but right now i think i'd be wasting my money on them. my closets are so small, they just aren't worthy of the stuff. what i'm currently interested in is ikea's pax shelving because they're freestanding units that mimic closets. sexy. maybe in a couple of years i'll contemplate replacing the cheap wooden bookshelves we're using now (ikea's gorm line, i think). i couldn't possibly do it any sooner because i'd be sad about ditching the canvas slipcovers my mom and i made to make said cheap shelves look more presentable.

to be perfectly honest, though, i don't want elfa or pax. i just want less stuff. but pseudoparadoxically -- i'm a wanty person, so maybe thinking of organizational methods isn't such a bad idea.

January 23, 2007

tie a string around my finger

we are planning on taking advantage of the container store's 30% off elfa sale to organize our back room, which is currently piled high with computer stuff, craft stuff and tools galore. cam is in the process of cleaning his end of the room (i can't even get to mine because of all the tools), and we're supposed to head down to costa mesa this weekend.

now, i love container store. i love elfa. a few years back we bought three sets of their drawers to use as a pantry. we had planned everything online, so an associate took our shopping list and returned maybe 15 minutes later with a full shopping cart. it was rad, and i cop to feeling superior to all of the people waiting in line for planning assistance. we plan to do the same thing this time.

but here's the issue: i'm already feeling anxious that we're not going to make it this weekend because the back room is a chore and a half and i don't want to go if we're going to buy the stuff and not be ready to install it for months (it'll never get installed if that's the case). i don't need to feel anxious because the container store is worried that i don't remember that the sale is going on NOW.

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good freaking lord. remind me again why i'm on their email list?

January 21, 2007

unfestive

christmas stuff officially came down last weekend. i had already removed the decorations the week before that (during the colts-chiefs game), but cam didn't pull down the tree for a week. while cam was taking apart the tree, i took the christmas cards off the wall (which i should have done earlier, but i wanted to make sure i got a picture of my display before i dismantled it). the living room is just about back to normal.

when i started removing ornaments from the tree, paul was miffed, but it was time. (i had wanted to take the tree down before new year's day, but he had requested an extension.) as soon as i lifted one shiny blue ball off a branch, paul was standing in front of me.

paul: no!
paul: don't do that.
paul: we can leave it up all decorated.
paul: soon it will be christmas again!
me: so, what you're saying is that we should leave everything the way it is all year long so that when it's christmas again we'll be ready?
paul: yes.
me: um, NO.
cam: [laughter]
paul: [walks away in defeat]

i'm all for shortcuts and economy of motion, but jesu cristo, ignoring the post-holiday clean-up for the sake of saving some time in december is just not an option that appeals to me.

January 13, 2007

windows

i have privacy issues. even though i lived in apartments for several years, i just never got used to the whole livingthisclose to other people (aside from the ones sharing my abode, of course).

in my parents' house, the kitchen window looked out into the street. the living room window looked out into the street. the dining room window looked out into the backyard. the den windows looked out at a fence (only a few scant feet from the window, but still, it was our fence). upstairs, from my bedroom window i had a nice view of the roof of the house next door. (not having next door neighbors with a second story spoiled me. never really thought about privacy until one december when i heard talking outside my window while i was changing my clothes. yes, my neighbors were resting on their roof after putting up their christmas lights.) my parents' bedroom window overlooked the neighbors' backyard, but as far as i can remember, the only time i ever looked out of that window was when the neighbors-across-the-street were having some mild troubles. (their roof was on fire.)

one of the first things i must do when i move into a new place is put up curtains. if it's an apartment and blinds already exist, cool, i don't have the need to replace those, but if there isn't anything there... i'm taking measurements and then i'm off to target or something like that.

when i moved here to my house, i suddenly had crystal-clear views into my neighbors' houses, views obstructed only by the charming (but a pain to paint) muntins that seem to be fairly standard on windows of old houses. i had ideas about the curtains, but i wanted them fairly sheer to keep the rooms from being too dark. hm. such ideas sent me on the craziness-beyond-ugliness-rampage-through-home-depot-and-online that resulted in cloudy blue sky window films on my living room windows, faux stained glass on my library windows, faux watercolors on my bathroom windows, faux rice paper on the windows above the kitchen sink, and a strange textured blue film on the windows on the back door.

since i did all of this myself, it looks pretty crappy in many places. the bathroom is okay because it was the first room i tackled (had to replace the white tapestry vertical blinds -- ugh). the kitchen also looks good because of the texture of the paper. then from that point, you could see i was just racing against time to keep prying next-door eyes from looking inside my house. i cut and cut and cut the window films according to some measurements that i had hastily taken -- not realizing that almost none of the lights in my divided light windows were the same size.

i never say this, but... d'oh!

one day, i promised myself, i'd replace --at the very least -- the cloudy blue skies in my living room. during the summer i took down the curtains in there, so those hideous things have been taunting me. now it looks like their time has finally come. this evening i spent some time taking the blue down one at a time (of course, you think i'd strip them all off at once?) and putting up some sand-textured german translucent contact-paper-esque stuff that i bought on a whim. (one day i'll have to explain that whim.) it's ugly when the lights are on (and i fear what it will look like during the day), but i do still plan to have some sort of sheer window treatment, so that will put a nice gloss over it.

i haven't finished the windows -- i'm waiting to see it in the daylight -- but what's up is a vast improvement over the blue skies (the pieces of which are puffing and peeling away from the window). if i don't like the effect, i might just have to get some more of that rice paper stuff i used in the kitchen. we'll see. i'm trying to reinvent my living room (without buying furniture), so this process is kind of fun. besides, it's nice to work on this without being afraid that someone is watching me though the exposed panes.

November 26, 2006

verdant

after almost a full day of toil, the sod is now in place. it looks great. it's green and lush. i don't know how long it will stay this way, so i better enjoy it while i can.

yesterday we worked our asses off on this damned patch of ground. after months in the making, we finally have a lawn. early morning a truck pulled up around the corner, and a little forklift delivered a pallet and a half of sod (marathon 2) in front of our garage. pretty quickly we got a rhythm going. my uncle brought pieces of sod up the first set of steps and stacked it up in neat piles. cam used the wheelbarrow to transport sod to the backyard. cam's dad and i then laid the sod on the ground. after a while, cam's dad had to stop, so i worked alone. cam's parents eventually took paul away with them to their house because he was less than happy with everyone for being more interested in the grass than in him. cam's dad came back, eventually, but we were mostly done putting down the sod by then. he used the rented roller to flatten the sod while we fit in the last pieces like a puzzle.

when cam went to get the roller, i put down the sod by myself. my mother watched and helped a bit by wetting down the ground before i placed the sod. my uncle was impressed.

him: i would have never thought any of my nieces would do anything like this.
my mom: nope, only grace.
me: [thinking] that's just because the rest of them are still living the early-twentysomething life.

we worked all day. after cam's dad went home, we cleaned ourselves up. by the time i got out of the shower, cam was asleep.

today my hands are stiff and my legs are sore. i fear what the rest of the week will bring in terms of pain. i know it'll be bad, but when i look at the backyard, i get the feeling that it might almost be worth it.

November 22, 2006

green grass

i'm excited -- sort of. cam was able to order the sod for delivery this saturday. how are we going to do this? we've never done this kind of work before. are we going to make fools of ourselves?

September 13, 2006

wooden

the idea of a faux bois slipcover for my sofa entirely charms me. anyone know where i can get one to fit an ektorp three-seater?

September 9, 2006

late night redecorating

i think i need a bubble club sofa. it would be good to have a sofa one could just hose off from time to time.

September 5, 2006

unfinished

little sad that i didn't get my plate rail up this weekend. that was one project i really wanted to finish. i did get it painted, though, so at least that part is done. there are a gazillion other things going on, so i just shrug and move on to the next task. i need help, but i need to wait for some of cam's time to free up.

i've learned that cam doesn't need to hear everything i'm thinking when it comes to house projects. i've learned that not all projects interest cam equally. this is not a big deal, but it does smart a little that it has taken me so long time to learn this. he is more interested in his own projects than mine -- unless my idea is just so interesting that he has to work on it then and there. duh. shouldn't this be obvious?

i feel almost relieved to have figured this out. too much time wasted on hurt feelings. but of course he should care because i do! such naivete should be exclusive to newlyweds. it's not that he doesn't care, it's just that he doesn't share my visions. totally fair.

September 4, 2006

curtains

tore down the window treatments in the living room (somewhat with paul's assistance). so i work fast -- i've only been talking about this for a little while. cam accused me of nesting.

it's amazing what removing drapes will do to a room. already the room seems larger and kind of echoey. i dig it, but i can't leave them uncovered for long because 1) we have neighbors, and 2) there's a glare on the tv screen (most important to fix). i've got my eye on woven wood blinds, but they're kind of pricey.

September 1, 2006

poster

recently i decided that the finn shrine in my living room was looking a little old, so i made plans to replace at least one of the framed pictures. (woohoo for variety.)

there was a red crowded house ad (bought off ebay) that was a little too small for its frame, so i chose that to be the sacrificial lamb. even though i am NOT crazy about the newish finn tribute album, i figured a scan of the cover art might be a nice addition to the wall. at the last minute, i put up a crowded house "farewell to the world" poster instead, a freebie that came with an album purchase. paul helped me put it up.

me: does that look okay?
paul: i guess so.

this, too, is a little too small for the frame (but too big for the mat, so i left it out), but it actually doesn't look so bad. i just need to trim it out somehow -- maybe some red paper?

moments after it went up, paul changed his mind about it.

paul: mommy?
me: yes?
paul: take it down.
me: why? i thought you liked it.
paul: the dog is looking at me.
paul: it is kind of ug-uly.
me: yeah, it is.
me: but let's leave it up tonight and ask daddy about it in the morning.
paul: okay.

cam likes it, so it's still up. every other day or so paul reminds me that it's ugly, but i think it's growing on both of us.

August 29, 2006

stiff and sore

life was not pleasant in the ponce-de-leon house last night. too much dissent and pain. even paul picked up on it -- he slept really poorly. since i stayed in his room last night, i slept worse.

August 28, 2006

decorative plates

this weekend i built (using that word loosely) a plate rail for the kitchen. it's going to be mounted above the window and will hold my newest obsession: melamine plates. i've got a tiny collection of them (two from decoylab, one french bull and one jonathan adler) and i one day hope to have a few more so that i can rotate them.

using wood originally intended for a wall-mount bookcase for paul's room -- mind you, it's not like i just up and decided to steal this from him; the project was scrapped years ago -- i designed a simple ledge on friday night. on saturday morning, cam cut the moulding and i glued it in place. it now awaits a coating of white paint. it looks really good for something just cobbled together on a whim.

August 20, 2006

shady

we replaced two plain white lampshades in the living room with pretty printed ones... and now the drapes look shabby. alas. i hate how that happens.

August 10, 2006

drying

update on the paper towel holder in the bathroom:

it's up and it actually is quite nice. cam is pleased. (and he should be -- he even shortened a towel rack to make it fit.) i've since seen a prettier one (a shelf that dispenses paper towels from the bottom, but unlike the other one we saw before, it's mdf instead of pvc), but i like the stark obviousness of the one we have. besides, it looks a little odd to have paper protruding from the bottom of a pretty shelf. i do think i need to jazz it up a little, though. maybe stickers?

this morning i had an off moment of reaching for a cloth towel that just wasn't there. i was looking straight at the paper towel dispenser and it simply wasn't registering. i can't even imagine how long it would have taken me to figure that one out if we had bought a shelf unit instead.

August 7, 2006

"i think we're really active in our home," he says

yesterday cam told me that he thought most people just lived in their houses and didn't necessarily do much to them. thinking back on my parents' home, i could totally see that. we bought furniture, we put stuff away, we tidied and cleaned, but we didn't paint, we didn't remodel, we didn't reinvent. family members call in decorators. coworkers hire painters.

i talk to people at work who take vacations, have lots of friends-and-family activities, go to amusement parks/museums/etc., take classes. such people make me feel lazy, but when i remember how one weekend i painted my bedroom on a whim, i can see that it's just a matter of priorities. for most of the people i know, turning a house into a home only involves moving in and unpacking. for me, it's a labor of love and ingenuity and style. this is what i do.

August 5, 2006

treehugging

there's something very intriguing about solar power. cam and i have been discussing a newfound desire for eco-friendliness. we've never been avid recyclers or anything like that, but we've become rather curious about renewable sources of energy. i guess that means that green-ness just got geeky.

July 26, 2006

overwrought

i'm already cringing over my title. i hate puns, but i can't help myself sometimes. the same goes for cliches. hate 'em, but man, they just keep coming out of my mouth.

but anyway.

i have spent the last few weeks re-envisioning the backyard. (i've had time to think because we haven't been able to work back there much because of cam's old war injury.) instead of putting potted plants all over the backyard, i've decided to confine my container garden efforts to the front of the house. paul is less likely to run around the front, so i think my plants would be much safer there.

the place out front is a decent-sized square right above the garage with a railing around it. i was having a devil of a time deciding what to do with it until i realized that instead of looking at it as a small yard, i should think of it as a big balcony! excellent. i bought two wrought iron chairs and a table from target (i don't think the site showed the brand name, but in case you're curious, google "pangaea home & garden." nice stuff), which were, amazingly enough, delivered within three days. the cushions are not safe for outdoor use, so i'll have to figure out what to do next -- buy cheap ones or re-cover the existing cushions. until i find a fabric i like, i think i'll just have to take advantage of the end-of-summer clearance sales for a stopgap measure.

the chairs and table look really cute out there, but i haven't yet had much chance to enjoy them because, well, it's been freaking hot. (do i want to sit in the sun? no. do i want to be branded by my chairs? no.) it should not get to over a hundred degrees right by the harbor. unfair. since when have "ocean breezes" only been a myth?

my next goal is to locate a solar fountain. i want one with the panel inside the bowl, not the kind with a solar panel at the end of a 15' cord. i'd like to keep the tripping potential as low as possible because THIS IS ON A ROOF. the railing is only about waist-high, if that.

i've been agonizing about my choices for what seems like ever now, but it's only been maybe two weeks. my impatience has been astonishing me lately. i told cam that i think it's because i feared losing my diy-momentum while he was semi-laid-up, but i think i'm just going hogwild because i liked my raise.

July 23, 2006

we're all digging, too

my backyard and i made a new friend this weekend -- the garden hound.

the rain softened the soil in many places, so the hound and i were able to make reasonably quick work of a large section of the yard. i'm not exactly the right height for this tiller, but in spite of that fact i think we were a pretty good team. i slipped in the mud a few times, but that was hardly the hound's fault.

cam borrowed his dad's concrete breaker (a huge metal rod) and was planning on, well, breaking some concrete, but the lightning storm earlier in the day sunday gave him some qualms. he ended up trying it out, but stopped after we saw that we'd all need eye protection, at the very least, from the flying chips of stone and cement.

it was nice to see some progress in the backyard again.

July 14, 2006

something to do

months ago we bought a cheap shoe rack from ikea with the intention of painting it silver and pressing it into service in paul's kitchen as an oven rack. time passed... and passed... and passed and i realized that the chances of such a thing happening were pretty much nil. not that it was a bad idea or anything, it was just that the moment had come and gone.

last week i had a revelatory moment one day while removing my dirty shoes in the backyard. why not (get this) use it as a shoe rack? genius, i tell you. so i put it together and set it outside the back door for wet and dirty shoes. i stood there in the burning july heat and admired my creativity.

it didn't take long to realize that as nice and useful that the cheap shoe rack was, it was also blindingly pale, especially when contrasted against our dark reddish deck and dark reddish furniture. i could see it from every point in the backyard.

so i threw it away.

no, i painted it. i used the tinted waterproofing sealant that i used on the swing and the picnic table -- which, on the pine, turned a ruddy orange. now it's conspicuous in a new way, but i think it does a lovely job of pretending to be a more expensive wood. not a bad investment timewise, i must say.

July 10, 2006

transformed

because it's so hot outside -- and because our air conditioner has finally been fixed (yay!) -- i didn't do any outdoor work this past weekend. instead, i started tossing paul's toys into the closet. i have no idea what prompted this impulse declutter, but it was something i had been meaning to do for a long time... and putting it off because i didn't think i should do this until i had containers worthy for under-the-house storage. my method this time around may backfire because all of this closet-tossing could quite possibly one day result in a kratt brothers-style closet catastrophe, but i'd like to think that i'd get a handle on it before that could happen.

once paul's room looked a bit less like toys'r'us, it dawned on me what i could do with the extra space: finally turn this baby playroom ("changing room," says paul) into a big-boy bedroom. brilliant!

it was time for the kangaroo climber to go outside -- that thing takes up some serious room. i put the foam mats outside on the deck and set the climber on top of it (had to bring it out in pieces because it wouldn't fit through the door). cam and i set up a screened tent-thing from target to keep the climber out of direct sunlight. (note: writing on the box claimed that this tent could be set up in less than three minutes. i'm sure that's true if you have a crew of at least four people at your disposal. the two of us? slightly less efficient than that.) paul and i then proceed to spend at least an hour or two playing in our new tent: he wanted to order food from a restaurant ("french fries and diet coke"). he wanted to be a bird ("me flapping away home"). he wanted to race fire trucks down the slide. he wanted to eat a lizard. he wanted to be a jellyfish.

later that day, we went to ikea to buy a mattress. paul started begging to see his grandfather, so cam and i dropped him off on our way home.

once i was back in paul's room, i put the bottom bunk together (remember, the top bunk is in my bedroom -- that's where i sleep because my son won't let me have my bed back) and rearranged some furniture to make the room look a little more grown up. i saw that he needed a little nightstand, so we'll need to pick one up the during our next ikea run, which will probably be sometime in the coming week because cam has something he needs to buy. paul needs a spot o set down an alarm clock because he loves to fiddle with a spare one we have. the boy has figured out how to make the alarm go off whenever he wants -- so you'd think i'd want to hide the clock from him, but who am i to stifle his pre-tech urges?

this morning we brought him to the room when he woke up. (he was asleep when cam brought him home the night before.) cam had said that paul would be thrilled, but my son doesn't like change. he took one look at the bed and shook his head silently. he started to cry when cam told him we needed to go back to work, but fell back asleep in my arms within minutes. i handed him to my mother, who set him on the bed. when we left, he was tucked rather nicely into his new digs, my mother sitting by the bedside. we'll find out tonight what he really thinks of his new room.

July 7, 2006

paint, paint and more paint

i painted the old concrete pond white and suffered a minor sunburn for my pains -- but it looks great, it's nicer to sit on and it has a stucco-y thing going on. paul approved of the change.

paul: mommy and daddy are pretty clever.

June 29, 2006

city of industry

last night i worked on our picnic table/benches -- my mom cleaned them for me the other day, so i finished them off with the same waterproof sealant i put on the patio swing. they look nice. since the wood types are different, they don't exactly match, but they look refreshed and ready for use.

i am really enjoying this work. i'm not very good at it, and i'm not very careful, but i am ready and willing to throw my back into it and do what i can. enthusiasm has got to count for something, right?

June 27, 2006

taste of things to come

last night paul and i ran around in a tiny section of the backyard and kicked/shoved/threw a ball back and forth. it was a lot of fun, but i can't wait until the rest of the backyard is done. a little more free space would have been nice.

June 25, 2006

a hard (sun)day's work

i am an aching, aching wreck. on the day that i needed to finish up my dusting/stacking job with the bricks, why did i get the bright idea to scrub the kitchen floor? now my back and my knees hurt. advil, take me away.

on the sunny side of the street, though, the bricks are all done -- all 1200+ of them -- and my kitchen floor is so pretty and shiny i can hardly bear to walk on it.

June 24, 2006

weekend warriors

today i more-or-less finished staining/sealing the patio swing. i just have to attend to the canopy now.

paul: what's that funny brown paint, mommy?
me: waterproof sealant.
paul: what's that funny brown paint, mommy?
me: waterproof sealant.
paul: what's that funny brown paint, mommy?
me: brown paint.
paul. no, please. waterproof sealant.

i also cleaned/stacked a few hundred bricks. i have a few hundred left. (tomorrow i also hope to prime the fountain so i can paint it next weekend.) cam has been working on a weedy patch of land and filling extra-strong trashbags with branches and weeds. my mother took a pickaxe to some shrub roots. paul stacked washers on a long screw and declared his finished product to be a blimp.

June 17, 2006

bricks

cam and i are broken.

we worked really hard today -- phase one of our tear-up/tear-out/tear-in of our backyard. paul hung out with his grandparents because we knew there would be no way to keep him from either running out of view or hurting himself with the various tools we had strewn about the place.

several hours later, our backyard is in ruins, cam has a headache and i have an amusing sunburn (i swear, i had no idea my tank top had ridden up in back). we're both sore as hell. it will be interesting to see if we can even get out of bed tomorrow.

June 15, 2006

faux this and that

i am trying to figure out how to paint things to look like other things. hm. i am not very creative.

June 11, 2006

browned

i didn't go to sleep when cam and paul left for the movies.

instead i picked up toys, watched "the thorn birds" (couldn't tear myself away), started some laundry. when i had exhausted the interior possibilities of my home, i changed out of my nightclothes into capris and a t-shirt. i was just about to head outside when it dawned on me that a farmer tan was not supposed to be in my future -- so i went back to the bedroom and put on a tank top.

once outside, i took the canopy off the swing and set it aside. i scrubbed the swing and the swing canopy with a mild soapy solution and a soft sponge. i moved furniture and trash.

later in the day, i went back outside to clean the backyard a bit more with my mother's help. (poor exhausted cam was taking a nap.) paul amused himself by holding up various objects -- a sponge, a plastic pitcher, a twig, a galvanized tin up -- and announcing he was going to chase me with it. "mommy, run! chase mommy with [insert object here]!" he also pretended that i was a car that required frequent gas refills.

after cam woke up, he also helped us clean. paul brandished a wrench. "yeah!" cam was sheepish. "he's so cute i can't bring myself to take it away from him."

when we deemed ourselves done for the day, i looked into the mirror -- and was horrified to note that my nose and shoulders were bright red. my hearty tropical stock wouldn't let me stay red for long, though, so today i am a better shade of brown. i usually wear spf 55 on at least my face, but -- oops -- i forgot to apply any that morning. oh well. maybe i would have been better off wearing that t-shirt.

June 7, 2006

waterbabies

paul is a big fan of water. he likes to drink it, splash around in it, fling it, dance in it.

last weekend we got the idea to inflate and fill a tiny $5 pool we had purchased from the grocery a year or so back. the only reason why we bought it in the first place was because we needed something to contain the balls from the playskool busy ball popper*. let's face it, who wants to be chasing those damn balls all over the room? with the popper squarely in the middle of the semi-inflated pool, we were set.

so we finally used the pool for its intended purpose and it was a big hit. cam sat in it with paul, i sat in it with paul (no way all three of us would fit) -- we had a grand old time. in the pool we splashed and shrieked... but the person on the outside had the fun of both the hose and the camera. ha! i hid behind my hair and massive sunglasses as much as possible. we could have continued quite happily with just the small pool, but the idea of the three of us in the pool was such a tempting idea... so out we went to buy a bigger pool.

we struck out at big lots and lowes, but we live in suburbia. stores abound. we found something satisfactory at target -- and better yet, we also found a canopy thing we could put over the pool so we could avoid sunburn. unfortunately, i should have known the good luck wouldn't last. the pump burned out when cam was trying to fill up the big pool. (plus he broke the canopy.) i filled up the little pool again and just let paul play. he was happy, so i was happy. cam, on the other hand, needed a drink and a smoke.

we'll have to try again soon. cam will find a new pump, i'll find a better canopy, paul will finally submit to sunscreen. and all three of us will be in the pool.

*my god, paul was so freakingly afraid of this toy for a long time. we would start it and you could feel him start to quiver. when the balls would pop, he'd scream. then he decided he loved it and all was good in his tiny world once more.

June 6, 2006

restoration

on sunday i got the idea that a porch swing-type thing needed to be moved from one spot in the backyard to another spot about 6-7 feet away. i mentioned it to cam and he agreed that we would move it when he and paul returned from the car wash.

of course, while i won't touch cabling or any electronic stuff (why should i when i have a built-in IT guy?), when there is furniture to be assembled, disassembled, moved, whatever, i'm your girl. brute strength, that's me. you should talk to cam about the incident of the big blue thing.

i moved it on my own, then did some other random cleaning about the backyard. cam came home and was all wtf? what can i say? i hate waiting.

i have since scrubbed a great deal of the swing, enough to make it sitable. i probably shouldn't have scrubbed so hard, though, because the wood looks a little stressed. i'll need to do a gentler job when i finish it up. then i plan to coat it somehow, maybe a light stain, and make a new canopy for it. i expect to spend a lot of time outside this summer, so it would be nice to have a pretty place to sit.

June 5, 2006

task-oriented

the idea of a new project always sets me aflutter. it's terrible. i rarely finish anything -- sometimes i don't even get started -- before a new idea takes over my attention. i probably have at least 142 projects going on at any given time, all in varying stages of development. yeah, i suck. i have the attention span of a flea.

right now i'm obsessing over the backyard. i wasn't even thinking about the backyard until this past weekend because it was so hot and we ended up playing in a tiny inflatable pool. it became clear to me that paul needed an outdoor place to play and i was tired of feeling guilty that he had to go to cam's parents' house in order to do so in a private environment. we don't really want to spend a lot of money on this because we eventually want to rehaul the backyard in a big way... one of these years... or move...

cam and i have discussed possible plans and i think we are pretty much set. i won't detail them here because there will be much derision over what we consider cost-efficient and diy, but maybe, just maybe, when we're done i'll take pictures.

May 27, 2006

transient

i've been slowly cleaning/unpacking/rearranging the kitchen. i'm tired of living like we just moved in.

May 21, 2006

dinette

we have a dining room (makeshift as it may be)! i cleaned out the nook -- as much as possible, anyway -- and moved in the table and benches* which had been "temporarily" living in the back room. funny how temporary often becomes semi-permanent here much in the same way that a diy remodel is considered done when the room is functional.

this morning paul and i had breakfast in our little dining room, and the three of us ate dinner in there just a hour or two ago. it's really obvious that we have so much left to do in there and in the kitchen, but it was so nice and homey to not have to eat on the couch in front of the tv. the coffee table is probably relieved.

*painful as it is to admit, i must disclose that i have not yet even started the second bench cushion. i made the first one, what, a year ago?

spooky

old houses just make too much damned noise.

November 18, 2005

the unbearable lightness of leather

on a much lighter note, yay for the new leather sofa. it was delivered this morning and it's beautiful.

November 15, 2005

shelving

the new shelves in the book nook are gorgeous! i am beyond pleased how well they turned out. that man of mine? is a doll.

November 12, 2005

woodworking

i am covered with paint. cam is covered in sawdust. we have been very handy today.

paul spent the day with his auntie while we worked. i primed, assembled and painted a bathroom footstool for paul. (i also started the laundry and painted a floor vent for the kitchen.) cam is constructing shelves for the book nook.

being a homeowner kind of sucks -- we sure didn't go to this kind of effort when we lived in an apartment -- but i tend to think we like to make things hard on ourselves.

November 7, 2005

expensive decision

cam and i went to macys on saturday, signed up for a macys card (i had one, but since i hadn't used it since, say 1998, they deactivated it) and bought ourselves a sofa. the whole process probably took about 20 minutes. (the place was empty.) the saleslady had a terribly distracting cutout on her sweater that made me cringe and think poorly of her, even though she was perfectly nice.

we ended up buying the sofa version of the loveseat that we had been debating. oddly enough, the sofa was only $100 more than the loveseat, and since we got an extra $100 off for opening a store account it worked out nicely. the saleslady said this particular sofa was their biggest seller. unsurprising, considering it's the first sofa you see when you get off the damned escalator. it's a natuzzi. i've read terrible things about natuzzi's quality, but we really liked this sofa and we aren't expecting heirloom for the price. (sure, it's the most expensive single piece of furniture we own, but come on. our house is almost entirely furnished by ikea.)

it'll be delivered around the end of the month, plenty of time for us to clean up the book nook and prepare a new home for this massive piece of furniture. i am not looking forward to the first time the boy writes on it.

November 3, 2005

seating arrangements

we have my mother's comfy green leather loveseat and matching chair in our book nook. they came from the living room of our old house. the matching sofa and ottoman are now in her current living room. (her current living room is just too small to house the rest of the set.)

but... as comfy as they are, they just aren't my style. i hate being so picky -- and so childish -- but it's my special room (i claim it, it's mine!) and i would like to furnish it with items of my choosing. cam would have just tossed the stuff out, but it's my mom's, dammit, and i simply couldn't be that cruel to her furniture. however, i did tell her that i wanted my own stuff and she was fine with that.

the time has come for the green leather to depart. my aunt is leaving the house she shares with her daughter and grandson and is moving to a brand new house on the opposite coast. she is taking some of her furniture with her, leaving her daughter with empty spots. the green leather will fill those spots.

you'd think i'd be ecstatic, but i'm not -- and that is because i have no earthly idea what is going to go into that spot. it was easy to dream about it and make plans, but now that the time is almost here, i have become profoundly wishy-washy.

a few months back, i got the idea to use a daybed. we tracked one down and even got a quote on delivery from the place we bought our four-poster bed. all was set, even if i was having a hard time finding beddings/covers for it. then one day at costco i was stopped in my tracks by a dark brown leather couch that cost considerably more than what we wanted to spend (under $500). from that moment on, it was all about the leather couch. i didn't necessarily want that particular model, but i did want a leather couch that could get scuffed and beat-up and still be presentable. our ikea couches with slipcovers? grungy.

a couple of weeks after that fateful day at costco, we were wandering around crate & barrel in costa mesa when cam and i fell in love with a loveseat. we knew we couldn't afford it, so we sort of half-assedly kept looking. not really looking hard, mind you, because we didn't know yet that the green leather's days were numbered. once we got the news, though, we tried to look a little harder. we went to larry st. john in gardena, we repeatedly walked around ikea, i looked up catalogs and web sites. then we found two at macys that were reasonable. the saleslady gave us advance notice of a sale in about a week, so we thanked her and went home to discuss these two sofas.

one was a loveseat similar in shape (sort of) to the c&b loveseat, but chunkier. the other was an actual sofa -- only about 10-11" longer than the loveseat -- in a much more modern shape. both seemed comfortable and the sofa was actually about a hundred dollars or so cheaper than the loveseat.

all week i fretted about these two. i preferred the shape of one, the size of the other. each would run us a little over a $1K. this would be the most expensive furniture we own (aside from the entertainment unit). i know $1K is not really all that much in the way of furniture, but for us ikeans, it's crazy.

last night we returned to macys and we took turns looking at the sofas while paul ran around like his pants were on fire. end result? we went home, empty-handed. iffy. i couldn't make up my mind, so cam said we should go home and check out how each would fit in the room.

later that night, i was looking through a catalog and found this one that i really liked. cam chose this one. when i had a few minutes at work, i looked at them online and realized they were very similar in shape to the c&b sofa we had loved so much. now these weren't much cheaper, but at least the exercise confirmed that there was something pretty specific we were searching for in terms of look.

back in the daybed-looking days, i came across these bench/chaise/studio sofa things and really liked them, but cam didn't. well, today on a whim i checked out a certain discount site and found this. the price is good, the shape is nice, the shipping cost is hysterical. cam actually seems to like this, so you never know, we might just buy this thing and toss all this searching out the window.

October 29, 2005

glass doors

our trip to ikea on friday was very productive (and expensive -- our total discount was about $65, so that should tell you roughly what we spent). we bought six square picture frames to hang on our bedroom wall, a cheese knife set, a grill pan, extra shelves for our book nook project*, a deep-drawer organizer for the kitchen and six glass doors to fit our three 31.5" billy bookcases. (we have two other same-height bookcases -- a 23 5/8" and a corner unit -- no doors are available to fit those.)

when we got home, i immediately started in on those doors. mishaps galore, but i eventually got up a set. then i worked late into the night on the next set because the shelves needed to be moved around in order to accomodate the hinges. grrr. since i didn't finish my contact paper project from a few months back due to furniture placement, installation of the doors allowed me to finish half of a bookcase because i had to move a sofa out of the way. now i only have one bookcase left to contact-paperize. cam and i (but mostly cam) finished up the doors for the last bookcase the next day. i've learned that while standard-sized paperbacks fit nicely doubled up on a shelf, a standard-sized paperback fits even better with a slightly larger one behind it. i'm so easily pleased.

the room looks really snazzy, plus now i have a way to keep paul out of the bookcases. yay!

*the book nook project is a pretty simple one, i think. we have a gap between two bookcases -- about 16" -- because of a heating vent. it's fine, but after living with it a few years, i think it would look better if we filled the gap. so that's what we're doing: cutting extra shelves to fit and attaching them to the wall and the surrounding bookcases. i have highish hopes.

October 28, 2005

scandinavian slut

i am so ikea's whore. that's why i'm so excited about the 20th anniversary sale. 15% of all home furnishings (limited to those in stock, exceptions apply, of course) for this weekend only. eeee! cam and i are putting together a list of things to buy and we're going tonight. i've got my eye on some glass doors for our billy bookcases, a bed for paul, some stuff for the kitchen, maybe a couch... somebody take my credit card away!

October 20, 2005

redecorating

i am a serial redecorator. i can't help it. i'm never completely satisfied.

i can live with my vision being, say, 75% complete. having a fulltime job and a child sort of makes that a necessity. unfortunately, leaving things 25% undone means that by the time i get around to finishing up my tastes/ideas may have changed. ooh! new ikea catalog? sweet. a new pottery barn one? even better. restoration hardware? i may cry.

sweet, sweet cam. what an excellent enabler he is. he never says no. i usually shoot down my own ideas before they get too far, so maybe that helps.

October 18, 2005

catastrophes

things always happen when cam is not around. on sunday he went to return the prius and all sorts of minor hell broke loose.

i was working in the kitchen. reorganizing. cleaning. paul was sitting in his little thinking chair (elmo fold-out foam couch). we were listening to "songs for dustmites." i needed some household wipes to clean up the counter, so i opened the undersink cabinet -- and gasped! we have this marvelous little gadget, the never-mt, that allows us to just put a big bottle of dishsoap under the sink and not have to worry about refilling those tiny little bottles that usually come with the soap dispenser. well... i don't know if we just didn't connect it very well or if we have a junky dispenser, but there was a big puddle of mostly-dry bluish dishsoap right on the floor of the cab. crap.

paul suddenly wanted cereal. i closed the cabinet, got him some puffins. he sat back down.

i opened the cabinet and peeked in again to see if the puddle had magically disappeared. no such luck. i got the paper towel holder off the counter and set it on the floor. only a few sheets left. eh, no problem, we have more rolls.

paul suddenly wanted puffed rice. i got up, tossed out the puffins (he apparently had picked them up with his wet-from-his-mouth hands, then decided he didn't want them) and filled his little cup with puffed rice. he settled down again.

i grabbed a plastic bag and some plastic utensils to try to scrape up the soap. noticed a large amount of sawdust down there, too. sat on the floor and set the contents of the cabinet next to me. paul stood up to investigate. i started to clean up the soap. luckily it was quite dry, so it was more goopy than gooey. we haven't had a bottle of blue dishsoap in almost a year, so it makes sense it was almost dried up.

there was a skittering sound behind me. like rice. i turned around to discover paul had dropped a handful of puffed rice on the floor. he was just about to move one from the floor into his mouth when i stopped him. "paul, sweetie, just leave them. i'll get them later." he seemed to agree and walked around in a circle. i went back to my cleaning.

after i scraped up the last of the soap, i opened the container of household wipes. pulled out one, wiped up some soap residue and sawdust. pulled out another. pulled out the sodden last one. i yanked the top off the container and wrung out the wipe. put the top back on the container. a sound to my left. paul, sitting on the floor next to me. cup of puffed rice at his feet. the last of the paper towels bunched up on the floor. slightly guilty smile on his face. then he knocked over the wipes container and it started to leak. i rescued it, grabbed some of the paper towels and wiped it up. deposited everything in the trash. paul tried to climb into the sink cabinet, but i held him off by climbing into it myself. he lost interest and left, so i opened another container of wipes and finished wiping out the cabinet.

paul danced by himself in front of the radio. i nearly kicked over his rice cup, which reminded me to go pick up some of the rice off the floor. nearly got my foot caught under the trash can pedal.

i pulled up the soap dispenser to see where the faulty connection might be. pop. the dispenser top was in my hand. the connecting hose was lying on the bottom of the sink cabinet, dishsoap starting to leak onto the newly cleaned surface. soapy hands. paul starting to pick up rice from the floor again. me hollering no! then climbing back into the cabinet to try to shove the hose back through the sink hole. sounds of paul stepping on rice. glimpses of paul trying to get into other cabinets.

enough. i ran for the phone and called my mom. "could you come over?"

she was there in minutes. we got the dispenser hooked up again. she put a new roll of paper towels on the holder, then took paul to another room while i finished cleaning up.

then cam came home and we smiled like nothing had happened. my poor blood pressure.

October 7, 2005

gentrification

there are so many home projects swirling around in my head. far too many. i want to cover the dishwasher with this cool stuff. (wouldn't mind covering the fridge with it, either.) i want to finally organize the kitchen drawers. i want to figure out a backsplash. i want to put up the light above the sink. i want to finally put up the vent above the stove. i want to clean the computer room. i want to reglaze the bathtub. i want to change the bathroom floor. i want to somehow come up with enough free cash to buy these. i want to find something that will fill the space above the mirror in the living room.

i want a maid. i want a handyman. i want an interior designer. i want to not be such a lousy do-it-yourselfer.

August 23, 2005

weekend accomplishments

very productive weekend.

• washed the book nook curtains (paul has a tendency to wipe his blueberry-stained hands on them)
• spray-painted black the decorative finials of the big book nook curtain rod (to match the chandelier better – was originally a greenish brass in color)
• did seven loads of laundry
• transferred more paint to jars (bought another 12 canning jars)
• finished the first bench cushion (yeah, i know i started it a month ago)
• finished blink by malcolm gladwell (borrowed from my assistant)

i was pleased.

August 10, 2005

being a homeowner

when cam and i were househunting, we had a chart of all the things we wanted and didn’t want in a house. like any good first-time homebuyers, we believed that we could find a house that fit our requirements perfectly. obviously we were stupid.

we drove around by ourselves for what seemed like years. cam was thoroughly sick of it. we actually only saw the inside of a few houses, but our realtor is a friend and former neighbor of my mom’s, so they did almost all of the legwork for us. the house we ended up buying was one that they really liked. we really liked it, too – don’t get me wrong – and now we like it even more since we’ve redecorated and put our own stuff in. still, i have to ask, “how on earth did we end up with a house with not one, not two, but four items on our no-way-in-hell list and missing five items from our must-haves?”

oh well.

adventures in decorating have been, well, adventures. i’ve learned more about my own style – and lack thereof – in the past two years than i have in the rest of my life combined. i’ve accepted that appropriate isn’t necessarily a dirty word, and i’d probably lose in a fight with the architecture of the rooms. i’ve accepted that what i had planned all my adult life for house décor had to be scrapped based on the house we own. i understand that the quirky gimmicky-ness of the house sort of limits what can be done with it, and that perhaps we could be more inventive if we lived in a regular california ranch and not in a late 20’s Spanish-style house with a freaking 40’ flagpole/mast in front of it. i’ve admitted that maybe i am rather traditional in my tastes. i’ve come to terms with the fact that i simply can’t afford to outfit my house entirely in pottery barn, crate and barrel and restoration hardware – and even if i could, i probably shouldn’t!

our new kitchen doesn’t fit the style of the house at all, but i don’t care. we didn’t do any of this with resale in mind. (when we move, if it sounds like new owners might hate our kitchen, well, we could always buy new ikea doors and just swap ‘em out.)

i’ve painted, repainted, assembled, cleaned, sewn, worked and reworked things to make them fit. i’ve shopped, god, i’ve shopped. i’ve read a ton of magazines and websites and books. i’ve looked at everything with the uncritical eye of the overly self-proud brand-new diyer and still have found things wanting. like with my cooking, the more stuff the better!

i like to think that my house interior is attractive, that we’ve been able to make it a good homey home. (of course, ultimately it’s the people in the house that make it a home, blah blah blah sentimental tripecakes.) if we haven’t, well... there will always be decorating magazines to tell me what to do to improve it.

August 2, 2005

hurray for vacations spent at home

back at work. ugh.

i didn’t accomplish all of my goals for the long weekend, but i still feel pretty good about everything i managed to get done.

painting the bedroom took so long. i guess i was overly optimistic, thinking i could get it done in a day. it took three. dammit. but it only took three because we had other things going on. if i had a whole day and a half, i’m sure it would have been done quicker. the first day, i had to clear and clean the room and create a big plastic tent for the bed (we have a four poster black bed, so obviously we had to protect that from the potential paint spray from the rollers). i then started the fun job of cutting in (i was experimenting with not taping), but switched partway to a roller. yes, i know cutting in is supposed to be done first, but i was waffling about the one coat vs. two coats issue and i was really curious to see if i would need two. (turns out i didn’t need two. yay! sticklers may shake their heads, but i think the coverage with one was sufficient.) and, to be completely honest, i was also feeling rather discouraged that i had been working for hours already and had very little to show for it. my mom came by while i was painting and scared the crap out of me. i’m glad i didn’t drop the roller. (some backstory: when i was picking the color for the room, i showed two different paint chips to my mom: behr’s harvest brown and gobi desert. same color, but one was a shade lighter. she picked the lighter one. i ended up going with the darker one. she was skeptical.) our conversation went something like this:

me: what do you think?
my mom: it’s definitely darker!
me: ...
my mom: it’s much darker than what you had in here before!
me: yeah... [thinking] um, ma, it was white in here before
my mom: so... let’s talk about me.

it was pretty hilarious. she didn’t stay long. i finished up the walls with the roller and that was the end of day one. we slept on an inflatable mattress on the floor in the living room that night. paul hated it. he woke up screaming ‘round two am, jabbing his little finger viciously in the direction of the bedroom. “take me there, wench!”

the next day we went to a birthday party – that’s another story all on its own – and when we came home, i finished the cutting in on the walls. think that’s when cam painted the ceiling for me.

day three cam sanded the ceiling near the crown moulding because the caulk he used wasn’t paintable. i followed with my trusty brush and the room was done. yippee! my mom actually liked it by then. she thinks the white crown looks really good against the dark walls, and i agree.

day four i moved the rest of the furniture in and cleaned the bathroom (never would have guessed that “bartender’s friend” or whatever it’s called would be good at cleaning our tub). please note that i also managed to get about ten loads of laundry done, did all the dishes and read about five or six mystery novels.

it was a good weekend.

July 27, 2005

the pied piper picks a peck of pickled piping

before i started working on my cushions, i took a quick look at my martha stewart decorating book because i knew she had some instructions for making piped seat cushions. my first thought upon reading them: oh my god, she makes her own piping. freak.

two and a half packages of piping later, i realize that she was smart. duh. at least when you make your own, you don’t have to worry that you’ll run out. i’ve cleaned out two local joann’s only to come up with five packages of the stuff. (so if you live in the south bay and you need yale blue piping, looks like you’re s.o.l. sorry.)

on one lousy cushion, i have burned through two and half packs of piping. if i were smarter, i would have known this would happen, but i don’t plan well things that require mathematical calculation.

piping offends my spirit, so it sucks that i like how it looks. piping. it just sounds so preppy yet shrill. plus the company has, to me anyway, what sounds like an incredibly lame offer. send in $4 and three labels and get a large stash of clippings and remnants for doll’s clothes and small projects. clippings. remnants. even my mom scoffed. maybe if i had a daughter or i enjoyed small projects this would be interesting – but i don’t and i don’t, so right now it just sounds awfully ridiculous.

just watch, my second child is going to be a girl and then i’ll have to write about the amazing generosity of this company for offering me scraps for mere box-tops and a nominal fee. feh.

vacation time

i am taking a vacation! okay, maybe not a vacation-vacation, but i am taking a few days off. two to be exact, a friday and a monday for a four-day weekend. bliss! of course this doesn’t mean that i’ll be relaxing in front of the tv or even playing outside with my perfect little boy. nope. i am going to drown myself in projects. so typical.

by monday night, i plan to have

painted the bedroom
finished at least one cushion
finished the table
cleaned the bathroom

if i don’t get any of this done, well, blame my ever-so-tempting bed.

July 26, 2005

wannabe martha stewart

i know i mentioned this about a month ago, but since i’m still working on it i think i need to flesh it out a bit. i had something in mind for my dining room furniture for a long, long time. i don’t exactly have a dining room – we used the would-be dining room as a library instead – but a tiny tiled nook right off the kitchen. because it’s kind of narrow, i didn’t want chairs, i wanted benches. i wanted a nice solid trestle table and matching benches, painted white. seemed like a simple enough thing. but apparently i’m an idiot because i never found anything that even remotely fit my ideal. couldn’t even find a damn thing worth compromising for. i found myself contemplating patio furniture, but couldn’t find anything there, either. my mom volunteered to pay for custom furniture, but i’d be damned before i’d let her do that. she already has paid for so much.

irritated, i just shelved the thought of any furniture at all while we worked on the kitchen – until we saw an unfinished table and benches at ikea. (god, i love that place.) it wasn’t a trestle table and the benches were kind of small, but hey, we’re small people and the price was good and goddammit, if we don’t buy this now i just know we’ll end up buying it later. so we bought them and they lived in the library for a long time, unassembled and growing dusty. every once in a while, we’d discuss what we’d do with them. as our kitchen came together (blue cabs, green walls, gray/black checkerboard floor – yes, we’re colorblind, why do you ask?) it occurred to me that white furniture would looks kind of odd in there. i had planned for white when i had planned for a completely different kitchen than the one i ended up with. so we talked about light stain to match a butcher block island or even getting a paint match for the cabinet blue.

a few weeks back, i found myself desperately in need of a project, so i started harassing cam to help me pick a stain for the benches and table. even though the dining nook is absolutely full of stuff, i couldn’t get past the idea that i needed to take care of this right away. we selected a bright blue and i got to work.

the benches are done and the table needs another coat of poly on top. i would have done that coat of poly over the weekend, but my sewing machine is sitting on top of it because i’m sewing cushions for the benches. if i have an idea about something i can do, i’m a total scary fanatic, and that’s why i’ve gone all martha stewart on this project. for ages, i’ve been on the lookout for a nice fabric for my cushions and possibly for curtains. i had this idea of stripes, but never could find any that i liked well enough. about a month ago i bought a pair of mitts from target’s summer section. they were clearance items, so they were about $2 each. bright blue stripes with white and green stripes here and there. i showed my mom one day and she commented on how it would have been nice if i had found that material for the benches. i filed that one away with the intent of finding something to match. in my hunt for fabrics, i looked at the messiness (potential and actual) of my family and decided that either a sunbrella fabric or oilcloth would be the way to go – but my choices turned out to be either too expensive (sunbrella) or too garish (oilcloth). feh. so... one day at target i happened to be wandering about the seasonal clearance when i saw a plastic tablecloth in the same stripes as my mitts. it was about $2-3 and lined with a flannel-esque backing. it was way thin and way cheap, but it wasn’t bad, all things considered. i bought it and brought it home, but didn’t get started right away. when i did get started, i realized that it might be thin enough to tear from the stitch holes with a bit of pressure (oh, i don’t know, like from sitting on it?), but oh well, i’ve decided to finish them anyway because at least i’ll have something there and i can take more time to find something better. my sewing skills are not great, so i’m glad i picked a busy fabric to distract from them. my mom was kind enough to pick up some 2-inch foam for me the other day, so i cut it up (poorly) this weekend. 2-inch foam is so hard to cut with scissors! never again. the leftover foam piece i covered with another target tablecloth so now we have a nice big floor cushion for paul to lie on. the cushion project is finally starting to take shape. pun not intended, of course.

i’ll have to post a picture when i’m done with everything because i have a feeling that as crappy as the end result might be, i’m going to be so freaking proud that i did this myself.

July 25, 2005

oooh, silver sage and latte!

looking at the restoration hardware catalog makes me want to redo my house. curses!

June 27, 2005

productivity and then some

although some would call me masochistic, there are few things i like more than a productive weekend. yay for productivity!

(when i say productive, i mean i get all my errands/chores done – or if not all of them, then at least a goodly enough portion of them to make me feel like i have earned the right to sit down and put my feet up. yes, i have to earn that.)

i am a restless person. sitting still doesn’t, um, sit well with me. however, that doesn’t mean that i am always a whirlwind of energy. i do more than occasionally end up sitting on my ass – wallowing in guilt, of course, for all the things i could be doing. i know this drives cam crazy, but this is just how i am. even when i don’t really have the intention of keeping busy, i like to have plans just so i can enjoy the accompanying guilt when said plans are not fulfilled. i have a to-do list several pages long. when the planning process falls a little short, out comes the to-do list and suddenly i’m overwhelmed.

this weekend i had plenty of guilt for saturday – slept, slept, slept – but i almost made up for it on sunday. did five loads of laundry (washed, dried and put away), prepped/stained two benches and assembled/prepped/stained a dining table. i didn’t get to poly the table and benches because it suddenly got a bit windy and the idea of tiny bits of grass, twigs, etc. sticking to them just made me a bit ill. i didn’t make it to the grocery store, though, so that is what kept me from weekend nirvana. you’d think that maybe once i’d set my sights lower so that i could actually be happy on a sunday evening.

June 24, 2005

grace, meet overly large battery-powered vehicle

lately i have been obsessing over sheds. sheds. sheds! SHEDS.

it all started when i realized that there was simply too much crap in the patio-esque thing (p.e.t.) in front of the house. a zillion plants, a table and chairs, a dead tv (don’t ask), arrowhead water bottles, drawers from our old kitchen cabinets, firewood, an old coffee table, etc. etc. etc. and a JEEP.

the jeep is a power wheels one from cam’s boss. his kids outgrew it, so he passed it along to paul. a jeep. upon the arrival of a baby, some people give giftcards, others give clothes. marc gave us a jeep.

ever since we got it, it has lived on the p.e.t. in front of the house because it’s really too big to put in the house. paul has never used it as a battery-powered toy. he just sits in it and looks excited. occasionally he complains about the seatbelt.

one day it hit me now that he’s almost old enough to use it as a battery-powered toy, he cannot possibly use it in the p.e.t because it’s too damn full. (it’s also too small, but i didn’t even think about that until later.)

normal people might have considered clearing out the p.e.t. me, i decided that a shed was the answer. no, not a shed to hold the drawers, bottles. coffee table. a shed to house the JEEP. a veritable baby garage to be bestowed upon the boy by the whims of an overgenerous parent. then the jeep would be protected from the elements (the p.e.t. has an awning above it, by the way) and we could store it in the backyard, which would also have the pleasant bonus of giving the boy much more space to ride said jeep.

brilliant!

but then i started the shed hunt and everything kind of went to shit from there. sheds are freaking expensive! and not only that…. the jeep is too damn big for the kinds of sheds i was contemplating. apparently i am all kinds of foolishly optimistic.

so now cam says we may build a shed. us. building a shed. somehow those words do not strike me as actually going together in any sort of coherent arrangement. crap.

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