20 January 2017

More Blue Things

I'd been sort of half-assedly keeping an eye out for an affordable, blue rug for my room for years, but never found one that really caught my eye (that wasn't also ridiculously expensive). 

I finally found the right one last weekend at Target, when I wasn't even looking for rugs (isn't that the way it always happens?)  Hooray!  It's this one, if you're curious.

At 5x7', it doesn't cover much of the floor under the bed, but that's fine by me - it covers exactly the areas that I walk on, which is all I needed. 

A worn-looking pattern on a brand-new, fluffy, soft rug is a bit silly, I think, but I love it anyway.  And I adore the colors. 

I don't know how much Daisy understands about cameras and photography, but she sure gets RIGHT in front of me every time I whip it out.  Today, she would like you to know that she has an itch.  Dork dog.

03 January 2017

A New History of Fireplaces

For someone who almost never burns a fire, I sure talk about my fireplace a lot.  The one in the old house went through about 7 transformations over the 12 years that I lived there;  the new house's fireplace recently got it's first (and probably only, tbh) makeover.

New Year's resolution: guitars in every photo (not really)

I actually did the work early in November, while my roommate was out of town visiting her family. I primed and painted the wooden footer pieces to blend in with the brick (not that they're fooling anyone, but I like the way the focus is now on the posts, instead of the odd shapes on the hearth). 

I cleaned and re-painted the brick; and cleaned up the wooden mantel.  I debated whether to actually refinish it - it's not my favorite color, but it matches some of the other wood pieces in the room; and the few white paint splatters on the wood (leftover from its original white paint job) came out with a Magic Eraser.

Did you know the active ingredient in those things in paint stripper? Wear gloves when you use them, please.  Magic can burn your skin.

This is what it looked like before, complete with original floor and wall color.

The posts and the woodwork behind them were painted sort of an admiral-blue.  It was a nice color, but I wanted something a bit more serious. 


02 January 2017

Blue Paint Makes Everything Better

Last weekend, while everyone else was doing the holiday thing, I painted the living room. And the dining room. And two hallways. And the entryway.

Technically, I did more than just paint.  In what ended up being almost exactly 24 hours of work, spread over three days, I...:
  • filled nail holes and caulked in the new baseboards, which were installed by the tile guys but not finished (why? no clue)
  • primed the baseboards 
  • primed the walls, from floor to ceiling, including the 12' vault in the living room
  • cut and installed cleats in the shelfy nook in the living room
  • painted the walls in the aforementioned spaces
  • built shelves for the shelfy nook
I think I must've moved nearly every piece of furniture I own.  Some of that stuff is HEAVY.  Also, I'm not finished yet.  While I built shelves for the nook, I still have to sand and stain them.  So I'll have a shelfy nook update for you soon.  In the meantime, here are a couple of random shots of the other areas I painted:

This is one end of the living room, and the little tiny "hallway" that leads to the master bedroom suite (aka Gigantic Craft Room of Doom).

As lovely as this morning sunlight is, it's fleeting, and barely penetrates the space beyond this corner.  There's a serious issue with light in this house.  Time to learn to embrace lamps.

The "back" of the living room, behind the couch.  That's a lot of wall to paint, especially from the top of a ladder.

You can see the difference here between the light coming in from the kitchen windows, and the near-black shadows in the center of the picture. The neat thing about that is that all of the walls, at times, look like they're all painted in different colors, depending on the time of day.

The wall color, by the way, is Sherwin Williams' Tradewinds, which is a soft, pale blue with a touch of green in it.  I heart it.

EDIT:  wait, no it isn't - Tradewinds was what we used in Sylvan's room, and on the test wall in the living room.  I ended up swapping it out for something with a wee bit more green in it - Behr's Urban Raincoat.  

(Also on my never-ending to-do list: that empty aquarium. It's a bit of a running joke - it's been empty for years.  But it made a great terrarium for fake spiders at my last Halloween party).  

This is the dining room, aka "Room of Lost Furniture" aka "Laura's Guitar Crap Storage & Bike Workshop" (sadly, this particular bike, which is my favorite, is down with a serious case of Bearings Crud. Don't worry, though, it isn't terminal).

I'll be honest with you, I have no idea what this room is going to end up looking like.  For now, there's just stuff in it that has no place else to go.

This room has crown molding for some bizarre reason, even though exactly zero other spaces in this building have any.  I painted them the same color as the walls, to help minimize the fact of their existence - they just looked weird in there all by themselves.

 There's a lot more to show you, but there's also a lot more work to be done before I can do that.   I need to finish those shelves, for one thing; and there are still a lot of bare walls in this house, since I was waiting to hang things until after the big painting was done.

Then there's the dining room.  Hm.  My roommate wants to put a writing desk in there, which is going to be cool.  Also, there's futon just to the right of what you see in the picture that I've been trying to sell on Craigslist, but it turns out that Craigslisters are a bunch of flaky, flaky people (seven offers, all ghosted at the last minute? The hell?) I'm sure this surprises no one. As soon as it's out of the way, though, this room is going to get some serious attention.

But first: I have shelves to stain. After that I think I'll turn my attention to The Purple Glitter Situation.  But more on that later.


28 December 2016

21 December 2016

This Week In Laura

What have I done since I posted last? 
  • fuck all
  • watched a crap ton of Planet Earth and Life because David Attenborough
  • stood at the bus stop in 22º weather in the dark at 6am wearing all of my clothing at the same time
  • and then promptly (finally) took my car to the vet, because hell no

Okay, actually, I have done a bit of stuff around the house.  Mainly this:

Remember this shelfy nook in the living room?  It was not fabulous.  It still isn't, but I've been working on it slowly...

The shelves were on itty bitty plastic shelf clips pushed into the wall - some of them were glued (caulked?) into place, and all of them had been painted over a few times.  That made getting them out of the walls a damaging process.  Poor walls.

There is a LOT of spackle on these walls, you guys.  Spackle, patch, putty...lots of sanding and patching and sanding and patching and sanding and patching, and then finally retexturing. 

Two coats of primer.

Finally, the paint:  Sherwin Williams' Tradewinds.  It's a lovely color inside the Shelfy Nook, but it came out blotchy and weird on the walls, because I didn't prime first.  I know better.  It just happened, okay?

Mostly this was a test to see how the color looks in the living room.  You remember the Comfortless Gray issue I had in the entry way, after all.  I used Tradewinds in Sylvan's bedroom, and it looks fantastic in there - exactly the color I wanted to paint every single wall in the entire house.  But was it? Different light, different walls, different everything.  So this is a test area - I also did some large patches on three other walls in the same color, to see how looks at different angles and in different lights.  I'm happy to say I luuuurrrrve it. 

So what's next?  Well, the Shelfy Nook wall needs a second coat, and the entire living room needs to be primed and painted (and when I say "living room", I mean "living room plus two hallways and the dining room and entryway", because they're all connected). 

As for the Shelfy Nook itself, I have plans for that thing.  Oh, boy do I have plans.  Just wait and see.

28 November 2016

Help I Moved Into A Giant To-Do List

I've been working my butt off around the house, though I feel like I have nothing to show for it - which is the problem with maintenance and upkeep tasks - they're not flashy, or pretty, or fun.  But things have been accomplished, all the same (I can tell by my aching muscles, the cuts and bruises all over my body, and the spray paint on my legs).

Since last we spoke, I've: 

  • replaced most of the outlet and switchplate covers in the house with new ones (old ones were yellowed, dirty, and encrusted with paint)
  • hung blinds in my bedroom (white, 2" faux-wood "plantation shutter"-esque) 
  • gutted and mostly-organized the garage (everything had been just thrown in there in a hurry and I couldn't get to anything to use it)
  • purchased and assembled the following items from IKEA: 
    • FORHOJA kitchen cart (squee!)
    • HELMER metal file cabinet (I have one serving as a "leg" on my 8'-long sewing table, I wanted another one for the other end, for even more small-items storage) 
    •  DALFRED swirly-stool, used as a plant stand in my bedroom window (I've always wanted one of these, and for once, by the time I got to Ikea, they still had it!!)
    • pillows, comforter, sheets, bathroom rugs, towels (not "assembled" so much as washed and put into use, and OMG is my bed comfy.  It's been like sleeping in a hotel bed!) 
  • spray-painted all the iron decorative things I had hanging on my front porch at the old house.  Not sure what I'll do with them, but at least they've been freshened up
  • spray-painted all the decorative push-in garden edging and placed it around the border in the front yard (no plants yet, but I'm working on that).
  •  gutted this little shelfy-nook in the living room wall, which had about a million plastic clips which were caulked (?) to the wall and had been painted over a few times;  I removed them with pliers (!!) and then scraped the holes flat and patched them, and primed over them. Here's a before picture: 
Aw, there's the old flooring. I do not miss it.
  • This isn't a me-thing, but we got Google Fiber installed on Saturday!  We had had our AT&T U-Verse transferred from the old house, but it would NOT. WORK.  Seriously, we didn't have tv, and only barely had internet and spotty wifi, since October 1.  THANK YOU GOOGLE OMG.  
  • Installed a towel rack in the master bathroom; and a towel rack, toilet roll holder, and vanity towel ring in the small bathroom. 
  • "Repaired" loose sink faucets in the master bath (they just weren't screwed together all the way)

Next Up: 

New blinds for Sylvan's room
Prime and paint everything, ever
Hang a pot rack in the kitchen
Put up new covers for the exhaust fans in both bathrooms (one missing, one broken)
Repair a leaky, running toilet - first the flapper, and if that doesn't work, the whole fill tube and float
Start looking at fabrics to reupholster the couch and wingback chair in the living room

Also, I need to take a good hard look at the way I'm scheduling myself.  I am not happy.  I am, in fact, staggeringly unhappy, frustrated, sad, and angry all the time.  I've been busting my butt on this house, and even though the stress from the sale of the old house is over, I don't feel better at all.  I'm not allowing myself time to rest, or to do things I enjoy that lift my spirits and make me feel good.  I haven't ridden my bike in over a week, because I keep having to do something else that's more pressing than cleaning my bike and getting it souped up and ready to ride - which I need to do.  Bike makes brain run smoothly.  And I literally can't even remember when I last played my guitar, or painted a picture, or did anything, really except either get a house ready to sell or fix up a fixer-upper house.  I gave myself a little manicure one day after work last week and I felt SO guilty and angry with myself for not getting anything done for a whole two hours.  That's a bunch of self-induced, unhealthy stress that I can really do without.

Even at my busiest, I used to always allow myself the entirety of Wednesday evenings for a "spa night" - it's when I would do my nails, my toes, take a hot bath, dye my hair if I needed to, and generally just sit around and pamper myself all evening.  I also used to have a "noise night" on Thursdays, when Sylvan goes out for a coffee and writing date with a friend of hers.  Noise Night was for guitar practice, or for throwing on the radio at top volume and painting until I couldn't hold a brush anymore.  I miss doing those things.

If scheduling time to chill is what it takes to get me to freaking chill, then that's what's going to happen.  I am officially putting myself on my to-do list.
So there.

14 November 2016

Bedroom: Accomplished

My weekend was extremely busy.  I was off work on Friday; I basically woke up, had some coffee, and got to work - and didn't stop until Sunday night.  I painted walls and fixtures, moved furniture, repaired furniture, worked in the yard, cut pieces of wood into smaller pieces, worked on my bicycle, rearranged rooms, hung curtains, knocked out a bunch of boring, regular ol' housework - so many things!  I'm actually sore all over, I worked so hard. 

My biggest (and favorite) accomplishment from the weekend was this:

At last, a bedroom that looks like my actual bedroom!  Literally, actually - like 90% of the things in here came from my room at the old house;  even the paint color is similar (this is Glidden "White Bucks," a very, very pale gray;  the old room was Behr's "White Clay", which was a warm white with yellowy-green undertones). 

All of my old bedroom furniture is here.  I didn't exactly want to throw it all into the same corner, but, that's the way the room works.  Believe me, I'm perfectly willing to sacrifice options for that huge, glorious box window. 

It ends up functioning like a little "work triangle", like you hear about in kitchen design - it definitely makes getting ready for work in the morning fairly hassle-free.

Interior With Woman Reading,
Carl Holsoe, 1863-1935

In case you're wondering - and I'm not sure if I ever mentioned it before - my inspiration in this room (and its predecessor) comes largely from Carl Villhelm Holsøe's paintings of his home.  I like Victorian interior paintings in general; but there's a contented tranquility in Holsøe's work that I really love. 

 I cannot get enough of this amazing, 16"-deep box window. 

 Rabi likes it, too. 

In case you missed it in the pictures above, this is my Aardvarkadile.  It's a crocodile with enormous, floppy, lopsided ears, because...well, why the hell not, right?

Just in case you forgot, here's what the room looked like before I moved in - not a terrible blue on the walls; teal and gold inside the window box and all over a decorative shelf that spanned one wall of the room; linoleum tile on the floors. 

There's also a hand-painted ceiling fan;  it's still there, but I flipped the blades so that the plain, pale-wood-look side shows. 

The pink duct tape on the window was actually holding one of the panes in place - about a week ago I removed the tape, the pane, and all the old caulking, and re-set the pane into the frame. 

Things left to do in this room:  

  • baseboards will be installed soon by the tilers, who removed the old ones when they installed the new (gray, ceramic, wood-look) tile throughout the house
  • there's no door on the closet.  If I catch that curtain on my face and pull it down onto my own head one. more. time...
  • what was left of my bedframe finally collapsed!  Time for a new bed. 
  • The windows desperately need blinds, or some other privacy-protecting covering, underneath the sheer, white curtains.  That window film, though lovely - even though it's mismatched - is practically transparent at night when the lights are on indoors. No bueno. 

07 November 2016

Bedrooms Underway

I've begun painting - well, okay, priming - my bedroom.  I'm nowhere near ready to show you a whole room yet, but here's a shot of the inside of the box window in progress:

The room itself is a medium/pale blue; inside the box window is a deep teal with a metallic gold paint sponged over it. 

I'm painting the room white for now, because that's what it was before, and I loved it; and also because white paint is what I have (left over from last month when I spent two weeks painting the old house out in a "neutral" color that turned out to be a bit lighter than I thought it would be (Glidden "White Bucks", which is actually a very pale, warm gray. Very pale).  I may change the color later, but for now, I'd really like to be ONE color.

Other plans include purchasing blinds to go into these windows; hanging curtains (blue or white sheers from the old house, not sure yet); and decorating that big, glorious window seat with cushions and plants. I'd also like to replace that window film so that the film is the same on all the panes - something low-e that offers a bit more privacy. (These swirly and frosted-looking bits are lovely, but I can see every detail in that room from the outside, and my eyesight is terrible).

(For reference, the "White bucks" on every square inch of the old house, just after we moved out).

Meanwhile, over the weekend I painted Sylvan's bedroom.  I still have to finish the trim and doors in there, and then paint the ceiling; I'll have pics of that when it's all finished, too.

More soon!

28 October 2016

Bit By Bit

We're still deep in the throes of unpacking and trying to find places for things; but we've reached the point where along the way, some spaces are beginning to come together.

The "breakfast nook" area is now an open storage/pantry area.

It's not done yet, but it's a good start.

The yellow will be going away VERY soon.  We hates yellow, Precious! 

The baker's rack on the right side is now a coffee bar. 
It's so fun to use!  No more giant coffee machine taking up counter space.

This baker's rack originally had a wooden work surface on the top of it, which I chopped up and made into cutting boards, oh, six or seven years ago.  And guess what it needs now?  A wooden work top.  One of about a frillion items on my to-do list.


The entryway is blue!  Or is it?  Maybe it's green.  No, no, definitely blue.  Wait...it's green!  WHAT COLOR IS THIS PAINT?! (Sherwin Williams' Comfort Gray:  for your Mood Hallway) 

Now, if I can just locate the box that has all the entry stuff in it...

Just for comparison's sake, here's a shot of the old paint job, in the process of being primed.  You can also see a bit of the old entry way tile in this pic. 

The gray wood-look ceramic tile in the pics above goes throughout the entire house.  I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but it definitely makes a good, neutral background for everything.

More soon!


19 October 2016

On the Enumeration of Unhatched Poultry, and Other Such Nonsense

Ah, October 1st, that exciting day.  We were all packed and ready to go - in fact, we finished early and had time to sit around talking about how we'd planned to decorate our new space.  A moving truck was going to show up n the morning of the 1st, whisk away our things, and by that evening we'd be happily neck-deep in unpacking and beginning to make our new home beautiful.

What actually happened was this:
  • The moving company underestimated somehow, and sent us a truck that was too small.  The actual movers were fabulous to work with - they even called to see about getting a second truck to help out, but none were available.
  • When we got to the house at noon on the 1st, the floor tilers were still at it, and we couldn't go INTO the house - at all.  The movers packed our things into the garage, and a few pieces of furniture were left out in the driveway.  We camped out in the driveway and waited.  Turns out, the tilers would be there late into the night, and there was no way we were getting inside the house - except for the master bedroom, which was not being done that day, and which has a sliding glass door that opens into the backyard.  A couple of friends came over, and we all carried everything from the driveway around to the backyard and into the master bedroom; after that we went to their house for dinner and a shower, and then back to the old place to sleep on air mattresses for the night. Thankfully, by the next night, the bedrooms were finished and we could begin to sleep there.
  • It would be nearly two weeks before the rest of the floors would be finished.  The work crew was actually great - they did an awesome job, and were really friendly and fast. It took a while to get the job done because the crew was on loan from a construction job - the foreman is a cousin of my landlady's - so their availability was sporadic, is all.  Still, until there was a floor in the kitchen or laundry room, the stove was unhooked - we couldn't cook.  Also, there was a problem with the gas shutoff valve on the clothes dryer - we couldn't do laundry until a plumber could come out and replace the valve so that we wouldn't all, you know, die in a fiery explosion. 

However, as of Sunday morning, the entire floor in the entire house was finished, hooray! We've spent the last few days beginning to arrange the house - and finally, after two weeks, now that our stuff is beginning to fill up the place, it's finally starting to feel like home. the only problem is...where the hell is our stuff??

Here's the thing: although we labeled our boxes according to which room they were to go in, we completely omitted labeling the boxes with what was inside them - I mean, why bother, right? We were going to be unpacked in a day or two, and all the boxes, so helpfully labeled by room, would be deposited by the movers right where they go - we were only going to have to open them and empty them.  Tada! 

So, for the last couple of days I've continually kept markers and pens clipped to my shirt, knowing that anything I open (a) could be anything, and (b) probably isn't the thing I'm looking for, but (c) needs to be LABELED so that the next time I go looking for something, it won't take me as long to find it. I'm pretty sure I've opened every box in the house at least six times each. (Btw, cardboard cuts suck). At the moment my biggest Mystery!Box peeve is that while I've located and sorted all of my SCA garb, I'm missing one single box - which just happens to contain literally everything I need for an event I'm going to in two days. 
*sad trombone*

It's all been an extremely difficult and painful lesson in staying strong while being flexible.  It's [forcibly] expanded the limits of my ability to deal with stress, uncertainty, anger, frustration, panic, and despair.  It's expanded my physical limits, too.  The whole time this was all happening, I was also putting in about 20 hours a week working on the old house - painting, cleaning, landscaping, repairing things, climbing up and down ladders, replacing bits of the laminate floor - as well as moving everything I own around the new house at least four times each.  I almost wish I'd had one of those fitness tracker armbands through all of this - I'd love to know exactly how many squats I've done in the past two weeks.  (Interestingly, although maybe only to me, I hadn't ridden my bike since September 14th - and I ride nearly every day.  I was worried that 4+ weeks off the bike would have ruined the fitness level I'd previously built up; but when I got back in the saddle a few days ago I felt like I was actually in better shape than when I'd last ridden - probably because of all the squats!)

But the real moral of the story, kids, is LABEL YOUR BOXES.  Even if you think you don't need to, even if you're literally only putting them into your car and driving them three blocks away.  LABELS.