25 May 2018

A Completed Hovercraft

Well, it took a little over 3 weeks, but the aforementioned indoor construction site is now a bathroom again,  complete with functional, brand-new shower.  You saw the gaping hole and wall innards;  here's what the new shower looks like:

I know, I know, you know what a shower looks like.  But seriously.

More blue stuff, yay!

This is the smallest bathroom I've had since like 2003.  It's plenty big enough to move around in; but it's kind of a bitch to photograph.

They left the cute little tile fixtures, yay!  I have to say, I wasn't all that excited about the sort of pale-sand-colored wall tile at first, but the more I live with it, the more I kind of love it.

What's Next? 

The living room, which means that the garage is actually next.  When we moved in, everybody just threw things into the garage at random, so the whole space is clogged, and there's no room to set up my little workshop yet.   There are a couple of boxes of things in the living room that need to go into the garage, but there's nowhere to put them. And there are a couple of pieces of furniture in the living room that need to be repaired and/or altered, but, again, no workshop yet. 

I know what I'll be doing this entire upcoming three-day weekend. 

24 May 2018

Putting Together Ikea Furniture

Did you know the 79" Ikea BILLY bookcase weighs 80lb?

My right shoulder sure does.

Three hours.  It took me three hours to put together three of these bookcases.

But my roommate made me this nifty cardboard Bracelet of Power to give the strength to go on.


Oh, and we also ended up with this nifty wall o' books, built by me and stocked by my roommate, who would like you to know that the books aren't organized, but they will be soon.

I think in all there were 22 boxes of books! Next time you move, scavenge the recycle dumpster behind your local liquor store. Liquor bottle cartons are perfect for lots of small but heavy things, like books and DVDs.

There's a lot more to do in the new place, but at least the "library" is handled, and the floor space all those boxes of books were taking up is cleared.  Onward!

17 May 2018

Leafy Goodness

Work on the bathroom continues.  Thankfully, it's been operational for a few days now, and we're just waiting for the crew to come back towards the end of this week to finish the cosmetic details (trim, wall texture, paint).

Meanwhile, I thought I'd show off my favorite spot in the house:  the back patio.  It's nothing fancy, it's just relaxing, pretty, and unbelievably comfortable. 

Just enough shade, just enough light, and lots of turquoise and green.

I literally dumped all of my houseplants out here when we moved, since there wasn't enough space near the windows inside.

It was accidental, but the result is a soft, green patio space I LOVE to relax in in the evenings.

Daisy says hi.

I may hang one or two of the plants, just to keep the entire patio from happening on the ground.  Maybe a bell. 

Definitely some string lights. 

Further down the side yard (I promise I wasn't just backing down the property with a camera in hand, lol), it's...less attractive.  

Definitely in need of some hose management.  

Other than that...?  I haven't had a chance to even think about it yet. 

Turn and face the other way, and there's the yard. 

Shaded, green, sheltered, and quiet. 

The backyard is actually shaped like this, which is weird.  

But it's tiny, so, easy to mow.  (I mean, I don't have to mow it, but I imagine it's easy to do). 

The other day it rained, and this little green fox-face appeared in the algae on the wood of the fence near the patio area.  Hee! 

I was worried that my indoor plants wouldn't survive the transition to the patio, but not only have they all come through like champs, some are even thriving out there - including this wee Jade plant, which came completely out of its pot and was kicking around the floor of my car all afternoon, and which I just shoved back into the dirt with my thumb.  Just a few days later, and it's totally happy.  Yay! 

That's all the patio I've got for now; I'll be back soon with house pics, and maybe updates to the patio.  See ya! 

07 May 2018

My Hovercraft Is Full of Construction Workers

Well, the move is complete.  Mostly. 95% of our stuff is at the new place, excepting only an empty aquarium and some tools from the garage.

The new house is lovely, albeit packed to the rafters with our stuff, and covered in concrete dust and huge pieces of cardboard taped to the floor.

Wait, what? 

It seems the drain line and P-trap under the bathtub, being 53 years old, rusted through at some point and collapsed, leaking into the ground below the foundation, and into the walls.  This was discovered by the clean-up crew the day before we moved in, who thought it was clogged until they sent a snake-o-scope (whatever it's called) down the drain to check it out and discovered that, well, it was pretty much fucked under there.

Not to worry!  Our new landlady and her awesome crew are ON IT, and it's being repaired as quickly as possible.  Over the weekend as we moved our things in, contractors and crew were demo-ing the old tub and shower enclosure, removing the rusted pipes and trap, removed water-damaged wooden framing, and replaced it with new wood.  The wet and rotting wood attracted termites at some point.  They're gone now, but just in case, there's a termite guy coming in a few days, after which the new plumbing will go in, and then a new tile shower surround.  Sylvan and I've been driving 20 miles south across the city to shower at the old house, which is inconvenient, but it's only for a few more days.

So, for lack of "omg isn't my new house beautiful" pictures, I give you:

My current shower, or rather, some of it.

1.  Termite-eaten wood

2.  Entrance to the World of Og

The original (1965) iron tub.  Such a shame.

Original vanity cabinet and faucet.  The sink I think was replaced sometime in the 80s, and the paper holder...who even knows.

(The dirt is new).


I think toothbrushes must've been much smaller 53 years ago.

I haven't seen a towel rack like this since the actual 80s.  SO CUTE.

I have some paste stuff that makes my car's headlights clear and sparkly.  I've been wondering if that stuff would work on these things.  Hm.

You know what the best part of all this is?  I don't have to fix ANYTHING.  MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!

Well, that's all for now.  Pics of the finished bathroom, and of the rest of the house, will be coming soon.  For now, I leave you with this cat, who is just making himself at home and doesn't seem to care that nothing is unpacked and put away yet:

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.