20 April 2018


You know that moment when you've been working on something big, and you suddenly stop and it finally sinks in that this is real... it's a real thing that's about to happen.  Yeah. That. 

We have a house! A duplex, actually.  Smaller than we're used to, but it's a great place, and the house we've been in for the past year and a half was really far too big for us.  Bulk day is on Monday, so we've been packing like crazy and purging furniture and small items ruthlessly.  Our motto right now is, "That's one less thing to move!"  It feels insane right now. I know everybody goes through this when they move, but it feels insane. I guess you know what I mean.  :)

After the 1st, I'll have pics of the new place for you, and likely a bunch of "hey, look how cute my shit that you've seen 10,000 times looks in this new room" shots, until I get actual projects going.  One of my favorite things in life is unpacking boxes and decorating a new space. 

I'm greatly looking forward to no longer being a live-in handywoman.  It was kinda fun, and interesting, until I broke my foot last year; since then I've just felt like the house was constantly pressing on me, looming over me to get things done and get caught up, and I'm tired of feeling that way.  That whole work-before-play thing has it's place, but it's all too easy to guilt yourself into doing nothing but work and forgetting to do the things that make you happy.  This new place needs nothing but decorating, and I'm SO excited to really get to know the new space without any attached responsibility.   

So, until the 1st, I doubt I'll have anything to post, but rest assured I'll be pretty much continuously covered in dust and tape and cardboard shavings. 

See y'all on the flip-side.

"Don't forget to pack me, Mama!" 

13 April 2018

The Craft Room, and Another Big Change

I started this post two months ago, when I began working on the craft room.  I got a little distracted along the way, but we'll deal with why in a minute.   As you can see below, this room is red as fuck.  It's a gorgeous color, but very dark, and there's a whole lot of it in this big master bedroom-turned-craft room.

I started by finishing out all the baseboards, as in the rest of the house, and by cleaning, priming, and re-painting all the doors and trim.  The walls themselves are taking 2 coats of primer to cover up the red enough that it can be painted over. 

One wall of the room is textured with sand mixed into the red paint, just like the walls in the master bathroom walls ; except that on this wall, a sort of strié technique has been used to shape the sand texture into vertical  ridges. Just like in the bathroom, I wondered why??

While priming around one of the windows on this wall, I figured it out:  this wall is covered in wallpaper!  At some point, it was painted over (and over, and over - there are at least three different colors on top of it), and textured with the sand and dragging technique.

Hunter Green and burgundy, with gold.  Oh yeah! I thought. This house was built in 1984! Of course it's got plaid wallpaper. LOL.

I found wallpaper under the vanity in the master bath, too (blue with gold fleurs-de-lis)  - I bet it's all over the bathroom, under that sand texture. I can't believe I didn't put two and two together before.

So, I continue to chug along on this room.  It's about half primed now, and all of the trim and doors are finished;  It just needs a wall primed, and then paint on the whole thing. And while I've been working on repainting, I've also been  PACKING.

The Frost Is Off the Ground 

We're moving again.  My landlady-friend is selling the house.  Sylvan and I were supposed to spend 2017 preparing for a move to Oregon, but we both had a horrible year full of injuries and medical issues, and didn't get our shit together.  So we're looking for another rental house here in Austin. that isn't scary and that will accept 2 dogs and 5 cats.  And, of course, we're packing, and getting rid of as much as we can to facilitate a move into a smaller space, and eventually, a long move across the country.

I'm not going to lie, I'm kind of terrified.   But I'm pretty big on the idea of focusing on the tasks and items you can control, instead of worrying about the ones you can't.  We'll find a place; and in the meantime, I'm looking forward to not being anyone's live-in-handywoman anymore.  Projects are fun, right up until they're jobs.  Also, if I never have to repair any plumbing again, it'll be too soon.

So I'll keep you all updated on the usual house projects, the house search, and eventually, the new place!

BONUS CAT:  not supposed to be napping in houseplants


05 March 2018

A Small Kitchen Project, and An Art

Q:  What do you do when your oven mitts are falling apart?

A:  Buy new ones.

Q: What do you do when your oven mitts are falling apart and you've been binge-watching Good Eats with your roommate all weekend?


MAKE YEAST PUPPETS!   If you're not familiar with these things from Alton Brown's show, here's a clip: 

Those things are just the best EVER. They're little gray socks with googly eyes, pipe cleaner "antlers", and big, red mouths - they pop up, belching and farting all over the kitchen, every time Alton talks about yeast producing gas to make your bread dough rise.  Yes, the pipe cleaner "antlers" on my mitts are a fire hazard when reaching into a hot oven, and they don't fit in the drawer where the hot mitts and towels are kept without being smashed.  These things are just for fun, for "whimsy" in the kitchen.  I bought a second set of mitts for actual use.  

They do crack me and my roommate up, though, and that's what's important. 


Meanwhile, though work on the craft room continues, I don't have anything to show you yet, and I'm still busy with the little, dirty details - and with finding the right size doors to replace the missing ones.  Ever take your car seats apart to fit a pair of doors into the car, and drive home with them literally pressed up against your face (ow), only to get home and realize you bought the wrong size?  Yeah.  *sad trombone*  

I did also manage to finish this drawing over the weekend, of a tulip I bought to decorate my new office at work: 

Anyway.  More actual house stuff soon, including, hopefully, some big craft room updates, and a BIG whole-house update.  Stay tuned.  You know, I mean, if you want to. You don't have to. It's your life. But I'll be sad if you don't. 


13 February 2018

Windowz & An Art

I'm hard at work sprucing up baseboards, doors, door trim, and doorknobs, all around the house.  I have no pics for you, because...baseboards, really?  Not exactly newsworthy. 

However, I took a moment over the weekend to finally get my sand collection together, which sounds like a weird euphemism, but is, in fact, about an actual sand collection: 

Lighting in here is terrible, sorry for the picture quality.  There's not much to decorate in the master bathroom's Poop Cave, but there was enough wall space for a couple of favorite Impressionists (Monet's Impression SunriseVan Gogh's Seascape near les Saintes Maries de la Mer as well as a small oil painting of a lighthouse on a cliff painted by none other than my roommate, back when she was in high school).  

The plants hanging up there are a Senecio ("String of Bananas") and some sort of weird fern I found at Blowe's with no label.  Both puny-looking and in desperate need of more water and less cold (like me in the winter).  

I don't know why I collect sand, that's just the way it is.  Initially I collected it every-sandy-where I went, to fill my incense burners;  but somewhere along the way I developed a love of just collecting sand in general.  Sort of an, "I buried my feet in this stuff, remember?"  (except for the sand people bring to me. I'm that friend who answers, "I'm going to Tahiti, want any souvenirs?" with BRING ME SAND!!!)  

Left to right:  

1. Hawaii, brought to me by a friend from her vacation.
2.  Costa Rica, also friend/vacation
3.  Cannon Beach, Oregon, from my trip there last August.
4.  Black sand from Hawaii, which is illegal to collect but is sold in these tiny bottles there. Friend/ vacation.
5.  Cozumel, Mexico, from my Caribbean cruise in 2012.   

# 1 and 5 need better jars, but, I like having them all displayed, finally.  There are two more around here somewhere, I think, I just don't know where.  

It's not much, but it pleases me. 

Bonus stuff: I made an art! 

I like to draw and paint, as you may have noticed in my last post when I made a little laptop table to draw on. I mostly just diddle around with coloring or sketching flowers and things, but I also like to copy some of my favorite paintings for practice and to explore translating images from one medium to another.  

This is a colored pencil version I did of Van Gogh's The Olive Trees  It was SO much fun. 

I measured completely wrong and had to tack on an extra page to get the paper sized right - it was either that or erase a LOT of work, which I wasn't willing to do, hehe.  Fun times. 

When next we meet, I hope to have some actual progress on the craft room to show you.  Let's see if I actually do. 


30 January 2018

A Small Project With a Huge Impact

an Ikea Hack in the making
About a billion years ago (2015?) I purchased a SVARTÅSEN laptop table from Ikea.  It was awesome!  A little personal workspace - for my laptop, or my art, my nails, whatever I needed.

Problem is, moving into the house was so hectic, that this little thing got left outside, forgotten for several weeks, in the rain.  No big deal, though, right?  The top is plastic.

Except it turns out it wasn't plastic - it was laminated fiberboard, as I discovered upon turning this thing over to find a big, rotten mess.  Oops. 

Not to worry:  I had a couple of small, wide boards left over from the built-in bookshelf project, and one of them just happened to be exactly as wide and deep as the Ikea Svartasen top.  I didn't even bother with copying the shape, I just used the entire board, in the hopes that the extra weight wouldn't unbalance the table (it doesn't) and that the new corners would give me more room to work (they do). 

(pay no attention to the hideous denim couch)

Here's the "new table", after I sanded, stained, and sealed the board, and screwed it onto the existing base. 

I swapped the coffee table for a smaller one, too, and between these two tables taking up far less space than before, there's plenty of room for my elderly doggo, Shelly, to walk around, and lay down next to me on the floor. 

The big rectangle is SO much better to work on than the little roundy-triangle shape the table came with!  It feels humongous, and it's nice to be able to spread out while I'm working. 

The little clip-on LED task light from Ikea  that's clamped to the table is REALLY BRIGHT, so I made a little lampshade out of a scrap of printer paper, to keep the light on my work and not in my eyes. It looks silly, but it works!

Cyclamen, 1-28-18

Just in case anyone's curious, this is the drawing on the table in the sketchbook on the table.  The little wonky leaf cracks me up - I was trying to remember how the patterns go without looking at the actual plant, and failed miserably.  I love mistakes like this, though; I love seeing them in old sketchbooks, and seeing how far I've come from those old drawings.

I have a weird urge to paint something cool on the surface of my "new" table.  I'll let you know if I do.

More soon!

23 January 2018

Because Poe Wrote on Both*

Another "Finally!" project is complete.  As much as I'd had an enormous Whirlwind of Projects! planned for my holiday break, I ended up sick the entire time and got nothing done (unless you count sitting around binge-watching episodes of The West Wing, at which I excelled).  Before I broke my foot in May 2017. I did two things:  I bought a new bike, and I started refinishing two desks. This is one of them, finally finished, ten months later.

This thing started life as a an unfinished, loosely Mission-style, sofa table. My roommate bought it roughly a thousand years ago, stained it herself, and used it for book and cat storage for many years, before deciding she wanted to use it as a writing table. A blue writing table.

The first task, then, was to make sure the thing was tall enough for her to sit at with an office chair.  It wasn't, but only by an inch:  four slices of a 2x2" stick, my jigsaw and hand planer, some sandpaper, and putty took care of that:

Next was to remove the drawer hardware, mostly-sand the whole thing down, and hit it with some Liquid Sander, which is still one of my favorite substances on the planet:

ready to prime! 

Liquid Sander is a deglosser - essentially a very mild stripper, that breaks down the outermost layer of finish on a piece - clearcoat, stain, paint, whatever.  It's meant to take the place of sanding;  I usually sand a piece first, to break up the clearcoat on the piece, before using the deglosser, so that it breaks down more of the outer layer of clearcoat/stain, and is better able to take primer and paint.

Just don't use it without gloves, unless you like your skin peeling off for the next two days.  Especially don't use it without gloves when you're using red shop rags to wipe it on, or you'll turn your fingers red:


Since I suck at remembering to take "before" pictures, I used MS Paint to put the Mission side rails and drawer knobs back on for you, LOL:

This project leveled up in the fun department when I realized
that I could just KICK those side rails out.  BLAM! Hee.

First coat of primer: 

I put another coat of primer over the first, then painted it.  The paint was mixed from a remnant of SW's "Tradewinds" (which is what's on the walls), a little bit of a midnight blue to mute the color without graying it out, and a touch of orange to warm it up just enough to bring it into a "dusky" blue without turning it green. It took a bit of work to get it just right; but I love this shade of pale turquoise - a bit darker, and a lot greener/warmer than the wall color. 

(this looks crammed into a corner because of the angle of the
photo; but there's actually a good six feet of space back there) 

Roomie hasn't found the perfect drawer knobs just yet, so I threw some cheap little brass-finish Ikea knobs on it for the time being:  

(I told you everything I own is blue)

Now my roomie has a dedicated space in the house to work on her novels, when she doesn't feel like going out to a coffee shop to write.  


cat tax

*The answer to "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" in case you've ever wondered. 

08 January 2018

Accessibility Design for Doggos

The time has come, my furry friend, to put you up on blocks.

No wait, scratch that.

This is Shelly! 

Shelly is 15 (approx. 90 in human years, for a doge her weight/age/breed).  She old.  And her poor joints - especially her knees - have been aching her something fierce this past year.  At her vet's urging, she went on a diet about a month ago, and began taking supplements for her joints.  It's helped quite a bit already; but the step down from the back door into the patio area was still really difficult for her.  Watching my girl try and try and try, and shake, and stumble, was just too heart-breaking!

So, a few weeks ago, I rounded up some scraps from the garage - a leftover shelf board from the built-in shelf project and a couple of short 2x4s - and made my poor doge a handicap ramp.  It's a very simple design - just a board on top of a 2x4 with another 2x4 under the middle for support.  Here's my very detailed scale diagram, which I made during the planning process:

Both of the doges were vv heckin confuse:


After many minutes of tentative tries, first with one foot, then another - and Daisy finally just leaping over the thing - I realized that they were confused because the smooth wood was too slippery.  I dropped a soft bathmat onto it (with a non-slip backing), and that solved the problem.  It took Shelldog a couple of days to get used to it; now she trots up and down the ramp with ease.

bathmat is...bathmatty.

Although this works great for the dogs, I've since discovered that the ramp is WAY too short to be safe for humans.  The angle is far too steep.  For now, it works for Shelly, and that was the point.  Sometime before the warmer weather shows up, though, I'd like to replace the ramp with a much longer one, with a proper non-skid surface on top, so that neither Shelly nor I ends up on our face on the ground.

More soon!

21 December 2017

Master Bathroom

Another room in the "Finally!!" category!  While on the surface this was just a re-paint job, this project involved the following challenges:

  • sanding uneven wall texture to even it out
  • finishing a ceiling that was stuck up by remodelers years ago but never completed
  • adjusting two light fixtures that were hanging all sideways
  • scraping, patching, caulking, sealing, priming, and painting baseboards and door trim
  • cleaning doors and walls before priming and painting
  • sanding and smoothing out cabinet doors which had built-up stenciled paint all over them
  • patching walls where decals were removed, which ripped huge holes in the paint underneath
  • glitter.  so much glitter.  glitter everywhere. 

First of all, this room is shaped really weirdly, and it's really hard to photograph!  

This is a fairly decent representation of the new wall color, though, and shows part of what my roomie and I call The Poop Cave.  

Still Life w/ Ladder & Wonky Art, 2017

The Poop Cave even has a window, so your neighbors can watch you poop!  Okay, not really - the glass is frosted, and there's a giant tree right outside.  

I've debated putting up a wee curtain here, but I think I'll cover the whole thing in hanging plants.  

Art + towel rack =   o_O

Look, Nan: flip-flops!

I'm not sure what to call the wall color.  I mixed it using Sherwin Williams' "Tradewinds" and Behr's "Fresh Thyme Green."  The result came out almost identical to SW's "Comfort Gray" (which is green!), except it's more on the minty side. 

It's actually precisely the same color as Baskin Robbins' Daiquiri Ice sherbet/sorbet, which pleases me to an unusual degree. 

Now for the BEFORE pictures! 

As always, I forgot to take before pictures, so these are mid-project.  

This is...purple as fuck.  The previous painter mixed sand into the purple paint to create a sandy texture, and then went over the walls with gold glitter. The sand was a neat effect - I'd seen the idea on tv, and always wondered how it felt in real life. 

You can also see the 1984 shell-sink molded vanity in a lovely shade of "was this beige once??"  It's super yellowy, and as far as I can tell, it's supposed to be (no amount of cleaning/bleaching/ scrubbing/scraping has changed it).  

I sanded every inch of these walls before cleaning and priming, to knock back some of the over-textured areas (I literally cut my elbow on the wall once, I'm not kidding) and balance them out a bit with the bare spots.  I could have scraped the walls completely clean and re-textured them from scratch, but...nuh-uh.  Do not want. So my entire life was covered in purple dust with gold glitter in it for like a week. 

The Poop Cave cabinet doors had been stenciled with silver acrylic paint.  It was a pretty effect, but the cabinets needed cleaning and repair, and updating.  I sanded the doors smooth to knock down the edges of the stenciling, and just painted over it.  

I also removed the knobs and patched the holes.  Again - neat effect having them in the center of the doors, but it was way too high to reach comfortably. 

This is what I mean by a weirdly-shaped bathroom.  If I remember correctly, it was actually a huge rectangle, once - if you imagine away the closets and take the walls back into a more regular shape, and add a tub and separate shower.  At one point, the room was remodeled, and the tub and shower were replaced with a single, HUGE, walk-in shower with a bench, and these two closets.  It's actually a fantastic space to use, as odd as it seems.  I love having a bathroom large enough to walk around in; and the closet duo means that we have a ridiculous amount of space in which to store various linens and craft stuff (the master bedroom is our craft room, just like at the old house).  

The only thing I don't like is where the bathroom door and the Poop Cave doors meet up. That's just a recipe for smacking yourself in the face, that is. It may not be everybody's first choice, but, I took the door off the Poop Cave.  It's safer, door-smacking-wise, and lets more light into the bathroom from the window during the day. 

I love the way this color looks with both the silver fixtures and brushed-gold frames and accessories.  

And the mirror, apparently, since I re-did this room like three weeks ago and still haven't wiped off that paint smear.  

The floor tile (and shower tile) is a warm, yellow-beige, just like the vanity.  

The only other consideration I bothered with in mixing the color was that it be something that coordinated with my roommate's gorgeous cotton shower curtain from World Market.  We both love the way this works. 

The only thing I don't have a pic of (because my phone just *cannot* for some reason) is the ceiling.  Yeah, it's just white.  But when this room was remodeled umpteen years ago, the ceiling was never finished. Not all the seams were taped, the joint between the ceiling boards and the wall boards wasn't sealed, and there were still grease-pen markings all over the ceiling from the workers who cut and installed it - arrows and measurements and such.  The bathroom itself took me about three days, but one of those days was just the ceiling:  cleaning, sealing, taping & floating, caulking, priming, painting.  I used to get so MAD while I was taking a shower, looking up at those measurements. Now it's fresh and white and smooth.  Ahhhh. 

There are plenty more things, both done and yet to do.  I'm hoping over the weekend that I can at least post about a couple of smaller projects I've been working on, if not have a new, huge one to show you (I have five days off, after all).  

IN the meantime, happy holidays, if holidays are your thing. 

13 November 2017

Finally: The Kitchen

Finally, a post!  Hi, I'm Laura, and it has been 152 days since my last post. Life got a little weird there for a while, and I sure as heck wasn't working on the house.  But I'm back at it, and since (a) people always congregate in kitchen at parties, and (b) my roommate's 40th birthday party is this coming weekend, I painted the kitchen*:

Here's the "breakfast nook" side of the kitchen, after painting.  The color is Glidden's "Fresh Thyme Green," matched to a broken shard of a beloved bowl, which served as the color inspiration.

Here's the old color - kind of a baby-duck-yellow, which is pretty, but I'm not a yellow person at all.

The color was old, as well - the walls were covered in weird little scrapes and mars, years of grime and spatters, and over two dozen various holes and gouges in the walls that had to be filled.

The tile guys never finished out the baseboards in the house when they installed them, either; so every room in this house has started with filling and caulking in all the baseboards and trim, and priming and painting it all, too.

There was also this little section of a gold/ochre colored paint on one side of the kitchen window.


Eventually, I need to clean and repaint the soffits above the kitchen cabinets, too. I'd remove them entirely and open up the room, but the soffits above the stove and sink contain pipes!  Oh, well.

I absolutely love this color.  All of our kitchen accessories were already this color, so just by changing the wall color, the entire room is transformed and brought together.  I also LOVE the way it looks with all the different wood tones in the room.

This is Bob.  Bob almost got squished because I thought he was a drop of paint.

My favorite view of the kitchen:  The coffee bar on a metal baker's rack, and the Ikea cabinet given to me by a friend a couple of years ago (I traded her for my old cabinet, actually, and we're both better off!).

* I wavered, for a while, over whether to tackle the kitchen or the master bathroom first.  I opted for the kitchen, since I know people will be cycling through it all evening.  But then the toilet in the guest bath broke.  I had to order a specialty part from The Internet, which was supposed to arrive last week, but now isn't going to show up until the day before the party.  Can I get it fixed in time, or will our guests have to use the ugly, cramped, dingy master bathroom in the crowded, crappy master bedroom (craft room) instead? 

14 June 2017

Under Construction

Well, it's been three months - I suppose I should update this thing and let you all know where the heck I've been.

I broke my foot! I was out on a bike ride with a friend, and when the group stopped to take a photo together, I stepped in a hole and rolled my foot upside-down, which broke two bones in my foot and strained the ligament that wraps around them both (the sound it made...eeugh).  I've been grounded since then, strapped into a velcro SpaceBoot, and pretty much unable to do anything besides lay around with my leg propped up.

The upside is that I have a really cool knee scooter to wheel around on, and while it's not my bike, it sure is fun.  It's confusing, a bit - it feels kind of like a bike, and kind of like a skateboard.  My body says, "Do I bunny hop over that extension cord on the floor, or ollie it?"  and my brain says, "GIRL."

Image result for no gif

The silver lining here is that I'm finally starting to get around a lot better.  In three weeks I get to trade my SpaceBoot for a flexible brace, start physical therapy, and start walking again.  I may be able to get back on my bike by the end of July. 

Meanwhile, I'm contemplating resuming work on the pair of desks I started in March.  The smaller one, the one I'm refinishing, needs some alterations that I can't do yet, because I can't stand up at the workbench for long enough yet.  But the corner desk, at this stage, is still just sitting down and stripping and sanding and stripping and sanding.  So we'll see how that all goes. 

My brand-new bike, my very first actual road bike, which I
haven't ridden since I broke my foot.  I'm counting the days.