3.03.2015

The Big Three...

....are rollin', rollin', rolling along.  Wish I could say I was Super Magician Woman and all three projects were done but alas my dear friends, they are not.

Getting close on the headboard though.  Or hm, ok, I have three steps left.  That's not bad, right?  Although I bet when I type up the post about the whole process, it'll read like two steps bam done in no time flat.  It is a time intensive scheme, but that's all right.  I want this to turn out well since I'll be seeing it and touching it and sleeping next to it and right, seeing it every every day.

Here's why I needed to run back to Menards yet again.

Sad-face wood.
I smooshed some of the new stain I splurged on, Watco Danish Oil in Black Walnut* into one of the pieces and I realized, oh.  Hm.  All righty.  Yeah, not a-workin' there.  Need large quantity of sand paper and wood conditioner pre-stain whoo-ha stuff.

Both items made a world of difference too, the latter of which I had never used before.

Now all that's left is assembly, a dash of polyurethane spray, hang on wall, then big tell-all to you.  I'll need my favoritest-est assistant Mike to help me out with the hanging up part.  (xo babe, love ya!  I'll make you a yummy dessert.)

Project Stair is, well, inching.  Everything I need is here.  Well, I shouldn't say that.  Not everything quite yet but   ...ok.  See, the house is kinda a bit fume-y from the wood conditioner and the Danish Oil still, making for a loopy brain, so bear with me.

Heh.  Phew.  *hands flailing about*

I worked on the top steps a smidge today.  Used almost an entire tube of caulk on just. two. steps.  Uh huh.  Sigh.  I suppose I ought to keep an eye out for a paintable caulk fire sale and stock the heck up at this rate.


Where the risers and treads meet, slurp, it's mostly in Gapsville there.  Got a few more staples out, banged in some sticky outie nail heads, used the caulk to patch some large nail head holes.  Advancement here is mucho slow, and as you can tell, I ain't rushin'.  Pulling this carpet is a pain in my rear end.  At least it's not as bad as the pantry though.  Small miracles.

But.  It's gotta come out if I'm going to make them stairs cool.  Where are those darn mystical work elves when you need them?!

Mike came home to this the other night:


I heard him start up the stairs, then stop.  "Oh.  That'sinteresting," he said.  It's as one word, yes.  In a mildly understatedly disturbed tone.  Then thump thump thump, up he went.  Later I asked, "well, hmmm, all right, do you want to see what it's going to be then?" and he did say, and I hope not in a facetious way as it did sound sincere, that he likes coming home to surprises.

It's always early-to-mid-project-without-knowing-the-end-result where I get confused statements, so it's fine, totally understandable.  I hope.  He trusts me.  I hope.  Heh.  He should -- this is going to be rock star cool.

By the way, in case you're wondering how I "erased" all the paint lines on the wall from the stripes:


This rotary tool attachment, a flapwheel.*  What a bizarre name, flapwheel.  (Dude, I think I need to go outside and get some air.)  (Why would it suddenly seem more fume-y in here six hours later?!)  (oy.)

Ok, I opened a window.  Nobody panic.  Sheesh, use this stuff in warmer months when windows can be open, hooooey.  Stinky.

Wear googles when you use that gizmo on your rotary tool, fyi.  Worked like a charm though do be careful to not gouge the wall as ahem, it's pretty easy to do.  Not that I'd know.  Ahem.

Waiting to hear from that guy about our roofer visit.  No word yet but it's not too surprising since this week's sleety snowy super cold weather isn't exactly ideal for checking out a flat roof two stories up.  If I don't hear from the guy, I'll call him Thursday since next week is supposed to be thoroughly splendiferous around here.  Mid-40's, yeah!  Shorts weather!

Well anyway.  Sorry for the lack of any real newsworthy substance around here.

This spiff-a-riffic item came across one of my news readers over the weekend, the Leatherman Tread Bracelet.  Holy crap.  Cool, right?  I totally want one.  Except, it's for men.  Only.  Not fair.  Not fair at all.  I sure hope to all get out they don't exclude us ladies.  It's a pricey item according to pre-sale pricing I see on the web so I best start saving now.  That is if they're smart and make a women's size.

Open window helping but now I'm chilly.  Heh, it's a no-win!

*The Watco Danish Oil and rotary flapwheel are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!

2.28.2015

Works Progress. Roof Rears Ugly Head.

That's it, February is over, bam, just like that.  Well, ok, so it was long and cold and snowy but with March entering like a lion, I still have wide-eyed fantasies of green and flowers and sunshine-y days ahead.  Please, Spring!

Projects are makin' headway about the house though.  Very exciting stuff.  The headboard is one step ahead, two steps back but it's coming along.  Back to Menards I need to go first though, again, and then maybe it'll wrap up.  I hope.  Cross dem' fingers.

I had a great time using my swanky miter saw chopping lots of wood.  I made a monstrous mess.  Heh.

Pardon the bad photo.  And mess-a-rific to-be-trashed pile in the background.
That's not even half the sawdust I generated either.  Being a neatnik, I do try to tidy as I go on every project.  Anyway, that was fun.

Project Stair has begun in tandem as well.  Because ya know, working on just one project at a time, ya know, heh, please.  No, but while one is drying I can work on the other.  Efficient usage of time, a-yup.

Here's the thing with the stair project though.  The stripes, they have to go.  I know, I know -- I worked hard on them, they were cool, and I said I'd never paint over them.  But guess what.  I painted over them.

When I told Mike that the stripes would be no more, he was actually noticeably upset.  And I was thrown off as I thought he wasn't into them.  But huh, turns out he liked them.

So when he came home from work the other night and a coat of wimpy crappy white primer-ish stuff was over them, he paused, shot me a look, made a melancholy sighing comment like "oh.  You painted over the stripes," and looked sad.  Heh, kinda broke my heart a little!

Honestly I thought he never liked them.  Color me surprised!

Well, color the wall with crappy white primer-ish stuff actually.

Ghosting stripes.
I reassured him that the new plan would be even more fantabulously excellent.  He looked at me with puppy eyes.  Ouch.

Today I managed to tear out the carpet off the top two stairs as well.  And get a blister from it.  And ouchie fingers again.  I think it took an hour just to get the two stairs bare and 95% staple-free.  Whoever put in this damn carpet everywhere must be a staple company stock holder.  Holy staples.


It's about what I expected.  Some gaps are larger than I anticipated.  Well wait.  What I should say is amazingly they're not the sinkholes that they could have been.  At least there's some wood here.  But in general overall though, not much different than when I ripped the carpet out the back stairs.  (A pre-blog project.) (Which needs revisiting.) (The back stairs I mean.)

Anywhooooo.  So yeah.  Because I found what I expected, it's fine and fits into the plan a-ok.

The other day though.  Oh yes.  The other day.  That was spent mopping up leaks.  Drying towels.  Leaks.  Drying towels.  Leaks.  Ugh, sigh, leaks.

I mentioned to you guys that preceding closing on one of our multitudes of final walk-throughs, we discovered a roof leak in the master bathroom.  Long story short, flipper and Mike agreed to split the cost of a new roof, payable at closing with work to be completed prior.

Ok.  Not necessarily the deal I would have struck because I'm, well, me, Iiii can be a bitch about stuff like that, but so it was.  Kudos to Mike for handling it and getting something when we foresaw nothing.

Now supposedly the roof was put on.  We have a flat roof and no access so we had to take their word for it.

A few months later I get a misdated copy of a receipt and the roof is still leaking.  Ok.  I'm annoyed.  The guy who did the roof said he'd come fix it because he warranties his work for three years, then no-showed several times, then stopped answering my calls altogether.

Now I'm frustrated.  And pissed.

Fast forward to the other day and I hear this weird noise.  What is that?  It sounds like dripping.  Is it dripping?  Where is that coming from?

Coursing through the house at top speed I discover a river traveling out of Mike's office and water dripping in like mad from the window frame.  OH was I upset.  I texted Mike.  He was upset.  Between towel change-overs, which was mighty frequent mind you, I managed to get outside and look up.

On my way out, I tried to rationalize....maybe it's just simply the window, maybe not the roof.


But ahhh-nope.  The water was coming from within and springing forth out of the frame with reckless abandon indoors and out.    Ok cool, this sucks.

Surely the sole gutter/singular downspout/rain barrel disaster zone plays some role in this but I have no idea by how much.  Can't get up there to find out.  Ugh.  Ok.

Came back inside.  Change the towels yet again.  Now it's coming in the dining window directly below.  Ok great.  I'm so excited.

Pace pace pace.  Change towels.  Pace pace.  Pull hair.  Pace pace pace.  Towels.

I decide to email the seller, Master Flipper himself.  We paid him for this, it's his turn to hear from me.  Thankfully I hadn't ripped his head off at closing despite every temptation, so I felt it ok to send a civil message making it crystal crystal clear that not only have I been diligent in following up on the issue, but that we paid him, it's his turn to resolve this.

Yeah, don't piss me off.

Totally thought his email would bounce.  Totally thought I wouldn't hear from him if it didn't bounce.  Was formulating plan B.

Shockingly, and I mean every letter of that word, he wrote back within ten minutes.  And even more shocking, I got a phone call from some guy several hours later who said the seller asked him to call me.  Whoa.  Ok.  I'm suspect, I don't say out loud, but please go on.  He said he'd call their roofer (a different one no doubt) and set something up for next week.

As it stands now, that's the plan.  Their roofer will be here early in the week.  We'll play this out and see where it goes.  We obviously don't have much faith in a guy who seemingly prides himself on shoddy work, but we'll ride it out and hope for the best.

We shall see.  C'mon Spring.

2.26.2015

Portable Plantings: Another Spiffy Hometalk Clipboard

Those Hometalk folks, they are all about awesome.

Got another invitation to curate a clipboard for them, this time based on my Nearly Free DIY Planter Pouches.  Isn't that cool?  I'm so flattered again!  I like them, those Hometalk folks!

Have you been over there yet, to Hometalk?  Like I mentioned last time, they are an excellent resource for everything home related.  I mean, the topic listings alone are dumbfounding.  So if you click here, that's the link to the clipboard.  If you click here, a link to my profile on their site.

But oh spring, come on!  Hurry up and get here!  Time for some warmer temps, green instead of white, let's get to planting!

It was fortuitous timing when they contacted me as I've been contemplating containers and window boxes recently.  Despite all we've done out front, going from barren dirt patch to plants and grass, the facade of the house is still a smidge plain and I'd love to disguise the un-level concrete "walk" that butts up against it.  I've kept trying to make a mental note to seek some ideas out.

The goal of this schmancy clipboard was to collect some ideas that showcased ways of planting in things that are portable, flexible, gives folks options other than planting in the ground -- especially for folks who may not have an in-ground option.  Even if you do, planters and container gardening bring another level, quite literally, to spreading green and color about your home indoors and out.

The Portable Plantings graphic they made for me.  Neat, yeah?

Planters and containers (are they one and the same thing?  Am I being redundant?) by themselves provide visual interest, height, texture, even color, pattern and shine, enhancing their surroundings and the goodies growing in them.  What's great too is every year you're not beholden to the same plantings nor containers in the same spots -- you can vary it up should you so desire.  Or not.  Options good.

Some of the things I clipped to this board may not necessarily be my style nor taste but within each is an idea, a springboard, a motivator to get you outside in the dirt and/or creating something, hopefully an "ah ha" moment that boinks you in the head and gets you rolling.

While you're over there, take a stroll around, see what else you find that gets those creative juices flowing.

By the way, those cutie planter pouches are surviving the winter in tip top shape.  Sweet!

*Hometalk did not pay me nor compensate me in any way for this post or clipboard, it ain't one a them there sponsored posts, nor do they sponsor me in any way.  What they did supply me with:  copious compliments.  And I just like them.  :)

2.24.2015

Workbench! Basement! Reuse! Nummy Recipe!

I feel like a broken record....Workbench.  Basement.  Recipe.  All good things though, yeah? Unless I'm boring you to tears with the workbench.  Then yeesch, sorry!

Here's talk of other projects first:

On the docket, hovering top o' list now is a reemerging entry, the main stair project.  Uh huh, I am wiggly with anticipation for that one.  I asked Mike if he wanted to take a gander at my plan and he said nope, just go ahead and do it.  Whaaaa?  Actually, I think he was worried that if he nixed it, I'd be crushed since I'm plainly super into this idea.  So yes, yes yes yes, stairs will be a-happenin'!  Right after headboard.

Mike's definitely got spring on the brain and is fired up to install a deck in the backyard off the garage.  Yeah, I know, we just put in the patio last year but that didn't appease his deck desires.  Despite the lofty seven degree temperature outside yesterday, I did some measuring and I'll do some drawing so we can get an idea of what we're looking at.  Have to make sure there's enough gi-ganto Finny run around space too.

But yeah, did yet more work on the whole workbench set up operation and it's coming along.  It's a visual cacophony at the moment, making me tweaky, so more straightening and tidying will happen.

More tools have gone up.  More this, more that.  Taking form, taking shape, evolving and re-evolving.  Will keep on evolving.  Mike said the other day he's excited that we have this workbench.  Yesss.


A funky addition....Eons ago my brother gave me a CD rack from Ikea which I've held onto.  CD's, yah, no one knows what those are anymore, right?  But I didn't have the heart to let go of the rack because I'm a sentimental mush pile.

I sank a couple a' screws in the wall and hung the rack sideways, creating a sort of shelving unit.


And it works!  I'm thinking I'll paint that spiffy 2x2 black to match.  The wall needs repainting too.  Oy, like the entire basement needs repainting too.


But hey, great way to reuse something and give it a second life.

Hanging that rack gave me a spot to snap on a clip light too which made me punchy.  A light!  How helpful!  I know, you're rolling your eyes.


I then took a pause from the workbench area to work on the basement area in general more, again.  And whooie, it is in much better shape now, if I do say so myself.


More shelves cleared then refilled and reorganized.  More former bed parts moved into the mini-closet with the bi-fold door that opens in because it can't open out like a normal closet door because there's a ceiling soffit because HVAC ducts.  See three photos above.  Because smart people did this flip.  A-yup.

So more floor area opened up, yay.  Then I got a bug in my butt and found a way to clear away the metal shelving unit along the perpendicular wall, the wall that's still yicky multi-"red" below.


A few steps closer to the goal Ikea panel curtain system to hide the storage and make the basement presentable and give us options on making it an actual useful space!  Pew, blew my mind there -- a useful basement?!?!  No way!

So yeah, it is definitely a long process.  The basement is taking shape, the light at the end of the tunnel is sparkling, my head is feeling lighter and clearer knowing the basement is coming to order.  Stuff like this weighs on me -- knowing there's a huge disorganized destructo-zone anywhere in the house clogs up my brain function.  Like I said, I'm weird.

Heh.  :)

I'm nearly at a stopping point though as I'll next need Mike's assistance.  Hailey's stuff.  We had a stammering discussion about her belongings a bit ago.  I doubt I can do what we'd like to do on my own without becoming a blithering pile of tears.  I'll end up that way regardless for sure, but at least Mike will be there to help, hug, and take charge when necessary.

I had to go back through all my posts yesterday to fix something, which hey, right, forgot!  Happy belated one year blog anniversary to me!  Wow.  Nutty.  Especially for someone who never wanted to blog.  But right, had to go through all my past posts which led to surprised amazement seeing how much has changed in a year and then see how much has changed in a year.

Well anyway.  Sigh.

Back to Menards to get a different stain for the headboard though.  I picked something up and way dislike it.  Too flat, too lodge-y looking in the wrong way, too red toned.  Sad face.  I had taken my time too, trying to be all budget-minded, make the right choice the first time but alas, nope.  So it is.  Once I get that, the project should roll quick and I can get onto the stair which will be a biggie.

In case you need a good, easy, relatively quick-ish dinner recipe I've got a winner for ya.  This here is one of Mike's favorites, Chicken and Vegetable Hand Pies.  Like a pot pie but encased in crust and a hip name.  He gets all googlie excited when I make it.  I use pre-made puff pastry from the freezer section and waaayyy less flour.  It's adaptable too so you can toss in your faves, leftover turkey instead maybe, make additions, ya know.  So that's what's for dinner.  Nummy nummy nummy.

Ok, busy busy busy day ahead, gotta get up and outta here.  And hey, if you're in Chicago, get out and vote!  Do it!  On my way now!

2.21.2015

More Workbench Fun! Plus a Breakfast Recipe -- Mmm!

Awww yeah, this whole workbench thing is so way way way more fun than I expected it'd be.  Seriously, I am having so much fun working on this set up it's almost alarming.

Mike yanked my chain a little when he came home Thursday night, going downstairs.  I heard a "Oh!," footsteps, footsteps back, then "oh! Wow!  Workbenches!  Nice!"  I got all a-twitter thinking maybe he hadn't read my post while at work and was genuinely happy awe-struck which turns out he hadn't read it but he did see that I posted it.  Wah wah, I thought he was all surprised but nooo, he wasn't.  He approves though.

He did ask why I hadn't painted the tables yet which I never uttered a stitch about.  He does know me well as the thought did cross my mind several times.

This time at Menards, with a much clearer head than last time, I picked up two pieces of 2'x4' plywood, three 2 'bys, and a couple a' 2x2's.  Sometimes taking your time and wandering the store to get ideas is good, sometimes it's not so good, but this time?  So good, hence the 2x2's.

Remember that image of those ridiculously jaw-dropping French cleats?  Please tell me you looked at it.  Drool worthy.  So when I was wandering the aisles a bit at the store and saw the 2x2's, that gave me an idea to do something similar in theory yet different since I do not have the appropriate tools (table saw) to make those spiffy French cleats.

And I'll likely never own a table saw either, which is a-ok fine by me.  I broke a finger badly and tore up part of my hand using a killer monster table saw at Steppenwolf years ago and have avoided those things ever since.  The piece between the blade and fence kicked back, shot at my left hand then flew a good fifty feet behind me.  Yes, healthy respect and fear of them there saws.  So no thank you, no table saw for me.

Right, anyway.

Using my swanky miter saw that I love love love, I cut the last needed leg plus two more for the smaller table.  Two more?

"I hold and lick to help Mommy."
Yeah, I (smartly) thought to make an area for a garbage can under the table while also adding two shelves.  Are the stars aligning up there or something?  All these smart ideas I'm coming up with lately.  Crazy!

Table height:  34".  Finn height:  ginormous.  See?  Wasn't kidding.
I wrapped up that table which hey, cool, allowed me to clear open even more space on the opposite side of the room shelving units which hey, cool, made me butt-wiggle excited as my Battle Basement rearrangement is coming together.  Slowly, but coming together!  Yessss.  I like that.  Hope for the basement yet!

More open space!  Whoooo!  It's definitely a process, people.
Oh, I added an inexpensive 18" towel bar on the end of the shorter table too.  Ahhhhhh!  Slick!  I'll make more of those nifty grommeted towels and hang them here.  Uh huh, smartness.


So next.  Next!  I took one of those nifty 2x2's, grabbed a 5/8" paddle bit and started drilling holes.  Oh yes, holes.  Lots and lots o' holes.  Most all the way through, some not.

With my handy dandy stud finder I located the studs across the wall.  Tacked one end up gingerly, placed the bubble level on the wood and attached it to the wall in two other places.

Ooooh boy was I giddy-as-a-school-girl keyed up.  Because, look!!


Look what I did!

Look!  I hung a tape measure!  Doh am I a-tizzy!
I can find tools now!  And they're organized on the wall!  Up!  Out of the way!  I can see them!  The skies parted, sun rained down, doves flew, angels sang.  A glorious moment indeed.

Omg, how eye-rollingly handy is this?!
Big bummer though?  I ended up with the absolute worst sliver in the entire world.  My hand went across the edge of one of those plywood sheets and zing, stab.  I know -- I wore gloves bringing all the wood indoors, duh, but not when working with it.  Bozo.  It's so bad and so deep and I can't even see it.

I'm inordinately freaked out about it too.  I've never had one this bad, ever.  Can't even see it?!  It probably doesn't help that my brain is on grief therefore my thoughts and emotions process in much more bizarro ways than normal.  Something I was never aware about the grief process.

While the sliver dampens the thrill of workbench area progress, it will get resolved somehow and I'll keep on keepin' on with getting the benches set up and yet more functional.

Goofy ecstatic about this workbench, I am!  I am such a dork, I know.  :)

What else is cool?!  I figured out what I want to do with our main stair.  And it is damn super duper ridiculous neat.  Head spinning cool.  I just need to uh, run it past Mike for final approval which might be tricky, but maybe not, but I already made tomorrow's breakfast in advance to butter him up.

Check out the recipe here, Apple Raisin French Toast Casserole.  Made it for this past Christmas morning and it was yummmy.  I'd advise cutting the bread thicker and less cinnamon in the egg mix, fyi.  We've got a heat wave for the day going on here (over 30 degrees!! Holy cats and dogs!) so Mike's grilling tonight.  Cannot wait.

Anyway, hope you all are having a lovely weekend!

2.19.2015

Workbench!! (Almost.)

Woo hoo!!

Awww boy.  Yeah!

Insert celebratory jumping around here, even with mildly stuffy face still!

For the first time in my life, I finally have some workbench tables.

Oh my gosh, I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am at this moment.  It probably doesn't seem like much or all that big of a deal but lemme tell you....it is to me.  Like big time.  BIG time.  !!!!!  And I, me, lil' ol' me, I built 'em!  Yeah!

Almost though?, you're wondering.  Yeah.  Oop's.  Clearly I was getting sick the day I picked up my lumber for the workbench as I am one 2 'by short.  One leg short.  Dammit!  Heh, ah well, we all make mistakes, right?!

Any other day and I would have run out for one more stick o' lumber but by the time I got everything done, it was 4 pm plus it's all of oh, three degrees outside.  Noooo thank you.

What else was cool?  I finally got to use my new miter saw for the first time too.  Yeah, only five months later, ahem.  I was a wee nervous but after perusing the manual a tad first so I wouldn't chop my hand off, it swiftly felt old hat.

Um, I guess I coulda read the side there where it uh, blatantly says "laser."
Either I forgot or didn't know, but (yes thank you manual) it has a laser line.  Suh-weeet!  Neat!

Even neater?  Straight, fast, easy, true, clean cuts.  Whoa.  Isn't it nice having the correct tool for a job?!  Jeez louise it is.  And I did not slice, dice or chop off anything on my body either.  Ducky, right?

So ok.  As I mentioned before, I opted to reuse a platform that we had built for Hailey so she could see out of windows at a previous residence.


It was difficult taking off the short legs in preparation but pausing a moment, I sent a mental thank you note to puppy heaven to her, letting her know I'll think of her every time I use this helpful table.  Sometimes I seriously cannot believe she is not here.

Sigh.

Ok.  All I had to do here was add new legs to it.  Before I made my cuts, I did some research about ideal workbench heights which as it turns out, averages around 36", or kitchen counter height.  So, I went to our lovely lovely kitchen, stood at the counter a spell and decided to go for 38".

And bingo!  Right tool, quick work, a smidge of planning, and bam, bingo!  My first ever workbench table.  I stood back in awe for a few moments, staring at it.

5' x 2' x 38" tall table.  Oooooh yeah.
Then I used it right away to build the second table.  Yes.  It was awesome.  Awesome.  And the.perfect.height.  I was quite smirky with pride in myself.

I built the second smaller table exactly like the first.  Somewhere along the way recently the other day or so I came across an image of a workbench set up where they had their miter saw on the table.  Eh, big deal, right?  What they did though was lower the area where the saw was so that the other tables around it were flush with the saw deck.  Smart, yeah?!  Gee I thought so, so I decided to make the second table shorter.

Finn, ever the critic checking out my handiwork.
3.5" lower to be exact.

The only pile of sawdust in the room?  Under Finn.  Why do they do that?  Now he's coated in it.
There's still plenty of useable room on this 4' wide table as a work surface even if I decide to leave the saw there.  But!  Now I have options in table height too depending on the type of project I'm working on.  Uh huh, how 'bout that cleverness?



How.  How how how did I get this to work out exactly?! With un-level floor and everything?!  How?!
I'll pick up one more 2'x4' sheet of plywood to make a shelf underneath the smaller table and use the remaining plywood cut off piece from the sheet I bought for our headboard to make the longer 5' shelf below.

Somehow, and this is weird because 5+4=9 and the wall is nine feet long, but it worked out that there's a gap between the tables where the sole wall outlet is.  Serendipitous for me, perfect for power cords to drop on down through.


So yeah, workbenches people!  Sure, they're pretty basic and hardly fancy but OoooOOoooh yeah!!


I had to share one more photo showing the height difference.  Seriously, how on earth, with a ridiculously un-level floor and wonky carpentry skills did I ever on this green earth get the height difference exact.  No idea.  But I'll take it.  Finn looks just as shocked as I feel.

Workbenches!!

As soon as I was done I realized, oh, uh, um, Mike never said no or yes or anything about all this, huh, I hope he's ok with it.  I'm sure he will be though.  I mean, he's gotta be, look at them!  We have workbenches!  And I'm sure I'll catch him using them too.

Looking forward to filling this area out and in to make it a fully functional, practical whole workbench tool mind blowing area.  Oh.  SO pleased.  :)  I'm already imagining all the cool projects about the house that will have their beginnings on these tables.

Next up though?  Headboard!  Stay tuned as it's going to be fan-freakin'-tabulous.

In the mean time?  Going back downstairs to admire those first-ever workbenches again.

2.17.2015

How to: Scald Yourself.

By that I mean, do you have one of those bath fixtures with that ever-so-annoying anti-scald feature on it?

Or wait:  do you wonder when drawing a bath or taking a shower why the water just will. not. heat up. enough?  As you stand there in lukewarm water shivering, shaking your fist in the air, darn it why won't this get hot?!

It may not necessarily be your hot water heater, ya know.  If you've checked that and it's all hunky dory fine, it's probably because there's that spiffily aggravating anti-scald thingie on the faucet.

But guess what -- it'll be faster to fix than the time it takes to read this post.  You'll be basking in wondrous hot hot scalding hot water in no time.

Where is this all coming from today, you ask?  Huh?

We have a small jet tub in our master bath.  Which we were pleased about.  We like jet tubs.  Until Mike took one bath and I took one bath eons ago.  The water would not get hot which ya know, makes for a, how shall I say, less than pleasant bathing experience, right?

Right.

So we never took baths again, disappointed, heads droopy hanging low, whining about what a waste of a tub, wishing we could take baths especially after something like Patio Day.

We know out hot water tank is fine.  Please.  That thing better be fine for the rest of time.

Being too busy with work for a while then other more pressing house projects, figuring out what the deal was with the dumb faucet situation wasn't a high priority.

But, as it turns out, the same bath fixture is in the hall guest bath.  So and ya know, guests stay, a mention or two, ya know, the shower doesn't get hot.  Hm, ok.  Guess I better fix it somehow.  Eventually I realized, huh, I betcha they're anti-scald fixtures.

Initially I thought I'd have to replace the bath fixtures which was daunting cost- and effort-wise.  I assumed because our flipper was such a cheap a--hole that he installed the cheapest fell-off-the-back-of-a-truck junk fixtures with crazy insane jammed up anti-scald lockdowns.

Little did I know that in this glorious world of the interwebs, all I had to do was a little online snooping around instead.  Well, heh, of course until I finally started snooping around.

It's fixable!  Yay!!

And it is so fast and so easy to do, my self is now super ticked at me for all those baths I've missed out on.  I feel like a bozo for not fixing them sooner but guess what, bozo-ness is outweighed by the sense of accomplishment and pride I now feel.  So there.

Tools required:

  • allen wrench or screw driver, depending on your faucet
  • brain.  Or not -- it was so easy you don't need one

Do note:  if you have children or live with folks who are sensitive to hot hot hot water, please be careful about doing this.  Anti-scald devices are intended to protect folks from burning themselves and making adjustments may not be the safest nor the right thing to do.

First, take a look at the bath handle and find out what brand you have.  Hopefully it's on there somewhere.  You might have to look close and hard, under, around, who knows where.  After a year and a half, I finally found out that the two in question are by Pfister.  Shocked, I was.

Hey, it's a bath faucet!
Next, run to your computer and type in the brand name and something along the lines of anti-scald fix or repair or device, see what comes up.  There should be several links either with videos or explanations on how to do adjust the temperature.

Tip:  if you can't find the brand name, take a photo(s) of the handle etc. and bring what parts you can in to a friendly hardware store person or plumbing store and ask for assistance.

For these particular faucets, there's a set screw under the handle.  Oh wait, first, close the drain.


Find an appropriately sized allen wrench and remove the set screw.  Ah, see, now you know why I said close the drain.


Remove the handle by pulling it straight away from the wall and you'll see something similar in set up below.

Make sure the rectangle on the sticky-outie part stays like this, up, but it likely won't move anyway so you're fine.
This one reads settings of A, B, and C.  Cool, this is what you want to see.

Ok, next unscrew the chrome or whatever color ring you have on the larger sticky-outie part, seen below.


No need to take the escutcheon part off, the big ring on the wall.  Yeah, it's called an escutcheon.  Fancy pants word, right?

Anyway.

Next pry out the gasket that has the settings on it.

These are supposed to be black, not painted white, as I discovered on the other fixture later.
Online was no help in determining which was the one I wanted for ragingly hot water so logic set in.  So if it was on B when I found it, and I slide it back on with A at the top, that leaves a wide gap to the left for that sticky-outie rectangle at the top which ah!, is better known as the handle stopper, and the gap is the direction the handle turns for hot water.  Yes?

Formerly B, now on A.  See wide gap to left?  Good.  Hot.

Now set on A, as in ah ha-hoooottt!
Reassemble everything to find out!

Yes?  Yes?  Yesssssss.

Ragingly hot, super scaldy water.  Complaints of burns from guests forthwith.

How easy was that?  SO easy.  So before you run out and spend oodles of money on a new fixture or start shopping for a new hot water heater, check your faucets first, mmk?

Seriously, I am so darn proud of myself.  Sometimes it's the easiest fixes, the smallest tasks around the house, mucho money saving itty bitty fixes that make me feel like a clever smart person.  Mike said he was proud of me too which makes me all warm and fuzzy.  :)

Still not feeling 100% from this cold.  Sadly.  Ugh.  Almost there though.  But I've been working on the DIY rug and whatever small, low energy/effort things I can.

Hopefully soon I'll be back up to full speed and get that workbench built so I can make our headboard and all sorts of other cool things.  Yeah!  Yeah!  Roar!

2.12.2015

Sick Day(s). Link Share.

Ugh.

I'm sick.  

One thing I can use "hate" for:  being sick.  Not only because feeling like poop sucks but also for the wasted down time it forces me into.  So frustrating.

Mike, yeah, it's his fault.  I still love him of course.  He picked up a bug somewhere somehow out of nowhere and despite my concerted efforts in creating a usually successful impenetrable zinc shield, it nailed me too.  Sigh.

Poor Finny -- high energy puppy and Mommy is sick.  And it's quite chilly out?  Boo.  Confluence of no fun for him.  Thankfully he's napping peacefully at my feet on the couch.  For now.  That will change.  As I stare at the kitchen that makes me nuts, shaking my fist in the air at the germ lords.

This all extra special sucks because yesterday I picked up plywood at Home Depot for our headboard (since they cut it to size straightly there for me, unlike what I would do not having the proper tools) and lumber for both the headboard and the workbench at Menards.

I felt that horrible creeping pending sickness feeling after collecting my 2 'bys; you know the one where you're like oh crap, it's trying, it's coming, oh no I feel the yuckies taking over, oh dear me, noooooo!!

So that made packing up the two door Rabbit and unloading it a smidge harder.  (It is astonishing what I can fit in that awesome little car.  Pardon the trunk mess below.  Yes, pine needles still from Christmas tree, I know.  Embarrassed.)

Probably hardly seems a feat but it was.  Everything a girl needs:  milk, joint compound, and lumber.
Sometimes it seems loading and unloading stuff for a project is more expensive energy-wise than the project itself even without feeling the beginnings of yuck, unless that's just me getting even older as of last week.

I knew the upcoming weather was forecast to be super cold after yesterday and as I was working hard to convince myself that I was not going to get sick, that I can start stuff tomorrow, I managed to get everything I needed indoors despite my pounding head, worn out-ness, and our ice rink of a yard.

But yeah, I totally had plans to get that workbench built today.  Maybe start the headboard and/or continue with the ongoing, never-ending basement battle while on indoor lockdown due to the frosty weather.  

Sigh.  Mike feels terrible too.  :(  Always breaks my heart when I see him feel bad.

I guess this gives me time to share some links since all I have to offer today is a stuffy face.  Some may be repeats but I find I like to reread certain stuff:

In case you missed it, our bathroom vanity over in Small Spaces on about.com here.  So flattered!

Worth a reread is about taking bigger design risks and being bolder.  Do it.  You'll feel so good, trust me.  Read it here.  Also another reread-able, how to "undecorate," damning the torpedoes and doing what you love.

Incorporating dark walls in your decor.  Yes.  A definite do.  Much like our library.  Love dark walls.  Try it.  Be bold (see previous paragraph)!

This article cracked me up because I'm guilty of several of these "design don'ts" that turn off home buyers.  Which is more hilarious to me because this article here says wallpaper is back in.  Honestly, I don't know why it ever went out -- wallpaper is wonderful in its ability to provide color, texture, pattern, and even shine where just a plain painted wall cannot.

Five gardening apps to check out, which I have yet to check out but intend to check out one or more.  In a similar vein, how to get rid of ants in your yard naturally using diatomaceous earth which also eliminates ticks -- a handy tip for all you fellow dog owners.  Cool uses for concrete in the garden here and also some spiffy DIY concrete planters here.

Lastly one I'm surprised no one has sent to me:  warning signs your house is too bold.  Although, wait, it doesn't really apply to me because actually the article is mostly about having too many things, too much stuff.  So, all right, never mind.  Besides, pffft, be bold dammit.  Ok, let me find a better lastly one....

Ah!  Inside the Box.  About how creativity is supposedly so desired yet is always the first thing squashed.  Pretty unfortunate really.  Seems to me there can never be enough creativity.

Well ok.  Hope to be back up and going super fast!  xo

2.09.2015

Catching Back Up. Battle Basement II: Why?

Well well, winter bore us quite the gift about a week ago.  Our fifth heaviest blizzard ever.  O'Hare Airport reported 19.3" of snow, the city's official total.  I swear though, we easily got two feet plus over by us.


Some of the snow drifts in the yard are higher than three feet.  Heh, it's pretty tough to uh, gain a true perspective of how much snow we got in the above photo since Finn is, how shall I say, curiously large for a German Shepherd.  Certainly the largest I've ever seen.  He has no problem setting his chin down with ease on our kitchen countertops, if that gives you any idea of large.  Huge.

I have no clue how Mike managed to shovel a path in the yard, then shovel enough to get his car out of the garage into the unplowed alley and get to work that following Monday.  But he did.  Pew, mind blown.  Mike also shoveled out some raceways for Finn in the yard later too -- what a dad, huh?!

Our friend Jonathan was next in the receiving line for snow so his flight was canceled.  Never fear, he made it to town the next evening.   Week of Becky mildly postponed but we all had a good time.  Except that little thing about turning a year older, a nagging milestone-y year, ahem, yeah, no fun.

But I did hear, or rather Finn heard, gurgling while we were outside last week.  I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and slooowly turned to face my fave fave fave rain barrel....


Yeah, it's all frozen up.  Snow is melting on the roof so water is spurting out everywhere.  Neat.  Train. Wreck.  Hard to see in the photo, sorry.  I checked the basement several times over the course of the week and so far whew, no water indoors.

I should have re-rigged and bypassed the dumb barrel all together when I had the chance.  Rats!  Grrr, makes me want to yank my hair out.  Top top top of the list when the snow is gone.  What a disaster area.  I get it, I get it, lessons learned the hard way indeed.  Next house?  South facing backyard.

All that is a bit water off a duck's back though.  Coolest news in the world at the moment?  Our master bathroom vanity was featured in an article on about.com, in their Home section under Small Spaces.  Check it out here!  Holy cow, am I ever flattered, honored, and just downright thrilled to pieces!  Holy cow, right?!  So neat!  Giddy smiles from ear to ear.  It's ridiculously cool.

But now I've got several projects on the brain competing for attention:

Main stair.  I painted those spiffy stripes in the foyer, so everything going up needs to complement them.  Docket:  what color to paint upwards and what to replace the horrid, cheap a**, already wearing out carpet with.  Of course much like the pantry, there will be forty trillion bazillion gagillion staples when I go to yank it.  I know because I step on them daily.  Uh huh.  Neat, right?

I decided I should resolve the risers and treads first, then chose the wall color.  But I'm stuck on riser and tread solutions.  No doubt the wood is crap, recovering in carpet is not an appealing option, and, well, we're just not sure.  Stumped.  Next!

Kitchen.  Yeah, I dunno why this project is taunting me, rearing its ugly head.  It's true, it'd be just soooo nice to get that in motion.  Wow, what an unironed-out project though.  Next!

Headboard.  That I have all planned out.  Or 98% planned out.  Measurements, materials, finished look yup, all squared away.  Just have to buy it and do it.  But....I need room in the basement.  And gosh golly darn it, a workbench would be so flippin' handy.

And then I saw this over the weekend and about fainted.  Click it, seriously, you have to look.  Here, click it.  Did you?  No?  Seriously, just look.

Ooomg.

That means back to the basement battle.  Ok!  Ok!  Ok.  Fine.  Deep breath.

It needs doing, it needs done.  I did do some more work down there after the first attempt.

Today I made more progress.  Promise, it won't seem that way.


My methodology is quite scattered and seemingly lacks focus, but it is coming together, you have to trust me.  I do have some unfilled shelves and more stuff could end up in the trash heap.

Some stuff is temporarily situated which I'm sure makes absolutely zero logical sense.  Sometimes I have to make a huge mess, tidy parts in order to resolve other parts, then have to go back three + steps to go forward again.

Crazy.  Not streamlined efficiency at its best but, it's how I work.  I can admit to the nonsensical.

My goal has always been to get this track and some sliding panel curtains from Ikea to hide the mess which is why I'm trying so hard to contain it to this particular spot.  I say always because I've been planning that since oh, the day we moved in.

Then sometimes I don't know what comes over me, hand reaches out and does whack-a-do stuff before the brain kicks in to stop it.

Yes, plastic bag to temporarily block up hole to gaping uninsulated area between wall and foundation. 
Yeah, I ripped more chair rail out.  Highly satisfying though.  And wow, it makes a huuuge difference.  There's the stair down, above.  Awful trim gone.  Yes.

Also satisfying?  I stuffed in more of those foam outlet/switch insulating thingies down here. Yes.  Quite satisfying!


Yes.  Yes.  Much better.


Here's the wall I'd like to workbench up.  Imagine those French cleats holding tools all across?!  Oh wow.  My heart is a-flutter.

We still have this plywood platform from two residences ago that we made for Hailey.  She couldn't see out the front windows at that particular place so we built her a step so she could.  Sigh.  Ugh I miss her.

I thought I'd reuse it.  Extend it the length of the wall, maybe think about having it fold down, I'm not sure yet.  The additional storage of having it stay up may win out.


Then I ran out of joint compound so I stopped.  First time ever finishing an entire three pound tub of joint compound before it molds out.  Ding, accomplishment!

Despite the jumbo pile of stuff in the middle of the room, I did get somewhere today.

So, we'll see where this goes.  All this so I can make a headboard.  Huh.  I am so weird.

But did you see those French cleats with tools?!  Omg, dying.

1.31.2015

Progress Report: Pillow, Rug, Mural, Stuff...

Busy week, I tell ya.  Though I suspect this progress report may seemingly reflect otherwise.  Let's see....

I made the pillow for the chair in the library.  Yay!  That was pretty easy.  I clearly have a lot of theater left in me:  I just kinda eyeballed the size and shape of the pillow while folding the fabric on the chair, found a shape and size I liked, didn't measure, no nothin', then zipped off to my spiffy sewing machine.

My parents gave me a Kenmore machine what seems like eons ago and man, this thing is a monster.  It's not one of those uber fancy machines that will cook you dinner or anything, but for one that appears moderately delicate, it is a serious workhorse.  I've run some crazy s**t though it over the years and it just keeps on tickin'.  I love it, such a stellar gift I'm eternally grateful for.

Anywhooo.  So I trimmed up the fabric, not much for measuring or precision here oh at all, or at least I tried to trim it up.  I had to wait.


My helper Finn was very helpful when it came to the pillow.


Ran three sides through my handy machine, turned it inside out, stuffed it but not too stuffy, and hand stitched it shut using the best thing I learned in junior high:  the hidden stitch.  Here's a tutorial I found on a quick search.

Once it was done I thought, hm, it needs a button in the middle, both sides.  Sadly I only had a single 1" make-your-own-button kit button so back to the store.  Not a big deal really as I had gone through a whole thingie of yarn for the rug and had a panic moment of uh oh, did I get enough yarn?!?

Have you ever used those button kits?  They're neat.

So I picked up a new button kit* at Joann Fabrics; man, overall those have gotten pricey.  Thought I had grabbed the 1.5" button kit on sale for two bucks but when I got home, apparently I hadn't.  Ah well.  So it is.


After struuugggggling to get the fabric around the top and get the backing on, I thought heeyyy, maybe I should read the directions?  Yeah.  World of difference.  Duh.  Put the fabric on the top part, mush it into the weird rubber ring thing,


and bam, duh.


Button!  Yay!  Darn simple.

Usually when I put buttons on pillows, I tend to do it the challenging way of course, trying to thread through, buttons on both ends then tighten the pillow all at the same time.  I make it way infinitely harder on myself and it never works out.  This time I pre-tightened the pillow with a few stitches and knots,



then attached the buttons.  Again, world of difference.  Heh.


Pillow done!  Cute, yeah?  I had wanted it more rectangular but hey, square works too.


Cute on the chair.  Happy Becky.

And as you can see here below, the progress on the DIY rug.  Yeah, that's one whole whatever it's called thing of yarn, 480 some odd yards.  Must....keep.....going.......

Please excuse the dusty table top.  Ahem, embarrassed.
I'm of course going to mess about and play with where the poms with the two yarn colors are going to go.  If anywhere.  Mixed throughout?  Along the edge only?  How about in the middle only?  Or?  Or?  Or??  My crazy head, sheesh.

By the way.  Lesson learned the hard way again.  That excellent photo wall mural?  So, don't let the wallpaper paste goo totally completely dry if you've got overruns onto other walls etc. to trim.


'Cuz here's what a-happens.  Sigh.  Ah well.  I'll scrape it when I go to paint the room.  I've got a couple edges where the mural isn't completely stuck on so touch-up's ahead regardless.

Yeah, hm.  That doesn't seem like a whole heck of a lot for a progress report now does it?  Kinda boring for you really.  My apologies.

But it's been a busy week.  We started up with a trainer for Finn, had our second visit the other day.  We've got some resource guarding going on now (I'm the resource) and he's still nippy with Mike.  Training is work for sure, but it's good and important and, yes important.  He's a good boy though, super super sweet.  He likes to sleep curled around Mike's head at night, it's so cute.  No judging dog on bed thing -- it makes him feel safe which is very meaningful to an anxious dog who's been through hell.

Next week is The Week of Becky.  Birthday week.  Oy, ugh.  It's one a' those milestone-y types too, ya know.  If a couple were having an anniversary of this particular number of which we will not speak, yeah, it'd be a big shindig with all the relatives coming to town, rent the party hall, balloons, fancy silverware, hors d'oeuvres....As the numbers get larger, it gets harder on my brain as I don't feel this age, like a grown up.

Plus, and I'm trying very very hard not to do this, reliving the awfulness each step of the way, but this is about the time last year when Hailey started limping.  Just before we got the bone cancer diagnosis.  Man, I cannot believe it's been almost a year already.  Sigh.

Hailey's half birthday is my birthday.  And back many years ago, she nearly died the day after my birthday which led to her Addison's Disease diagnosis.  Week of Becky is bittersweet, or confusing, or, I can't find the right word.


My super cool wise friend Rondi posted this great thing about grief recently.  Really excellent read, even for folks who may not be experiencing grief themselves.  Highly recommend it.  I cried.

But!  On happier notes.  Our good friend Jonathan will be in town all week which is fun.  And Jupiter Ascending finally opens on the 6th!  Watch for my name in the Chicago unit credits! And of course Sirens is now running on USA Network on Tuesday nights.  We'll see my folks for dinner and Mike is planning a nice out-to-dinner celebration too.

Fun will be had next week.  Fair warning, nothing will get done on the house I'm sure so I'll be missing you.  :(

The week after though, back into the swing of things for sure!  I feel anxious (in a good way) and fired up to get some larger projects in motion.  I recently read this about taking big risks with decorating choices which is something I unequivocally believe in.  See if it empowers you like it reinvigorated me.

Happy happy, all.  Mwah, thanks, and I'll see you soon!

*And mwah, thanks, the Joann Fabrics button kit is an affiliate link.