Friday, February 26, 2010

End of the quarter madness

Posting will be light around here for the next couple of weeks as I wrap up the quarter, get my term papers written, and try with all my might to finish my master's thesis so it won't be hanging over my head anymore. I'm about 20-25 pages away from being done with the thesis, which theoretically means I could write two pages a day for the next two weeks and be more than done. In practice, however, I am still trying to think through some of the things I am writing and I don't feel ready to commit to one particular reading yet. Or maybe I am just using that as an excuse because I don't want to work on the project. In any case, I can't quite justify spending too much time with the CB for a bit until I get some of this other stuff done.

To tide you over, this is what I spent many hours earlier this month working on:

Nearly done sanding! There are some places that are stained from water damage that chemically adhered the foam carpet backing to the wood and almost petrified the wood, but I think when I stain the whole floor it will even those spots out somewhat and, anyway, who wants a totally perfect floor? The rest of the CB has character - the floor might as well, too.

The quick run-down on the floor is:

1.) First weekend I owned the house Paul and I rented a rotary sander and went over every inch of the floor about a million times. I think we probably spent about 17 hours on this step. It was brutal.

2.) I made good friends with the belt sander and palm sander as I went around the edges of the floor and got all the places the rotary sander couldn't reach as well as going over some tough spots on the floor after we returned the sander. I'm estimating about 12 hours of this so far (I still need to get a few more spots around the edges of the room and also around the heater grate in the floor).

3.) I borrowed some flat, metal scrapers from Amy's dad Bob and have been going over every join in the floor scraping the edges of the boards that are a little lower where it's hard for the belt sander to reach. Probably 8 hours of this so far.

So I'm estimating the grand total so far to be around 37 hours of sanding. On one hand it doesn't sound like that much, but on the other hand, I spent at least 20 hours of that on my hands and knees on a hardwood floor, so it's not insignificant, I don't think. I should be able to finish up the last of the sanding in about two or three hours, then it'll be time to clean the floors really well so there's no dust and then we can stain. The stain only needs about six hours to dry before we can seal it, so that will be a relatively easy weekend project. The sealer has to cure for a week or so before I can put furniture in, and then it'll be moving day. I'm a bit behind schedule for moving (it'll probably be more like the end of March, so not mid-February as I had hoped), but school is important, much as I'd like to forget about it and only work on my house until it's done.

Still, I'm so close I can almost taste it...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Done with the cold

I'm super ready to be done with the cold and the snow. I put in my first seed and plant order on Friday, and I have more to make in the next couple of weeks. We've now reached the part of winter when I don't have my birthday to look forward to anymore (it was last Thursday - more on that soon) and I just want it to be warm so I can play in the garden and coax little, tiny seeds into being something I can make dinner from someday. This growing season will be even more exciting, because in addition to my regular garden (at the house I live in now), I have big plans for the CB which will include both pretty, floral plantings and lots and lots of edibles. It's going to be farmer's market central around here come August and September.

Last year's veggie garden around August. From left to right: tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and tabasco peppers (the tall ones in the back), jalapeno peppers, green and wax beans, carrots, and some onions and garlic around the whole thing to keep the rabbits out. I also had a container garden last year with herbs and some stray jalapenos.

My hand looks so tan compared to my winter-white skin!

Ok, spring, I'm ready whenever you are.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New friends!

So it took a bit longer than I anticipated, but Faith's swappity swap package finally made its way to her mailbox in faraway Washington. It arrived late because my house (and more importantly, my street) looked like this the day it was supposed to be mailed:

I was driving my mom's PT Cruiser that day and it's just not made for driving in that much snow. Here's what had built up in Eric's and Ben's trucks* overnight:

We've actually had about six more inches of snow since these pictures were taken, but these little pretties finally made it to the West Coast as a belated Valentine's present:

Here's Faith's very flattering post on their arrival. They say the best gifts are the ones you would be happy to receive yourself, so I tried to keep that in mind as I was putting it together. Amanda, our bold and intrepid swap organizer, did a good job matching us up, since evidently we're two peas in a pod!

And speaking of other neat new friends, I have been perusing Kersten's blog A Grain A Day since she was my swap partner and made the lovely apron and eye pillow that I have been putting to good use this past week. I'm always interested in learning more about healthy living and eating (although the red velvet whoopie pies** I made last night suggest that I don't necessarily always put what I know into practice. But moving on...), so I'm excited to read up on her blog and learn more about what exactly a macrobiotic diet entails and what the benefits are. If it means giving up cheese I probably could not make it as a macrobiotist***, but I'm always game to learn something. Thanks again, Kersten!

* Eric and Ben are my brother and cousin. They're my current housemates, although once I move into the CB we'll still be neighbors, since the CB is right next door to the house I currently live in. Had I mentioned that? At least it should make moving easy. Or it would if we didn't have 18" of snow on the ground....
** fantastic recipe from littlebrownpen, although I think next time I'll only use about a half a stick of butter in the filling instead of a whole stick. I know - it makes me shudder a little, too, but oh man, are they good.
*** I just made that word up. I'm not sure what one calls a person who eats a macrobiotic diet, but if I learn the answer from Kersten's blog, I'll be sure to share.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The antedote to Builder's Beige

We finally had a nice, sunny day (on Sunday, appropriately enough), so I toted my camera over to the CB for some quick glamour shots of the new paint in the bedroom and bathroom. (I do not have mad photography skillz, so these shots are perhaps less glamourous than they might be, but you'll get the idea). I painted the bedroom Olympic Plantation Moss and the bathroom Olympic Sprig of Ivy. After some initial nerves while waiting for the paint to dry (it went on an awful, muddy poo-green/grey color) I really love how the rooms turned out. Having the bedroom a different color changed the feel of the whole house - as if I meant for the front room to be beige. The bedroom is a lovely light green-grey that changes with the different light throughout the day. The bathroom is a darker shade of the same color that feels dramatic against the bright white of the cabinet and curtains. I'm not quitting my day job to go into interior decorating anytime soon, but if I did, I would probably paint every client's house Plantation Moss and Sprig of Ivy. Even the names are romantic.

Afternoon light streaming in the front room windows and the bedroom window.

The bathroom from the bedroom. I couldn't do justice to the color of the bedroom - it's less grey than this in person and more of a soft, pretty green. You can see the contrast between the bedroom and bathroom colors here, though.

I had to cut down the shower curtain to make it fit the opening since the shower goes back behind the sink wall a bit, so I sewed a curtain for the window out of the excess.

Now all I need is a crown to hang on the wall over the toilet and my throne room will be complete.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Swappity Swap!

I participated this year in the second annual Valentine's Day Swappity Swap hosted by Amanda of first milk. My swap partner was Kersten*, and these are the lovelies I received in the mail earlier this week:

I put the pretty little apron to good use yesterday making scones - one batch of cranberry-orange and another of dark chocolate-walnut-orange zest.

For my part of the swap, I sent a little package winging its way across the country to Faith of Poppycock and Sunshine. I'm not going to post pictures of what I sent yet, since I am not sure whether it has arrived,** but I had a great time participating. Thanks so much for organizing it, Amanda!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends!

* Kersten - I don't have your blog address! I will link to it if you send it to me.
** I was in the thick of Snowpocalypse 2010 on Saturday and couldn't get out of my driveway in time to get to the post office on Saturday when the packages were meant to be mailed. If the USPS is true to their word then my little package should have arrived on the West Coast yesterday, but the mail seems to me to be more art than science. Here's hoping....

Monday, February 8, 2010

Let there be light!

Now that the camera-to-computer situation is worked out, I can finally post pictures of the fancy new lights that now illuminate the CB thanks to my lovely boyfriend-the-electrician. So without further ado:

I decided that I wanted five can lights in the front room, so we figured out about where they should go and drilled test holes into the attic to make sure there was enough room between the beams to install them. My job was to hold a long drill bit up through the hole so Paul could see it in the attic from the ladder. (I balanced it on a roll of duct tape because I wasn't quite tall enough to get it above the beams otherwise). There were some allegations that he was doing all the work while I lounged around holding the walls up. The allegations were deemed false.*

See the ugly ceiling fan? That had to go. I didn't take pictures of its removal since I had to catch the thing when Paul unattached it from the ceiling (further proving that I did not stand around watching him work all weekend), but getting it down was pretty straightforward. And good riddance.

The funny (or horrifying, depending on how hard you think about it) thing about the ceiling fan was that it was wired with an old extension cord cut apart and run across the tops of the beams in the attic. The extension cord was one that didn't have a ground wire, so they conscientiously ran a separate ground wire along with it (the green wire in Paul's hand). My personal electrician was not amused.


He was even less amused when we saw the junction box where they all tied in.

(Hint for the non-electricians: they're not supposed to all be hanging out and wrapped with tape like that. Thanks to Paul, they're all now properly capped and covered. He's handy like that.)

The other j-box was like that, too.

After we disconnected and got rid of the nasty fan, it was time to cut holes in the ceiling for the can lights. (At this point there may have been some truth to Paul's assertion that I was standing around watching him work, but I maintain that I was offering moral support. That's important, too. Also, I was singing loudly to Bon Jovi to encourage him in his pursuits. So I was helping.)

As we were doing this, we discovered the walls and ceiling are made up of a layer of drywall, a layer of stoneboard and a skimcoat of plaster. I didn't take a picture of what that did to Paul's jab saw, but suffice it to say it's not as sharp as it used to be. In fact, when he went to poke the saw through the ceiling to cut the first hole it just bent into a "U". I was amused. After that he drilled a starter hole, but now I owe him a new drill bit as well as a new jab saw. At least I know the walls won't cave in anytime soon....

"Stop giggling! It's not funny!"
(I was apparently too amused to get my finger out of the way of these shots. My camerawork suffers when I'm laughing so hard it makes my abs hurt).

"Really - IT'S NOT FUNNY."

I didn't take pictures of Paul running the wires and connecting the lights because I was too busy running up and down the rickety old ladder bringing tools and parts up to the attic, but only a little blood, sweat and tears later, we had five lovely can lights up in the front room.

This picture was taken sans-trim kits because I still needed to patch the edges where the plaster chipped and touch up the paint, but still - aren't they pretty?

The bedroom light was super easy compared to the can lights. It was a splurge, since Paul got the can lights for a song as a return at the Lowes near him, but I love it.**

Pretty, pretty, pretty.

No more dark, gloomy house for me!

Coming soon: paintingpalooza.

* It being my castle, I get to be queen, judge, and final arbiter of all disputes.
** In fact, the bedroom fixture cost more than twice what all the can lights and the trim kit did, but that's mostly because we got the can lights for stupid cheap.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Design Philosophy, or what my house wants to be when it grows up

One of the things I've been having the most fun with since I bought the CB (... let's be honest - even well before I bought the CB) is scouring the internet for inspiration pictures to help me design my dream house. I love natural colors*, light, airy rooms and clean lines. These pictures capture some of what I hope to bring to my house in the coming months.

I can't get enough of mid-century design right now. Hello, bandwagon, I'm here, but I do like the straight lines juxtaposed with the egg-shaped lamp and the round footstool and curvy chair.

(I stupidly did not make a note of where I found this image - if anyone knows, please tell me and I will link to the site. I suspect it's from Design*Sponge or Apartment Therapy.)

I also love rustic fabrics and textures with more classic pieces. Stay tuned for my burlap Roman shades for the front room, coming soon.

(via Design*Sponge)

My new kitchen is not this big, but I love pretty much everything about this one.

(also via Design*Sponge)

I'm planning a breakfast nook something like this for the corner of the front room nearest the kitchen. How great are the topiaries?

(Design*Sponge. Are we seeing a pattern here?)

Check out the powder room on the left - I'm digging a darker color in the bathroom set off with bright, bright white.

(via loving living small)

This is just neat. Again with the bold color and bright white. (I didn't go quite so all-out with my bedroom wall color, but I do have white butterfly wall decals from PopWall that I will be graphic-ing things up with a bit.

(also via loving living small)

I named both this and the previous picture "airy bedroom" in my "house and garden inspiration" folder. Don't you just want to move in and curl up with a good book? I do.

(via Apartment Therapy)

So there you have it. I will be on a pretty tight budget for the foreseeable future, so the goal will be to decorate a pretty, airy, design-conscious house on a budget.

Ready, set, go.

*Bright, bright green is a natural color. I have philodendron plants to prove it.


The lack of pictures continues for a while, since I made a special trip to one of the big box stores (hint: rhymes with pest fry), brought my camera with me and checked with one of the guys there to make sure the cord I was getting to connect the camera to the computer was the right one. On bringing it home and risking my fingers on the lethal plastic packaging, it's not. So, irritatingly enough, it will have to be returned (and is likely subject to a restocking fee... grr) and the search will continue for the proper camera cord.

In the meantime, an update (albeit a less exciting one than if it included pictures):

*Bathroom is painted a lovely darkish green/grey (Olympic's "Sprig of Ivy": D68-3). Shower curtain has been cut to fit and I made the remnant into a cute little curtain for the window. Yet to be done: Paint the floor (it's wood, but too damaged to bother cleaning up and staining like the rest of the house), clean the tub and caulk thoroughly and re-caulk it for a fresher look.

*Bedroom is painted one shade lighter than the bathroom (Olympic's "Plantation Moss": D68-2). It looks like a light green during the day and a very soothing grey in artificial light. Love, love, love. Yet to be done: stain floor, hang curtains.

*Front room can lights are up, but I haven't installed the trim kits. Yet to be done: trim kits, stain and seal floors, make curtains and hang them.

*Kitchen is done except for laying the linoleum, which I plan to do this week before I stain the wood floors, since I'll need to put the fridge and stove in the front room to lay the lino.

Having the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen painted and having proper lighting is making the CB feel a lot more like mine. It's starting seem like a real house!