11.24.2014

Lessons of the Thermostat

Right on, here we go!  House project time has started up anew!  clap clap!

Today's project?  Thermostat installation.

Well, that and a million errands were run as well to catch up from my Sirens time away.  Plus a fun trip to the park for Finn.  We had our first Mommy-Finn fenced in off-leash moment together.  It was fun.  :)

video

Anyway, so the thermostat.  If you've been hanging with me, you read about our blow-in insulation day where we had the second floor ceiling stuffed.  It has helped but ya know, this flipper, I tell ya.  It seems like everything he put in or did needs replacing, fixing, or redoing.

The furnace was cycling too much still, or so it seemed to me.  It would come on, run for a bit, shut off and about five minutes later it would come back on.  The weather isn't even all that cold out yet.  Plus our gas bills were obscene last year.  Obscene.  Just outright red card foul obscene.

I am always always trying to cut down on energy usage, scary bills, but increase comfort and efficiency.  Mike will crank the thermostat super hot or super cold depending on the season, and I'm always the one resetting to "reasonable."  Which is odd, really.  It can be 85 inside and I can still be cold.  In the winter I'm all layers, a sweatshirt, two pairs of socks and slippers.  Oh and a hat and scarf.  Indoors.  Hey, I'm always cold, what can I say?  Weird I am, I know.

So here's the old one.

Old weird random and fussy thermostat.
Not sure of its vintage or its provenance but it gave me fits the other day so why not just replace it anyway.  At least by putting in a new one, I know what I've done.

Mike got minorly upset with me that I didn't consult him about changing the thermostat, but it's not like I bought one of those uber fancy uber pricey wi-fi phone connected cook your dinner for you ones.  While the premise of those seem cool, it's unnecessary for us.  Unless it does cook dinner for me, then I will definitely reconsider.

Um.  The directions.
So I open the package for the new one.  See Finn laughing in the background?  Yeah.  I had a moment of panic and had to reread the package as I swore it said "guaranteed to install in fifteen minutes."

Now.  Usually I'm not one for reading directions.  Or, if I do, and I assume most people do the same, I jump to the key sections, skim for the info I need then have at it.  This time though I'm not sure what came over me but I read more than usual.  And, I must say, I am very glad I did as I learned two very important lessons.


I made sure to follow the directions when removing the old one as I did not want to blow up the house or myself.  First, turn the furnace off at the breaker box.  The new packaging provided little stickers to label each wire as you disconnect them.  Important.  Do not test your memory.  Use seemingly silly stickers.


Unscrewed the old one, popped it off the wall, screwed in new one using the same wall anchors.  Sweet.  Check for level aaaaannndd, all good.


Here's the first lesson I learned thanks to the directions.  It said to insulate around the incoming wire so no air from behind can affect the temperature gauging system.

Ah.  Clever.

Never ever thought that that could be an issue, but it sure makes sense.  Even though our thermostat is on an inside wall, there is a big gaping hole in the wall.  No harm in insulating.  I used the leftover piece of foam from when I plugged up the hole behind the sound bar.


Finn was a very good helper boy on our first project together.  I suspect his previous owners were not avid DIY'ers; he couldn't figure out what the heck I was doing and stuck his nose in everything.  He's on break here.

The whole thing wired up super easy.  Although, I do need my eyes checked.  I thought it said T on the old thermostat when in fact it said Y.  Yeah.  Neat.  :( sniffle.  Don't tell anybody though.  I'm all good.

It was hard to capture that 5 for you as it was blinky.
And here is very important lesson number two.  Now, when I was researching online as to what could be causing the cycling too much thing, every site I went to suggested there could be something wrong with the thermostat.  Which is why I thought to replace the old one.   Aside from it being a piece of crap.

Reading the instructions for this new one (which I of course got at Menards), it pointed out there's a way to adjust the cycling.

Whaaaa?  Huh?  Seriously?!  Did I just read right?  Adjust the cycling?!

Why did all these websites not mention anything like that?  Maybe it's this specific thermostat that's adjustable?  But it led me to believe that others might be as well.

So that's my Tip o' the Day:  if you're having trouble with too much cycling, check to see if your thermostat is adjustable first.  This particular one has a range of 1 through 9 with one being the most frequent, keeping the temperature as constant as possible while nine offers the fewest amount of cycles per hour.  I went with five for now to see how it goes.

And guess what.  The furnace is no longer running for what seems like all the time now.  I will keep my eye on it as well as the overall comfort level.  And the gas bills.

Ah, Finn's off break and has brought me an earless bunny toy.  And he just started tinkling indoors for the first time ever.  Wow.  Do not know what that's about.  I best be moving along now!

11.22.2014

Updates! That's right, past project updates!

Before I get into the swing of things, which I swear is coming soon after I catch up on some sleep and the mountains of laundry that have piled up despite doing mountains of laundry last weekend and organizing and tidying up and list-making, I have updates on a couple of projects since a few of you have asked.

Remember insulation day?   I don't really since I missed the whole day.  We had the second floor ceiling filled with blow-in cellulose insulation in the beginning of August this year by Illinois Insulators.  They did a fantastic job.

Insulation being blown in!
We noticed a difference right away, like immediately which shouldn't be a surprise considering there was about on average oh, 18" of gapping wide open space between the ceiling and the underside of the roof.   Insane.  Who does that?!  Oh right, our bad flipper does that.

We didn't have a particularly hot summer this year but on the super hot days we did have, it was very obvious that the second floor was no longer hotter than outside.  Plus plus for that.  Nowadays?  Yes, it's definitely starting to be more noticeable with the colder weather.

While the heat situation is not going to change unless we rip out all the ductwork and start over (cough, ha!), we had some days this past week where the outdoor temperature only made it up into the teens as a high.  The upstairs inside?  No longer freezing cold.  Woo hoo!!  It is not as warm as the first floor, but it is impressively not literally cold.  I am thrilled.  I haven't examined the gas bills yet but that's always tricky anyway with so many variables.

The most egregious chunk of ductwork in the second floor ceiling.  That we know of.
It was one of those projects you spend a chunk of change on, can't see the actual improvement, but is worth every penny.  Thinking about adding insulation?  Do it.

There's still a cold draft that pours down the staircase as I walk up but it's nowhere near as bad as it was.  I have a small plan that I'll implement soon that you'll read about in the coming weeks.  Or days, we'll see!

Our furnace keeps coming on too much though, or it seems too often to me, so I'll be replacing the thermostat.  Maybe today.  After some online research suggesting that that could be the problem, knowing our thermostat is probably a piece of cheapy crap, then after pulling it off the wall, sticking it back on then leaving for a few hours only to find the house at 57 degrees upon return, a new one can't hurt.

That little concrete soap dish?  Yeah, it's cool.  I quite like it actually.  It's not perfect, it's all chippy and rugged, but it's cool.  I put a coat of flat gel medium on it, hot glued some felt to the bottom, plopped a fancy soap on it, stuck it in the first floor bathroom, and it's pretty spiffy.


That Varathane poly is holding up on the vanity top as well.

Those free planter pouches I made in the spring?  Held up surprisingly nicely if I do say so.  The plants, eh, not so much, but there were some extenuating circumstances that didn't allow me to focus on their well-being.  Then again, too, it is mid-to-late November at this point; I think I can be forgiven for dead plants, right?

My DIY free planter pouches today.
The patio....oh the patio.  We love that patio.

It has settled a smidge but not even remotely as bad as we feared.  Granted we haven't been through a winter yet, but all in all, we are patting ourselves on the back for this one.


The chairs we purchased from Amazon* are doing quite impressively as well.  Though the cushions that came with them?  Crappy.  Got all moldy in half a second so off to the trash bin they went.  Other than the cushions, what a good buy those chairs were.

The pantry floor, I mean c'mon, it's great.  I received a negative comment about it, that I'd be so sorry once the heat was on, that the floor would buckle and curl and I dunno, jump up and choke me, that nails would be flying in my face and I'd hate it and be yelling and ripping it out forthwith.  Sorry.  Not the case.  It's still awesome.  I may be exaggerating the comment, but not by much.

The pantry floor today.
Finn, he's good, heh.  He's going utterly bonkers right now because more of his Favorite toys arrived via mailman today.  Squeaky tennis balls.*  He's starting to healthily pork out which is great.  He's definitely a weirdo, but who isn't, am I right?

Finn in the backyard today, sitting for some unknown weird reason.
Me?  I am pooped after nearly four months on Sirens.  A few tears leaked out yesterday, but I'm hanging in there.

So meet you guys back here shortly for rounds and rounds and rounds of new stuff!  Hang on tight, here we go!!

*The chair and squeaky tennis ball links are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!

11.17.2014

The End is Nigh!

No no, don't panic!  You can't get rid of me that easy.

The end is nigh in that my days are numbered on Sirens season 2.  (And you can bet your bottom dollar, I will be reminding you to watch the new season airing in January.)  We wrap up shooting on Tuesday and Wednesday is my last day of work.

Which means......back to working on the house with all my copious spare time!

Well, it won't be too terribly spare as Finn is a pretty busy boy.  No surprise really as he's still a puppy at about a year and a half old and will be a puppy for another couple of years.  I'm hoping to take him for some classes like agility or nose work but we don't know yet how he feels about other dogs.  It's hard to tell what he means when we see them from a safe distance on our walks in beautiful Humboldt Park; his reaction can be read either as "hey, let's meet and play" or "hey, don't even think about coming over here."  So we're all still getting to know each other.  He has definitely come out of his shell and feels right at home, so that's good.

Finn at the park mid-yawn, still too skinny.
I, me, I'm still struggling.  So is Mike.  Don't get me wrong -- I like Finn and I'm glad he's with us.  I'm so struggling with missing Hailey and the loss of her.  I went from a healing sweet pea to swiftly and without warning losing her straight into working on the show and now I'm days away from being back at home full time, if you're catching my drift here.  Finn will help keep me buoyed which I feel bad about.  I do not want to cheat him out of anything.  But, I expect that there will be quite a few tear-driven days in my near future.

Hailey, napping in July.
Sigh.

So, the house.  Right.  My brain is all a-whirl with the upcoming projects I've got in various piles all about the house.  Seriously, pick a room, find a pile.  Heh, it's kind of hilarious in its truth actually.

The vanity has not made it indoors from the garage yet and as it's jamming up easy passage through there along with the chair for the library that is in need of underside repairs, I suspect that vanity and the concrete countertop will be at the very top of the priority list.  Not just because the annoyance of it being in the way, albeit a very good reason, but because I cannot wait any longer to install it.

Heh heh heh.

Sorry, I'm still cracking myself up about the realization of how not wrong I am about the piles of pre-project stuff in every room.

Heh, I'm a dork.

But, what I need to do first, which I'm battling with myself over, ideas in my head with little swords in their hands battling it out for top of the list....is clearly take a nap!  Wow.  Anyway, after a nap, I will be getting organized, checking my old lists and assembling huge new lists.  That will clarify what needs to happen in what order.

Now is that time when my brain starts doing the sans-list avalanche.  It starts out slow....Thought:  the basement is a disaster zone.  Then it builds up to:  I'd like a workbench down there (oh, yeah, by the way Mike, a work bench in the basement, cool?) (I'm kind of liking an idea similar to this one that folds up).  Then it's full on open flood gates:  workbench is gateway that will allow me to work on fifty gazillion other projects that start popping off in my head like a fireworks finale.  Then I reel it all back in and restart:  the basement.  Sidetracks enter in often:  on top of the mess that is the basement,  all of Hailey's stuff is there.  Tricky with the emotional rollercoaster sidebar.  See?

Lists people, I'm tellin' ya, make lists.  Keep your sanity.  I will regather mine, don't fret.

Anyway, I've got a lot to figure out and plan and think about, as you can tell by my scatterbrained tired ramblings here.

In the mean time, I've been reading snippets on Abigail Ahern's blog.  She has quite well got it figured out.  Trying not to be crazy creepy stalker here but I think we share the same brain sometimes.  Yeah, ok, that's weird and mildly disturbing but, I like the way she thinks.  She's a rule breaker, an advocate for big and bold, doing what you love, and a paint pusher.

This was a cool article, how to "undecorate," over on the LA Times blog, in keeping with how I think about design and decorating and all that such business.  And this one got me all a-twitter as it's about how wallcoverings are back.  Good timing as I've got one in the pipeline, tease tease; I never did shake those wiggles off of wanting one after working on the Office Project.

Also been reading along a few other blogs I've got listed on the right side bar there.  Such as the Yellow Brick Home folks.  They are local to Chicago so it's fun to see what they are up to in their neck of the woods.

Sooooo, this is a head's up folks, fair warning, I'ma coming back at-cha.  Stay tuned!

10.30.2014

The Vanity is Coming! The Vanity is Coming! And another life change.

Whoooie, folks.  What can I say!  Vanity!

That vanity for our master bathroom I have been SO longing for is BUILT, thanks to the fantastic Sirens construction guys.  I am indebted for sure.  Though I hear a couple cases of beer will make them quite happy.

Here it is all loaded up in my car and waiting to come home with me.  Good thing Mike has the day off and is at home gathering strength....ahem.  Rest up, babe!

And here the carpenters didn't believe me when I said it would easily fit in my cutie little Rabbit.  Pfft, silliness.  
That plywood box-ish thing on the right there is the form the guys built for me for the concrete countertop.  They also built a cutout moveable insert thingamajig for me to screw into the form to block out the concrete for the sink area.

There's the stain color, Varathane's Gunstock.  The guys even poly'ed up the whole cabinet for me too!  I say, they sure are nice to me over there in that construction department.  *blush*

I am not gonna lie -- knowing that the vanity cabinet is in the general, round-a-bout kinda close-ish vicinity of our bathroom is going to make me insanely insanely anxious to finish the project.  Did I mention, insanely anxious?  Yes, insanely anxious.

But, as restlessly wide-eyed as I may be to get it installed, I have to take a deep breath, calm down, shake the wiggles off and be emphatically methodical with this countertop.  Which is hard for me to do.  I usually plow into a project head first, guns a-blazin', roarin' on fire, let's get this baby done!

I've been doing some (ok, reams of) reading on how best to accomplish this little DIY concrete countertop as it's a new-to-me adventure.  Sure, I made those little soap dishes (which I will get back to) and I have no issues with mould making so I'm not a complete buffoon.  It can't be that hard.

At the same time, there are lots of involved tutorials, loads of sites with reading material, tips, tricks, pointers, how-to's, lots of love as well as lots of hate out there in the world in regards to concrete counters.  Types of concrete, the process, the steps, sealers, waxes, this that, the other thing, don't do this, watch out for that, blah blah blah.....

Don't worry, I'll share appropriate links when the time comes.

The guys made the form using some nicer grade plywood so I need to decide if I am sealing the daylights out of it somehow to avoid plywood patterns or get some melamine instead.  Then I need to map out my steps, get all the necessary materials and supplies, get organized and go.  I have to view this project kinda like baking; take your time, follow the recipe, and you'll get the correct results.

But, I was SO excited about loading up the cabinet into my car for its happy-tears trip home, I just had to share with you.  I so hate our current vanity.  So hate.  And hate is a strong word I avoid using, my friend.

So right, since I was last here, our lives have changed again.  We have a new member of the family.


Meet Finn, everyone.

Yes, he is absolutely ginormous.  He is fantastic.  So sweet and so gentle.  He's about a year and a half old, we were told.  He's super lovey dovey, in puppy heaven at our house, and is coming out of his scared shell daily.

We heard his heartbreakingly awful story from a coworker of Mike's, then saw his terrified face in a photo, then had numerous discussions, some very teary, and came to the conclusion that we should meet this boy.  His previous owners were evicted from their apartment and literally left this guy behind.  Shut the door and walked away.  After an undetermined amount of time, he was discovered by the landlord.  Terrible.  Those people.....well...if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all, right?

Honestly?  I am a million ways topsy turvy all over the map mentally and emotionally.  I think I have experienced every emotion known to man in the last four days, usually within seconds of each other or overlapping and always with great intensity.  I do have a sense of being "ready" if you will, obviously because Finn is with us now and forever, but as my mom and Mike have astutely pointed out, I will never feel 100% ready.  Not today, not in five years, not in ten, not ever.  But there is room in my heart for more love.

I miss Hailey in the worst way.  I cry all the time still.  The slightest thing sends the eye moisture stuff into overdrive, dam bursting mode.  I grieve for her, the pain is crushing, and I am profoundly sad.  As my brother pointed out, bringing Finn into our lives will not diminish Hailey's importance nor lessen her memory.  True; he's right.  I am glad Finn is with us, I do feel excitement.  We did the right thing.  I have to admit though, this is hard.

Hailey is my soul puppy.  She will still be mentioned here, photos of her shared.  Our house, our flip being "flipped" is the house she built.  I dedicated this blog to her.  I will always love her.

Two of Hailey's favorite things:  car rides and sunroofs.

10.14.2014

Rules and Compromises.

I've been thinking about those two things quite often lately.  Clearly rules, yes, as I keep mentioning them in one format or another, or another, or yet another.  But compromises, I have yet to cover ground on.

Last Saturday night Mike and I were hanging out on our spiffy patio with our rusting, on its last legs fire pit, relaxing and chatting.  One of my favorite things to do.  Usually Hailey would lay nearby in the grass, er, weeds sniffing the air, reveling in the extended outdoor time.  On occasion she would walk between us and the fire, attempting to burn her tail fur or her butt by getting too close.  I think she just liked to have us "save" her from the fire.  Sigh.  I sure do miss her.

I had ordered this funny little toilet paper/magazine holder thingamagig for the first floor bathroom, which I thought was hilarious and weird, quirky and unusual.  Personality-riddled.  Mike was not in the right frame of mind when he came home on Saturday and saw it so he didn't find it as fun, weird, and silly as I do.  And in actuality, he still really doesn't.  But, I think he's trying to give me the benefit of the doubt on this one.

InterDesign Classico Wall Mount Magazine & Tissue Holder* from Amazon.  Please don't yell at me about Amazon.
Yeah, it's odd and it may not make a lot of sense right now but once all the bad tile is gone, the walls repainted, some quirky reading material gets in the basket, we get that room all figured out, it'll make more sense to him.  That's my hope anyway.


I dig it.  Like I said, I think it's weird and fun, and I had never seen something like it before.  Plus it holds two rolls of toilet paper!  And!  It's easy to replace the toilet paper roll!  Right?  Right?  Ahem.  Wink wink, nudge nudge.

So we were sitting and talking around the fire when we get to talking about the house.  As I mentioned last time here, I've been stockpiling goodies for future projects, a couple a' which, well, yeah, cough, ya know, I had not mentioned to Mike yet.  Ya know, heh.  Whooooop's.

It's not that I'm afraid to.  Not it at all.  We're a lucky pair, in all honesty.  He's willing to let me take chances (within [his {which is fair}] reason), try stuff out.  He has lots of patience for my weirdness, like say, my choice in strange toilet paper holders. When I ask his opinion on things he likes to say, "well babe, you are the designer here, go ahead."  Of course I want to include him as this is his house too.  Plus he does have a great sense of design.  But, simply?   We have an excellent collaboration going on.  We're very fortunate.

Compromise is a tough thing, whether you're making decisions with your spouse, your partner, a roommate, a friend, a client, anybody really.  By definition, both parties aren't going to get all they want which is why people don't like compromising.  You have to figure out what you can and cannot do without, but be flexible, not absolute, and see the bigger picture.

I certainly do not have all the mystical magical answers on how to compromise with people on design.  Here's what we do:

I'll present an option to Mike, he'll hate it or love it, or if I catch him in the right moment, he'll offer a counter option.  We discuss the benefits of each, the detriments of each, why we like our presented options, what we like or don't like about the others' ideas, how the options do or do not work toward our common goal, we listen, we weigh, we furrow brows.

If we haven't come to an agreement by this point and henceforth are at a stand off, there's a pause, another pause, shifting in seats:  pick your battles turning point.  We concede to who has the more impassioned plea.  Sometimes I prevail, sometimes Mike does, sometimes neither snags victory but we then agree to keep searching.  There are never any hard feelings.  If his choice not to my taste, I find a way to work with it because ultimately, someone I love loves whatever that thing is.  And it's just things, really.  Mike is far more important to me than any thing.

But, see, by its very nature, design is fluid so one day you may be wildly bonkers about that who's-a-what's-it and by next week?  Who knows?  You may decide meh, toss it.  Getting upset or finite about design elements is to be impractically spinning one's wheels.  Besides, the best design ultimately comes from working together.

So I show him something I purchased, feeling brave but nervous as I knew he would not be convinced by whatever reasonable nor wackadoo explanation I came up with that it's The Greatest Idea for a particular room.  I'm paddling up sh*t's creek to explain my logic behind the idea, why it will work within the context of design "rules"......

He went through our whole compromise process on his own in a millisecond, picked his battle and conceded.  But, not without mild protestation.

Quietly and subtly, almost unnoticeably, the eyes roll a bit, a sigh, a "whatever babe, it's your house," and a head shake with a "I don't get it" later he comes up with the quote of the year:  "designers, man," he says, "they make up 'the rules' just to justify their crazy decisions."  Heh, he's really not all that far off, and I mean that in the most respectful way.  Us designers, we are crazy, but it's all for good, all for betterment, positive change, to keep design moving forward.  "Crap," he says to me next, "that's totally going to end up in the blog now, isn't it?"  Yep, I said.

Patiently awaiting a fire to be lit on an evening back in May.


*The Amazon link is an affiliate link.  mwah, thanks!

10.09.2014

Making new lists. But first, upcoming master bath vanity....

Lemme tell ya, I am getting excited.  Ex. Cite. Ed.  Making a new list.  I am stockpiling, hoarding goodies for lots and lots and lots of projects.  Most likely not enough goodies, I'm sure, of course, duh.  But!  I'm still working on Sirens until sometime next month so there's plenty 'o time left to keep on a-shoppin' and a-stockin'.

As such, I'm fired up to share these oodles of projects with you too.  I know two in particular will be quite instructional and handy.  Tease.  Tease, tease, tease.

Big on the dancing around in happy circles is news of the master bathroom vanity.  Finally.  Finally!!  OooOOoooh, I cannot tell you how impatient and all a-wiggle I am for that one.  I've only had a drawing done for, oh, a year.  A year plus.  Mmm hm.  And have had the new sink sitting in a box just waiting, waiting, pining....for oh, about the same amount of time.  No wait, longer.  Wow.  Poor poor sink.

First, ladies and gentlemen, The Atrocity.  The Ultimate in Bad Vanities.  The Worst Vanity for a bathroom ever.


Yep.  Here it is, in all its glory.  I promised a while back that I'd share photos and hadn't gotten around to it, so here it is.  Oy, ugh, dear me.  These photos are from about a week before we moved in.  Look at that, three different tiles that don't blend well together and that looovvvely peachy weird paint....


The vanity.  Who.....??   *shake my head.*

It's rickety, all the shelves are loose, the sink lolls about and leaks, stuff falls through the chrome "shelf" all the time, everything we have in there is out in the open and gets dusty, the entirety of this thing is a major eyesore, but worst of all.....glass.  Glass counter.  Glass sink.  It is impossible to keep it clean.  Imm-possible.  It is THE most impractical vanity for a bathroom, especially a high use one like a master, ever.  The flipper must've gotten it at a massive discount, or maybe it "fell off a truck," otherwise I have no idea why....why.  Well, someone on Craigslist will when I sell it.....

Anywhoooo.

The thing is awful.  And it makes me nuts.

Now.  I had every intention in the world of building my own based on my drawing.

Still deciding on what legs to get for it.  Hairpin, chrome, antique, straight, angled, black pipe fittings?  Not sure.

Buuut, when the opportunity arose to have the guys over in the show's construction department build it for me instead, well, ya know, I couldn't quite turn that down now could I?

So yes, I wussed out.  I will readily admit I'm not a great carpenter, to be honest.  I know I could have built this with lots of time and patience and many many trips back to the store for more wood.

But, seriously.  Carpenters.  With appropriate tools.  Who build stuff daily.  You really can't blame me, right?  Right?  Sure, I let myself down a bit, not giving myself the opportunity to grow and learn and experience and use more bandages, but ....I think you get it.  Carpenters.

Faucet was purchased via eBay over the weekend.  Stain was selected, purchased, and delivered to the construction guys.  All that's left to decide are the legs.  Which, sigh, I should have shopped for first as now I'm caught trying to locate 5" legs.  Not a terribly standard size.  Always....I'm good at finding myself in these corners.

On my docket, though, will be making the concrete countertop for the new vanity.  And attaching the legs and assembling all the pieces and parts and plumbing into the bathroom.  Then standing back, sighing, smiling, enjoying, and jumping for joy.  Literally.  I will literally be hopping around for joy.

In the mean time I'm trying to figure out what to do about the roof guy which also ties into the flipper, or it may as well since our second floor ductwork is a train wreck that should never have passed city inspection.  Plus I'm not 100% positive our roof was replaced as agreed upon during contract negotiations, a portion of which we paid for.  It looks the same as the original and it still leaks like the original which was the whole point of putting on a new one to begin with.

I connected dots and realized the only time the roof guy answers the phone is if someone calls from a phone number he doesn't recognize, so I called him from the office last week.  He answered.  ?!!!  He pretended like he didn't know what I was talking about but said he'd be out Saturday, last Saturday, between 2-4 pm.

So I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And guess what?  He was a no-show.  Shocker.

My last message to him that morning was that if he didn't show, we are going to sue him.  He's had over a year and many opportunities to make this right.  So now I have to figure it out.  And find an appropriate (preferably wallet-friendly [yeah right]) attorney.  It could potentially be a big waste of time, money, and effort because even if we win, and we would, getting anything out of these people monetarily to fix things on our own would likely be near impossible.  Almost as impossible as keeping that dumb glass vanity clean.  Sooooo.....Decisions, decisions.

9.30.2014

Soap dish and paint and patch and and and....

Hey!

Hey guys!  What's up?

I know, I haven't been here in a while.  Things have been busy at work, Sirens season two.  (Oh, and there's a new trailer out for Jupiter Ascending that I worked on last summer, cool!)

As such with the busy-ness, by the time the weekend rolls around, you know, that time better known as time-to-catch-up-on-cleaning-the-house-doing-the-laundry-going-to-the-grocery-store-running-errands-catching-up-on-mail-and-emails-and-bills-from-the-week-etc.-etc.-etc.-oh-and-etc., there's just not a lot of time left to check things off my ever-expanding list around the house.

That doesn't mean the hamster wheels aren't turning, nor that I can't get anything done at all.  Things have to be quicker, smaller projects that fit within a limited time frame is all.

It had been two whole weeks since I had been to Menards.  The shakes were bad I tell ya, the cold sweats intolerable, the agitation building -- the withdrawal is always arduous.  So I went on Saturday.

The fine folks working there were all so friendly and helpful.  They typically are anyway but for some reason they seemed conspicuously more so.

Probably because THIS!  To make up for THIS!

Back side of Christmas display.  I couldn't bring myself to look at it full on.
Seriously, come on!  It's September, guys!  Stop it!  Sheesh.  Really.

Despite the horror show, it was a productive excursion.

I picked up some sand mix concrete, on the advice of the friendly employee in that particular department.  At least he didn't laugh at me too loudly on the outside when I said I was making a soap dish.

The concrete purchase was two-fold though:  soap dish and patching a long crack I discovered out front the other day.  'Tis almost the season, as Menards ever-so-kindly points out, of snow and ice and I didn't want any of that messing about in our foundation.


Ultimately I'd love to take out that concrete because as you can see, one chunk really really settled.  But, our cool woodworking friend Scott suggested building an extended porch over it, so, it would be hidden, so that's on the brain.

Mix-y mix-y, I made another soap dish attempt,


then patched up the crack out front.


One of my better patching jobs, if I do say so myself.  Insert applause.  A few congratulatory back pats there, thank you.

I also got the crazy hole we made in the wall for the sound bar during our wildly successful wire hiding adventure sorta kinda plugged up.


Well.  At least cold air won't come racing through nor will the hole be sucking all our heat out, considering there's no insulation in this wall either.



Menards had an itty foam pipe wrap elbow, so I tore it in half, wrapped the wires and pushed it into the hole.  It's not a Super Official Problem Solved kind of solution, but it works for now and for less than two dollars.

Foam pipe wrap elbow, missing it's 90 degree arm, poor thing.  :(
I also painted a wall in our master bedroom.  I know, you're thinking, what?!  You just up and painted a wall?  I know.  For many folks painting is an event; I completely understand.  For me though, I've been painting things pretty well all my life, plus painted my fair share of theatrical scenery, plus many many Many a room so painting is like breathing to me.  I just do it.

The darker blue is Granite Falls, a smokier, chalkier, grayer blue.  Great color; due justice not done by the photo.
So much so that now Mike finds it decidedly commonplace that I randomly paint things unannounced.  He didn't notice this when he got home.  Not even the paint smell.  Seriously.  I stared at him funny for a good while standing in the room together then eventually had to point it out.

It's amazing what "normal" is sometimes, huh?  ;)

But the plan for the master bedroom is starting to gel in my head which is excellent, hence the newly painted wall.  Once I sort a few ideas through the mental sifter and whittle it down, I'll next get anxious and squirrelly to get it complete, or mostly so, or the three major elements in my head anyway.

Oh but right, that soap dish.


Not the best end result but I learned from it.  Now realize I need to hunker down and make an actual for real true mould out of silicone to get what I want.  The sand mix concrete was definitely the way to go.  I'll still seal this up, put some felt on the bottom and make use of it though.



And lastly, in case you're wondering, no, I'm not doing all that well about Hailey.  Pete the Sweeper (that link has the very last photo I took of her, as it turns out) came by while I was in the front yard and he asked about her, not knowing.  The look on his face when I told him, I can't even describe it.  So that was difficult.  Then again, anything and everything sets off my eruptive water works at any given moment.  I'm finding laundry and vacuuming are the.absolute.worst.things.ever.  Each wash, each dry, each pass of the vacuum is less and less fur on our clothes, our blankets, the furniture, less fur in the house.  It's unmerciful.  It's the pits.  I'm a wreck.  I feel terrible.  All the time.

I recently saw this about grieving, how to help people you know.  I found it notable and meaningful.

So, anyway, that's where things are at these days.  Sorry to drop out on a sad note.  I'll keep you posted should I get more projects going.  Thanks for coming by!

9.18.2014

DIY soap dish results. Plus stocking up.

Right, so then this happened.

oooop's.....
Yeah, heh.  Rats!

On Sunday, I popped the little bugger out of the form, flipped it over to look at it, then flipped it back when sploosh.  It shattered into a slew of pieces, just fell apart in my hand.  Ooop's.  Ah well.

Thankfully I had a tiny smidge of the vinyl concrete patch left so I poured another one.  This time, ah ha, I let it sit in the form until last night, Wednesday.  But, after popping it out I'm thinking I need to use real concrete, not patch.  This stuff doesn't seem to be sturdy or strong enough for a delicate operation such as a thin soap dish pour, despite what the packaging says about higher strength.

Why?  Because, and even though the second one is not completely set and hardened yet, a chunk cracked off super easily.


Though, and most likely, it could be that my ratio of mix to water was bad since I had so little mix left.  Too much water.

But, I do think the whole thing, generally blanket-ly speaking, is pretty successful in a learning-experiment-for-future-pours kind of way.  The first one, before it decided to return to its original powder state, was way better.  The brim edge was much smoother and more even.  It looked really good; even Mike was impressed.

Again, it is handmade and terribly imperfect, adding to the cool factor.  Right?  Sure.  Or, as I said last time, if it's too imperfect, try harder.


So, I'll head back to Menards (aw too bad, so sad....), pick up a different concrete mix, then try harder.  One of the zip ties dislodged but after a good clean up of all the parts, I should be able to reattach it just fine.

I did find something interesting on the Menards website while perusing concrete options:  concrete counter mix.  Cool.  I'll have to give it the once over as a concrete counter is what I want for the master bathroom vanity that I have all drawn up.  Someday.  Hopefully sooner rather than later.  It's intimidating, thinking about building that vanity as a person who lacks good carpentry skills.  But it reaaalllllyyy needs to be done.  And there's this.  Plus I mean, c'mon, there's this!  No, I didn't pay that much.  Please.

In the mean time.....

I've been slowly stocking up on materials for future projects, fun fun!  Aw yeah, a little internet shopping retail therapy, *fist pump.*  Never as fun as shopping in person, but sometimes having the delivery driver just bring it to me is ah, sigh, way nicer than battling Chicago traffic on a Saturday.

I purchased a very large remnant of fabric from Chicago Canvas & Supply, a local theatrical fabric supplier, for a very large curtain project I have had steeping in my brain for the master bedroom.  Heh:  theatrical fabric remnant  normal fabric store remnant.  Like, at all.  +!

If you look on the right side of the eye-searing photo in this older post, if you can stand to look without gagging, you'll see one of the two deep-silled windows we have in the room.  If the end product results according to the vague notion in my head, it should be stupid neat, silly dramatic.  I still have some figuring and planning and scheming to do though.

Also interwebs purchased:  new cushions and fabric for our outdoor chairs.  The ones that came with the chairs got ridiculously moldy disgusting in oh, two days.

I couldn't decide between this fabric and this fabric, both on batty sale, so I got them both.  The patterns, wow, massively larger in person than as depicted in the sample images on screen.  Lesson here!  Get a swatch first.  I still like them regardless, but resist the urge to purchase a large quantity of fabric online without seeing and touching it first, unless you absolutely up and down back and forth know what it is.  (Yes, I had a swatch of the Chicago Canvas fabric.)

Along with the fabric and cushions order, I got some floral stems to make a version of these little pom pom guys to go in vases my dad bought for me at Habitat (damn cool store) when we were all in London together about ten or so years ago.

Yarn was purchased for the DIY library rug but when I was floating through the Joann Fabrics website yesterday, I came across a better deal and quite possibly a more interesting yarn.  I'll have to see in person though.  Which is probably the only way one should ever shop for yarn, in person.

Since I got that spiffy miter saw, I can start planning and making the headboard for our bedroom.  I need to talk to Mike, see how big he was envisioning it, compare our ideas, then math and plan.  Then chopity chop!  Yay!

A new Floor & Decor store opened up in a much much more convenient location, so I'll be swinging by there sometime soon to stock up on a bit more tile for the master bathroom since the plan changed (repeat link).  Mike and his (good) ideas.... Hopefully I won't go nuts and buy more tile that matches the future first floor bathroom floor for the whole kitchen.......because this tile would totally go with our wood floor.....and make the transition between rooms sooo much less visually jarring.  Especially once the cabinets are painted.  Or ripped out and redone.....

Or....maybe I'll exchange the main floor tile stuff and get more master bath stuff for the main bath too because I like it better.  It would look better with the vanity I assembled.  Though the vanity base might disappear against it.  Hmmm.....Decisions decisions.

What I really really need to do is pick a stairway paint and figure out how to get that done.  That's driving me nutso, cuckoo, berserk.  But it's a sizeable project due to the double height walls, inaccessible-by-hand areas, and well, the steps themselves.

Oy I am sooo getting ahead of myself!  Jeez louise, calm down Becky.

Ahem.  Ok.  Anyway.

So.

I thought I stocked up in a minor abundance but in having typed this all out, I clearly need to keep a-shoppin'.  Ah poor me, alas, more shopping.  Sorry Mike, xoxo!

9.13.2014

A DIY Concrete Soap Dish. Maybe.

Yeah.  I'm weird.  A little strange.  Not terribly normal.  If you've been following me along, you've probably got that figured out pretty well by now.

Why can't I just go out and buy a soap dish like a regular person?  Right?

I'll shop online for hours and hours and hours and not find the right thing.  Or, if I do, it's too expensive because I have horribly expensive taste.  Or it's close but juuuust not quite right, missing one or two key elements.

Like soap dishes.  I found a few that I liked after several sites and many hours, I did.  But, surprise, too expensive.  (Who really spends $100 on a freakin' soap dish?)  Or, a few key elements were not present.

I was poking around Etsy the other day which after hearing about the policy changes over there, I'm not super keen on shopping that site anymore.  I was looking for creative soap dish ideas and came across a few very neat concrete ones.

Heeey, I could try that!, I thought.  I did make that DIY concrete knob thingie a bit ago, how different of a process could it be?

It wasn't really.  I did have a lot of figuring and scrounging around the house to do for pieces and parts, but it wasn't all that different.

Here's what I've used so far (I say so far as the project isn't complete yet.):

  • paper half and half container, waxed interior
  • vinyl patch concrete
  • protective cell phone case packaging
  • zip ties
  • duct tape
  • hot glue
  • mould release spray
  • miscellaneous sundry extra stuff like cups, stirrer, etc., you know

See, the thing, the trick, about making moulds is thinking in reverse.  It hurts occasionally but it's good for the ol' brain.

First house-foraging turned up the packaging for Mike's new cell phone case.  Whoa, holy crap, it had a plastic tray in there that struck me as perfect for the top part of the mould.  Surprise!  Bingo!  Everything was built around that.

Yeah, hard to see since it's clear, sorry.
Next up was cutting up the half and half container.


As a kid, I fashioned sooooo many little paper boxes, folding, cutting, and taping as paper, markers, tape, and crayons were my toys of choice.  Ask my mom, I was a little paper box making factory.  So this wasn't a stretch, and it's not hard to do.


Now.  I eyeballed everything, as I'm wont to do.  But do please measure.  I went with one panel of the container then trimmed up on either sides of the folds about a quarter of an inch or so.  I then folded it up using the existing folds.  Existing folds, handy I tell ya.

Next I snipped along the folds on one end about a quarter of an inch in and folded up the little flaps and the part in the middle to form one squared end.  After trimming the other end to length, I repeated the process and ended up with this below using the duct tape to secure the little flaps on the outside.


Don't forget that whatever is inside will show in your final product.  Seams, pinches, folds, dents....all will be seen so if that's okay with you, cool.  If not, keep a keen analytical eye on everything.

So now here's one of the key missing elements in a bunch of the soap dishes that I did like:  grooves.  As we all know, it's not much fun trying to pry out a blob of previously wet soap from a flat dish, right?  Those grooves are an important design element.

My dilemma was how to create the grooves.  Time to shop around the house again, through my collection of random leftover crazy crafty stuff.


Here's what I found.  Zip ties.  Wood craft sticks.  Wood craft rectangles.  I was looking for my plastic coffee stirrers but couldn't find them.  I didn't throw those out now, did I?  Noooo.  Anyway....

Originally, after laying out the options on the plastic tray, I wanted to go with the smaller rectangles.


But, after trying not to burn myself with the hot glue, and trying not to melt the plastic with the glue, and noticing the wood pieces were bowed, I changed my mind.

Zip ties.  The plus here was that they are plastic so they won't absorb the water from the vinyl concrete patch plus they have an interesting groove pattern all on their own.  I laid a thin thin thin bead of hot glue on the plastic tray so it wouldn't melt and quickly, super quickly, stuck the trimmed zip tie on there.  All of which was hard to do after consuming a sugary caffeinated beverage.



Now, it's not perfect, heh.  If you're a perfectionist like me, try not to let it drive you crazy.  Or accept the fact that it's handmade and imperfect.  Or try harder.  I dunno, take your pick.  :)

Anyway, next up was time to mix the vinyl concrete patch.  Don't forget this stuff is super duper billowy and powdery; wear a dust mask.  I sprayed both forms with the mould release spray as an extra added precaution, though I think it's generally safe to assume these parts will pop right off.  Maybe?  We'll see.

I poured some mix in the bottom and after dropping the base on the counter a few times to even out the pour, I squished the plastic tray on top .  That's when I saw the concrete stuff oozing around the zip ties.  Mild panic.


Yeah.

So it seemed like the plastic tray wasn't staying in very well, or maybe I was panicking, so I weighted it with my can of spray and now it all looks like I've ruined the whole thing.  Stuff oozing over the top, the concrete wasn't even all the way around, getting under and into and onto things, it's a total mess......I dunno.

Neat, an ozone depleting substance.  Never saw that warning before.  Oop's.  Bad green me.
This could be a masterpiece or a big DIY disaster.  Or, a learning experience to be gained from for the next time!  Yeah, let's be positive.

You'll have to come back and find out when it's set and dry.

On another note, I've been collecting and experimenting with that DIY library rug thing here and there.  I picked up a non-slip carpet pad from surprise, Menards.  And using the yarn that my sister in law Yan sent to me, I've been testing out floppy pom-poms.



Using that same phone case packaging, the outer hard case part width-wise and length-wise, I wrapped yarn around a whole bunch 'a times and came up with these.  A project for another day, it is simmering on the burner, so we shall see.

Stay tuned, everybody!

9.08.2014

Hiding Things: My Curated Hometalk Clipboard.

Indeed, the super nice people over at Hometalk invited me, little ol' me, to curate a clipboard for them!  How excellent, right?  I am honored.  And I was right flattered, for sure!

I have my friend Janette to thank for giving me the fantastic opportunity to test out and review the Wiremold by Legrand DIY In-Wall Cord & Cable Power Kit in the first place.

The lovely folks at Hometalk enjoyed my post about hiding cable and television wires so much, they invited me to put together a collection of related topics to share with folks.  My clipboard is entitled "Hiding Things" and can be found by clicking here.  If you click here, you'll find my profile over on their site too.

Have you heard of Hometalk?  It's quite the praiseworthy site.  I like to think of it as Pinterest on steroids.  In a good way, yeah, don't take that wrong.  And by that I mean it's more in depth on home related stuff than surfing the Pinterests, a site I do adore as well.  While sure, you can click through a few times to get to the original content there, over on Hometalk you get the goods right away.

It's a superb place to see what other people are up to in general, do some research, seek out projects similar to what you want to accomplish, or even ask questions of their community.  Some of those in the community are professionals even.  And!  You can share your own projects too!

I mean seriously, just scroll through the topics and you'll see there's, well, everything.  It's a place for not only homeowners; there's great stuff on there that is directed at, useful for, or can be adapted for renters as well.  Everyone!

So yeah, it's a neat site.  And I like it.

They even made me this spiffy graphic!  Aren't they cool?
So right, my clipboard!

There are a few picks directly related to my own blog post about hiding television and cable wires as everyone's situation is different.

What I think is fun about the collection on the clipboard is showing all sorts of DIY ways things can be hidden, disguised, or stored.  Most everything I picked is easy on the budget too since I'm always keeping a keen, steely eagle eye on my own.

Managing the plenteous things we own, organization, storage, and hiding things are always eternal dilemmas not only for interior designers but for everyone in their daily lives.  Many times we cobble together a quick solution for an issue at hand, myself included; I hope by putting together this collection of Hometalk postings, it gives you a jumping off point to think outside the box and think creatively not only about organizing, storing, and hiding things, but also about your home overall.

While some of the things I added aren't necessarily my own personal taste or style, that's okay because within each one is something to learn and adapt to your own taste or style.  For each one, I commented briefly on basically why I chose it but I expect everyone to get something different out of it.

I had a great time putting together the clipboard and I hope there's something in there that's an ah-ha moment for you.

Thanks Hometalk, you're the coolest!

*a small disclaimer:  Hometalk didn't pay me or compensate me in any way other than nice compliments that made me blush.