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.


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!


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.


What to do?: Results, Part 2.

Thinking back, it was a busy holiday weekend, even if I didn't get a whole lot done around the house.  I sure had some grand dreams, didn't I?

On Saturday of that long weekend, I did start putting together a photo album of Hailey thanks to the Ikea Family promo code freebie thing.  I had to stop though as it was just too hard, too much, too overwhelming.  The pain of losing her is so unbelievably immense, more than I can even begin to think about processing, therefore I'm still in shock and denial.

I have so many pictures of my sweet pea (but not enough of course), so many I want to include, ones that remind me of this time or that time or something that slipped my memory or when she...; I got so very sad and heartsick.  Words like "remember" or "was" or anything past tense is like twenty thousand daggers to my soul.  So yeah, had to stop.  I suppose if I miss out on the free photo book, so be it.


I did neglect to mention last time I wrote that I bought myself a super cool big present.  A compound miter saw.  Yep.  I did it.  And I am darn excited about it too.  I have wanted one for...I don't even know how long.

Happy gift to Becky day!  Cannot wait to try it out.

So did I dash home breathlessly and rip open the box like it was Christmas morning?  Well, ummm, nooo, not quite yet, but I promise that will happen.  I'll try to video the moment.  The saw was on sale and Monday was as good a time as any, so bingo, baby got compound miter saw!  I do love me some power tools.

After taking care of the door closers and even though I was super wiped out, I thought and thought and thought.  Well, ya know, that garage is bugging me the most right now, the mess on my side after Mike cleaned up his side.

Mike's much tidier side of the garage.

Ok, if I'm gonna do only one more thing around the house, the garage is it, I thought to myself.

My messy side.  Yeesch.

Mike had moved those cool black chairs that I love so much, the ones he wants to throw out, to right in front of my car.  I bet I know why he did that too -- he was probably hoping I'd get irritated with them being there and want them tossed.  No such luck.

Finally, a photo of those cool black chairs I love so much!

About two weeks prior, I inquired of him, "hey uh, baby, do you think [and here's where his eyes usually glaze over and roll back into his head, those three little words 'do you think'] those black chairs could be stashed up in the rafters of the garage?"  I got a blank stare, a hint of a glare, a long pause and then a "nope."  He said he didn't want them falling on the cars.  Understandable.

But, so, then I picked up some bungee cords after checking out the rafter situation in the garage, heh, because ya know, I can't leave well enough alone.  And now guess where the chairs are.  Securely wedged above and out of the way.  I did forewarn Mike while dining at Superdawg, that when he got home he'd see those chairs up there.  "They're going to fall," he protested, in full on glare mode.  Understandable, he was tired.  "They're really wedged and anchored down, babe, it'll be fine," I responded.

They're still up there.  They won't fall.

Only one chair above on Mike's side because if it falls on his car, this will be my last post ever.

I rediscovered this spiffy piece of wood below which I had picked up from Twitchy's place during one of my final visits.  A cool idea for this is in order, I just don't know what yet.

I don't know what kind of wood it is but it resembles the mahogany pieces I got from him.  Either way, whatever it is, it's just cool.

Anyway, so I tidied up my side of the garage, and ahhhhh, it's sooooo much better.  I'm very anti-visual clutter, so now that the mess is cleared up, pulling into the garage every day is far more pleasant.

Those boxes are brimming with tile I purchased, way pre-planning ahead:  the floor of the main bath, the floor of the master bathroom plus wall tile for the master shower-to-be.  All stuff that needs to happen.  Someday.  Sigh.

But, until that day, I have a nice, tidy, roomy, and orderly parking space.  Yay!  Funny, I caught a second wind after cleaning up the garage though thankfully I knew better than to keep going.  I depleted that second wind picking up the library chair though.

So that's pretty well how I spent my three day weekend.  Not as productive as I was hoping, but a few things got done and that's good enough for me.  Not super exciting, probably not the most thrilling read ever, but it's all part of our house process.

Coming soon, the nice folks at Hometalk invited me to curate a clipboard for the first time ever!  How cool is that?!  Stay tuned for that upcoming blog post!


What to do?: Results, Part 1.

Well, heh.

Remember how a-twitter I was last Friday about having nearly three full days off, trying to figure out the millions of things I could get done around the house during what seemed like a huge amount of free time?  Right.  As I predicted, not as much as ambitiously hoped.  Heh, ah well, so be it.

I ended up not doing anything that I mentioned the other day.  Yeah, I went all rascally off-list again.  But that's ok, these other things needed doing as well.

'Member I mentioned our front door and the oh-so-lovely security door?  That was also an off-list day.  Anyway, so the door closer on the security door seemingly gave out so anytime we opened the door, the thing Slammed shut.  Yes, capital s.  Driving me nutso.  I couldn't take it anymore so I picked up two new door closers as the back door is all slammy too.

So there's the old closer.  Ya know, nothing fancy, a door closer.

Turns out the one I got was pretty well darn near the exact same thing.

The difference being with this new one, there is a plate that secures to the door frame, protecting it from the closer.  Or something.  Somehow.  Or so the package said.  Well, whatever, a plate can't be a bad thing, right?  I do wish they hadn't put the directions on the back of the packaging as no matter how hard I tried not to rip it, I ripped it.

So then I notice there's a little diagram on the side of the new canister part showing how to speed up or slow down the door by tightening or loosening a screw.



Did not know that.  It was then that I wondered, huh, maybe all I needed to do was adjust the darn screw and not get a whole new thingie.  Ah well, if the flipper touched it, it was bound to break anyway.

It didn't take all that long to install, though I did need to drill a new hole in the security door itself as the length of the new closer did not match the old one.  That meant going downstairs and back up several times until I had the correct type and size drill bit.  Heh, nothing's ever easy as pie.  Though making a pie is not easy.  Ahhh, pffft, you know what I mean!  :)

New closer.  Looks amazingly similar to the old closer, doesn't it?
After a few adjustments of the speed screw, it was good to go.  Instead of replacing the back door closer, I got smart, merely adjusting that screw; huh, whaddya know, it was much better.  Palm, forehead.

At that point I was suddenly pooped, just wiped out tired so I opted not to go the overexertion route that I'm so prone to do lest I hurt myself or end up with a cold or something.  Sorta opted, anyway.  That'll be Part 2.  But it was funny when Mike got home yesterday (yes, he worked on Labor Day, sad face), he said, "huh, weird how the door starts working now."

In other news, I did manage to get the chair from the Craigslist guy.  Sometimes buying things off of there is quite the hassle and you meet some difficult people.

He was one of the special ones.  He was impossible to get a hold of, he kept changing the time he was available (2-6, no wait, after 4...no, between 5-6.  No, I mean 5:15.  Did I say 5:15?  I meant 5:30), and then he decided had a real masterpiece on his hands worth gobs of money.  Originally the ad said $30 but on Sunday he raised the price to $40.

I casually mentioned the price increase to him yesterday, asking nicely if I could give him $30 since that's what he listed it for...No!, he said adamantly, all angry-like as if I kicked his cat.  Something blah blah about all this stuff going to some kind of auction, he just saw similar chairs at the Broadway Antique Market for like $350 each, so no, $40.  I'm standing there thinking to myself $350 for a chair like this even in mint mint mint condition is a real stretch of the imagination there buddy, who do you think you're trying to fool?  Losing a smidge of patience I asked, "$35?  Can I give you $35?"  "No," he said, as if I had then spat on his grandmother's grave.  "Not unless you buy something else, like here, this wrought iron chandelier for $85.  No, $40."

I paused, irritated at his attitude.  Fine.  Fine, fine, ok, whatever.  Here's your $40.  "Pretty uncool to raise the price after I inquired about the chair three days ago and you responded but whatever," I wish I had said.  It is still a great deal but never a $350 chair.

I had asked Mike to meet me there in case the chair was up five flights of stairs or super heavy or unruly or in case the guy was a rabid serial killer but as the guy was in a rush it seemed, he loaded the chair into the car for me.  That's when I discovered the bottom of the chair all covered in spider web balls.  Yuuucckkkyyy.

Oh, and the smell as I was driving home.  Mmm.

We left the chair in the garage to hopefully air out a bit.  It was a combo smell, not entirely sure what it is, but musty is big part of it.  I hope this wasn't a raw deal, this chair.  I was thinking about reupholstering it myself though in person the fuzzy fabric is mighty spiffy and only just lightly dirty, but if the stink doesn't go away it may end up at a cleaner of some sort, or maybe a professional's hands, or back on Craigslist.  We'll see.

I did feel bad asking Mike to meet me there as I knew all he wanted to do was just go home and then the deal was done before he arrived so I offered to buy him a swanky dinner at Superdawg right around the corner from Craigslist dude as neither of us have been to this old Chicago institution.  We had no idea it's a drive-in so that was kinda fun.

It was good.  Portillo's is better.  Plus, three words:  Chocolate Cake Shake.

Anyway.  Be sure to come back for Results, Part 2!


What to do? What to do?

It's a holiday weekend, folks.  I have three whole days off, well, almost, and my mind is awhirl with the possibilities of things I can get done around the house.

The other day I looked at my get-done-before-Sirens-starts list which I haven't done in a while and hmph, I just don't know.

This always happens.  I get a block of time and my brain winds up, thinking I have waaayy more time at hand than I really do.  But I do want to get at least something, one thing, done.  I just dunno what....

A walk in the p a r k with my cool woodworking friend Scott is on the possibility list, a long overdue catch up, be a little sad, try to be a little joyous in memories, old friends walk.  Yes, I still spell it out p a r k as I know Hailey's listening somewhere.  Jeez, what I wouldn't do to be able to say "park!" and take her for a walk.  Man.  Ugh.

Ikea Family sent an email with a coupon for a free photo book, so I need to do that before it expires.  That will be a teary, happy/sad, hole in my soul adventure as it will be a photo book of Hailey's life.

Ok.  So.  Um.

Some things on the list aren't realistic, like paint the kitchen cabinets.  Or organize and paint and such in the basement.  At least I'm having the wherewithal to comprehend that.

Finish painting the front door?  Maybe.  Depends on the weather which isn't looking too stellar for the weekend.

I did find a cool chair for the library on Craigslist yesterday but as per usual with Craigslist here in Chicago, the guy is flaking on me and not responding.  It's too bad 'cuz it's very well priced and it has a great form.
Chair from CL guy, his photo.


Work on the basement bathroom?  Ehhhhh....sounds really unappealing.

I'm thinking about working on our bedroom as all I've done in there is paint the walls and hang my most favorite possession up.  Mike and I agreed on a cool headboard idea which is pinned here, though ours will be much smaller.  That would mean buying myself a nice big present:  compound miter saw.  Wait, bills, bills.....Ok, we'll see.  I also had a curtain idea that would be cool but the big ginormous fabric store I'd go to is closed on Saturdays.  That master bedroom is really calling my name though.

Let's see, big master list.....Office shelves?  Maybe.  Paint the main stair?  That requires a ladder, likely a paint sprayer.  And for me to finally pick a color which I can't seem to do.  Fix the screen in the back security door?  Easy, and a possibility.  Dimmer switch for the library light?  Easy too, and a maybe.  A library rug DIY??

Gosh.  I really don't know!  I suppose I could just rest and relax.  Heh.  Right.  Likely I'll keep flipping through my list, wander around the house, see what I can get done.  I will most certainly keep you posted!

In the mean time, must make dinner.  Hope you all have a great weekend!


Well.  Then I see this article from the SFGate about the 12 Things Successful People Do Over 3-Day Weekends while couch-surfing and relaxing this evening and now I feel wholly unsuccessful and belittled.  Wow.  Yeah, I have to disagree with their definition of "successful people" if a three day weekend is as regimented and work-like as work.  Heh, I have to say, I'm a little put off.  Ah well.  To each their own, right?

I hope you have a fantastic weekend doing whatever it is you want to do, enjoy doing and I think that makes it successful.  ;)


Rugs. Thinkin' about a DIY Library Rug.

Yeah so, yeah.  Thinking about making a rug for The Library.  Look, I'm getting all fancy schmancy pants by using capitalization now.

Rugs are expensive things.  And because I'm super picky about everything and I like slightly off-beat things, weird, creative, unusual, unique, one of a kind, outside the box with a hint of edge kind of stuff...that makes it even harder to find a rug.  Or anything else for that matter, really.  (Right, Mike?  Sorry, baby.  You did marry me though.  He even said to me this morning, "you're so odd."  In a loving way of course.  I took it as a compliment.)

Because me, I will literally search through thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of rugs online in one sitting.  Often in more than one sitting honestly, searching for that right one.  And because me too, I have top ten in the world champagne taste on a bottom of the barrel crap beer budget, so if I do find that rare winner, it's usually more than what's in my bank account.

Such is life.  Sigh.

Ah well.  On the bright side, I can make a rug, right?

Sure.  Sounds crazy, but what budget DIY'er is in their right mind anyway?  Well, heh, I probably shouldn't generalize like that.  Likely just me, not in my right mind.  Eh, no wisecracks, folks.

Because everything in the room is so linear, and rectilinear, some soft curves are in order to break things up and create some visual interest.  Curves will also help lead the eye around the room.  But because me, just a circular rug in there won't be enough now.  I need more than one curve; I need several shapes and turns.  Plus some floofy soft texture is needed too to even out those strict straight lines.

I have yet to locate a chair.  I know, it probably seems all kittywampus convoluted, like I'm doing this way out of order by painting the walls first, then making the pallet wood blinds, then adding the shelves and books, then putting up a light fixture, then thinking about a rug, a chair, etc.  But, this is how I work sometimes.  I have it all visualized in my head, and have had the whole room generally visualized in my head in its entirety from the beginning of the library process; I just need to find the correct pieces and parts to match.  Everybody works and designs differently.  Such a rule breaker I am, but then again, I don't think anyone should follow any decorating "rules."  Do what you love, who cares what other people think.  Please.

Oh!  My mom had a fantastic suggestion -- move my grandparents' table into the library.  I'm going to try it, see how it fits.  I have always loved this little Jetsons-esque table and it brings back fun memories.

So I was on Pinterest yesterday, searching DIY rugs and folks had some interesting projects on there.  Lots and lots of projects.  I've been attention/focus incapacitated for the last month (gosh it's so hard to re-read old posts, jeez) so I only cruised over a few hundred or so.

But I liked this idea, and I'm liking the pom pom rug approach too despite the onslaught of pom pom hate out there on some sites.  I thought I could combine the two ideas somehow by getting an underlay such as Ikea has (I know Menards has it too but it's not on their website that I could find easily) and maybe make less full, floppier large pom poms.  Or!  Make less full super jumbo extra large size pom poms.  Huh.  Interesting.  *chin rub*  I do have several things of yarn that my sister in law Yan sent to me that I could use, plus a thingie of yellow that I bought a few months ago because I wanted to make some of these that I didn't get around to.

So it's a thought anyway.  I'll keep thinking as I have this strange feeling that Mike is crinkling up his nose at the idea as he reads this.  He's never in that room, so, heh, it may just happen as an experiment anyway, we'll see.

What would you guys do if you were going to make a DIY rug?  Just buy one at the store instead, heh?  What would be your ideal rug for that one little spot you know needs one?


Library light fixture. Finally, right?

Yep, bought some jewelry for the house.  Treated myself, Mike and I, the house to a little gift.

I mentioned a couple of times the light fixture I had chosen for the library.  It was one of those moments when you see the perfect thing and suddenly there's a glorious glow about the world, you hear angels sing, the clouds part and sunshine reigns upon you.  Ok ok, it wasn't that extreme but it was pretty darn close.

Since Menards was having their 11% merchandise credit rebate on everything in the store thing going on again, I figured this past Saturday was as good a time as any to get the fixture.  Especially since I had woken up earlier than I had intended and was well on my way to completing the five thousand loads of laundry that needed doing plus the other reduced-to-Saturday-only tasks at hand.

By the time I finally decided to go get the darn fixture, I had just enough time to get it wired and hung before heading out to meet Mike for a night out of town, away from home, out of the house.

I have to admit, my friends, I totally fell for the display the store set up too.  Usually I'm good at resisting such temptations, not wow'ed or lulled by store staging.  But.  This time they got me.

They put one of those old time-y vintage-esque filament bulbs in the display fixture.  Normally I'm not much for those bulbs as they're so overused lately, everywhere, and stuck incongruously into any whatever fixture.  (Yes, I am a trend-avoider, for a lot of reasons.  Mainly, trends:  they come, they go.)  What's an extra $8, I thought, for a fixture we won't turn on all that often?  I'll even get eighty eight cents in store credit!  Heh.  My brain, right?!

So there it is.  The Stella Maris light fixture and the retro bulb.  Or lamp, sorry theater friends.  Oh crap, the bulb (lamp) is on sale now.  Grrrr!  You bet I'm buying another one and returning it with the first receipt!  Yes, I do that.  $2 outweighs eighty eight cents.

Previously, I wrote about changing out two light fixtures around the house.  Oh, and the dining room fixture earlier this year.  Basic wiring is a good skill to have in the ol' back pocket, and there are videos, tutorials, etc. galore smattered all over the interwebs.  Start small though.  Electricity is dangerous.  Better to hire an electrician and be safe than sorry, ok?  I'm even copying and posting my previous disclaimer to the bottom.

Getting the old fixture down was cake.  I didn't take a picture of it.  It was ugly and sad and cheap.  Nothing you want to see.  No matter how old or how new a house might be, old or new the wiring is, it's always a surprise when you get the old fixture off, see what's inside the junction box.  Or at least that's what I've found to be true, even in this house as every junction box is different.  Though please, this house?, not much surprises me anymore.  This time it was surprisingly tidy:  only one white wire and one yellow.

I've never put up a fixture on a chain before, so I was constantly battling with it slumping down.  Plus, even though there's all that spiffy insulation in our ceiling now, it was still warm up there as of course, ya know, heat rises, making me sweaty and irritable.  So, it took a little longer than I anticipated but it's up, it's in, it works and it's cool.

I'll need to play with/adjust the length I'm sure.  Or, who knows, maybe once I get a chair in there with a small rug, maybe a side table, art or mirrors on the wall adjacent to the light or maybe nothing at all, it might be interesting to leave the fixture hanging completely down like this.

Super low, huh?  We'll see.

But now I am thinking dimmer switch.  I should research and make sure this bulb is dimmable first though.

Texture.  Shine.  Pattern.  Nature type stuff.  70's vibe.  Goes great with the black paint, the pallet wood vertical blinds, the books, the gold shelf tracks.  The perfect little light for our fancy schmancy library.  And I love it.

I will say though, we're having a tough time being at home, the one place we always always wanted to be all the time, the place I'm trying to fix up and make so nice.  Today marks two days shy of a month since we lost our sweet pea Hailey so suddenly.  I cry every day.  Every day.  I'm milliseconds away from tears at every given point, every minute of the day.  Each day is a struggle for both of us.  The routines, the patterns, turning around and being reminded by every single little thing, seeing pictures, not being able to look at pictures....It's been the longest, toughest, worst month of my not-all-that-short life as reality is burrowing its cold, evil clawed grip in.  Thankfully Mike and I have each other and stores continue to stock tissues.

So um, yeah.  We were recently talking about going solar as apparently there's this convergence of programs going on here in Chicago, but credits are not turning out to be tangible rebates nor guaranteed, so we may take a pass.  It would be fantastic, but we won't be staying long enough to balance out.  Well, I dunno.  We haven't completely decided yet nor talked about it recently.  It's a hefty monetary outlay that's not accounted for, especially if things aren't true rebates.  That's problematic; numbers aren't explained until you push them to give bottom dollar info, the total cost to finance keeps rising, and we feel a tad misled.  Which is too bad because going green is good.

*Disclaimer:  Electricity is dangerous.  It can hurt you.  It can kill you even.  Bad wiring can burn your house down.  It's best to hire a qualified electrician if you don't know how to wire things.  But, if you are determined to learn, more power to you (ah, silly pun!).  There are lots of books and videos that will help you.  Start small with a little lamp kit.  Do not blow your house up.


Insulation day.

So I've mentioned we bought from one of those flippers, right?  Yeah, the gifts keep on giving.  I thought he was bad; I'm rethinking now -- he's the worst.

After we had Dr. Energy Saver out to take a look, and he used his spiffy thermal imaging camera gizmo, it was quite clear that we had no insulation, zero, none, zilch in our second floor ceiling.  Who does that, not bother to put at least something up there?  Sheesh.  What an a**hole, am I right?

We had this dilemma before when we lived in Logan Square.  But that time, we opted to go the DIY route.  Our friend Jason even volunteered to come help us as he had done it before he said.  What could be so hard, we thought.

Ok, it's not hard really.  A confluence of this, that, the other thing made it a huge marital strain day and I've probably blocked half of it out my memory.  We had never been as upset with each other before that day, nor since.  It...it was bad.

We rented the blower machine from Menards.  All fine and good except when it got dropped off, it wasn't working.  Mike called them and they didn't want to bring another, but after um, I'm not quite sure what he said, they came back and switched them out.  The thing was monstrous and monstrously heavy; we needed it up on our second floor back deck so Mike made the Menards guys hoist it up there.  Yikes.

So yeah, at this point, Mike was in a grumpy mood, shall we say.  Then we each had our own ideas on how to accomplish the task at hand.  That didn't help matters.  At all.  Frustration ensued.  Everyone was angry with everyone else.

I was outside filling the hopper, Mike and Jason inside filling walls and ceiling.  But the hopper level wasn't going down much so I kept popping in and they were just kinda sorta ya know, not much on the effort there, so I got really upset.

In the end, we got some stuff in but nowhere near what needed to be done in the ceiling.  If I had pushed for that, we might have all killed each other.  Needless to say I suppose, we packed it in for the day.  And needless to say too, when the idea of blow-in insulation was discussed for this new place, you better believe the DIY option was not on the table.

We went with Illinois Insulators and wow, are we glad we did.  Their quote was in line with area pricing, I liked the sales guy and it's a rare thing for me to like a sales person, everything he said made it clear to me that they knew how to handle our quirky multi-level ceiling situation, everything was all very professional, and the deal-sealer:  they patch the hole they make.  Be sure to ask -- not everyone does which I thought was incredibly weird.

I wasn't in attendance on insulation day as I'm hard at work on Sirens season two, but Mike was and I made him take photos and notes for me.

Two guys arrived right on time and got to work.  They cut a two foot-ish square-ish hole in the ceiling in the hallway.  Considering every room is a different ceiling height on the second floor, I'm pretty amazed and thoroughly impressed that they didn't have to cut more.

I have trained Mike well, I must say.  And he knows me very well.  He popped up that ladder and took some photos inside, bless his sweet heart.  He knows I would have gotten up there and done that.

What he saw....well, let's just say the problem with not getting any heat or a/c on the second floor has been figured out.

Um....w...t....f....is going on here?  Why is it...?  Huh?  Who does this?!?!
This is my favorite photo, with the flexible duct snaking all over god's green earth and smushed in the joists.  Um.....My brain about exploded when I saw this picture.

Mike said the situation is mighty bad up there, worse in person.  Yeah.  Comforting, right?  Honestly, between you, me, and the walls, I sense an email going out to a lawyer sometime soon.  Construction defect, I'm going to hang my hat on.  Mike said too it looks like the framers did their thing and then suddenly everyone was like, oh, crap, wait, we have to put some duct work up there.

What confuses me further, aside from the shoddiest work I may have ever seen in my entire life, is that somehow this all passed the city building department HVAC inspection.  It says so right on the city's website.  Uh huh.  A-yup.  How.....??  I'm not even sure if flexible duct like this is up to Chicago code either.  Oy me.

Hoping that's Mike's flash and not a ginormous hole in something, shedding light from outside in.
Just some extra photos for you so you can see what's going on in our second floor ceiling from that one open spot.  Lovely.  What wonders to behold in other areas?  I'm terrified.

Dr. Energy Saver quoted using some fancy Aeroseal stuff but now, yeah, clearly that's not going to help at all in any way possible whatsoever on any planet.

Anyway, back to the insulation story at hand.....

The guys kindly put a big tarp down to protect our super crappy carpet.

After two hours, the job was complete.  Two hours?  I was blown away.  Ah ha, a pun, blown away....Right, ok.  That is some super speedy insulation blowing though.

And to continue the pun, I was blown away that they were able to get the cellulose into each room's ceiling solely going through that one single hole.  Seems impossible to me, but those guys are the professionals.

In the end, they patched up the hole.  Albeit, not the best patching job in the world but hey, considering I wouldn't have been able to get to patching it myself for months, I truly appreciate it.  At least now all I have to do is fix it and paint.

And also in the end, the final bill was to the exact penny of the quote.  Nice.  A+ there, Illinois Insulators!

My favorite-ist favorite part though?  I came home from work that day and there was a marked difference in temperature upstairs from before -- it was moderate and in line with the first floor.  Brilliant.  Oh I was so thrilled.  Even today, a warmer day than Thursday, it's not hot up there as it might normally have been.

Insulation is important, folks.  Now I guess we'll see how to tackle the unreal gargantuan duct work issue.  Sigh......

*Update.... I didn't know Mike had gotten a quickie snapshot of the finished cellulose near the ceiling opening, so here it is:


I did remember today to look into rebates from our utility companies for this work and as it turns out, we would have had to have used one of their participating companies.  If a rebate is important to you, do your research ahead of time.  I thought I had, but clearly, I did not.  I asked Illinois Insulators and our sales guy said in order to participate in the program, for them and the customer, the costs are much higher; they prefer to not participate and pass along the savings by offering a lower price.

Anyway, we're still thrilled with how the temperature is steady and moderate upstairs now and very very very very glad we did this work.


The pantry floor is done! D.o.n.e, done!

Ah fantastic! I finally got the pantry floor finished and wow, yay

I'm excited to have completed that floor at last, and I must say, I am proud of it.  And myself.  It was quite an undertaking indeed but I think all the hard work and effort paid off.  I have yet to check it off my list but I'm looking forward to putting that pen to paper!  Mike loves the floor, whew; he said, "it's your greatest triumph in the house to date."  Nice compliment, huh?  He's the coolest.

It's one of a kind, it's unique, and it came out better than I envisioned.  I'll pepper in links to previous posts about the whole big long process which in some cases elaborates further on the steps.  In searching for older pantry floor posts, the list is lengthy and I see my first inklings began in early April.  I will admit, it's very painful rereading some of those older posts.  

Back in May, I ripped out the cheapy crappy terrible carpet.  So then here's what I used for the new floor:
It's kind of funny to type the materials list -- it's way shorter than it feels like, heh.  Probably because it took what feels like forever to collect the wood.

Total cost:  approximately $90.00

I began by collecting the individual cut pieces from Twitchy.  Each time I collected a batch, I would arrange them on the floor which also allowed me to track my progress on how many more pieces I needed.  Shortly after the wood collection began, I painted one of the walls in that happy happy Lemon Curd color, my now favorite yellow.

Once the wood pieces were all completely laid out, the opposite end required some trimmed pieces as well as along the wall opposite the main shelves

There's that Lemon Curd.  Pretty, isn't it?

After getting all the bitty bits and pieces in, I turned to the small step.  

I had also been collecting thinner more slat-like pieces of wood and arranged them on the face and step.

Still some tidbits need attending to here, but close to done is good.
Next up, time for floor underlayment.  The original floor under the cheap ratty un-vacuum-able carpet was a mix of OSB and old old floor boards that appeared as though they were part of a porch of some sort.  

And with this flipper, who knows what the deal was.  But because the floor would vary in temperature more than one would anticipate throughout the seasons, mainly because there's a ginormous gaping vacuous area open below the floor, a layer of insulation was the right thing to do.

I measured out a piece, trimmed it easily with scissors, then stacked a portion of the wood pieces in reverse order in small piles. Stuck that underlayment down, re-lay out the wood and it was onto the next section.  Once everything was good to go, it was nail time!  I tacked it all down with a nail gun, courtesy of my excellent woodworking friend Scott.

Thanks to my fine woodworking friend Scott too, I had a nice pile of very fine sawdust.  I had also gotten some planer "dust" but it really was a bad bad choice, so avoid chunkier shavings-like stuff.  

Mixed with mineral spirits as a thinner and the polyurethane, I had my "grout."  It was a complicated and messy venture, certainly slow going.  

Not hard to do, mind you, just interminable if you're a perfectionist like me.  It required patience and perseverance, mainly I think because the spacings varied wildly and the wood pieces are not of equal thickness.  Eventually (5+ hours later eventually), it was filled in and dried overnight.

The next day was ugly.  I thought I had been tidy but clearly, ugh, I had not been.  Sigh.

There were dried crunchy chunky messy bunches stuck all over the wood.  Aw man, I was disappointed.  And panicked.  

After scraping and scraping and scraping which could have gone on forever, I had to just stop and seal the floor with the poly.  I was nervous.  Whooie, way nervous.  What if the poly didn't hide the scrapey mess?!  What if all my hard work was for naught, ruined in one fell swoop of sawdust grout mess?!?! 

Using a paint pad, I applied the poly by hand so I could flood smaller gaps, minimize bubbles, and closely control the poly.  I closed my eyes, ran the first swipe and whewwwwww, the mess was erased.  Yesss.  What a relief!! 

Half on, half off.
Two coats was all I had time for before my Sirens back to work deadline.  Hopefully two coats will tide us for a bit until I can get another coat or two on there after this season's work has wrapped.

Pretty pleased with the way it came out, I must say.  A little pat on the back for myself.  Yay, right?

But yeah, it's back at work time for me which means I won't be able to work on the house much, if at all.  Sad face!  We are having blow-in cellulose insulation done this week in our second floor ceiling (!!) and I've asked Mike to be my eyes and documentarian so I can share with you.

So what does this mean for my blog?  I'm not sure yet what direction this will go for the next four-ish months, so I hope you'll continue to hang with me until December here and there until I'm fully back at my list, refreshed bank account and raring to go.  Thanks very much for everything, everybody and hopefully I'll be seeing you back here right soon!

Happy birthday to my dad today.  And today would also have been Hailey's 12th birthday.  She is so missed.