Monthly Archives: October 2011

Last Minute Decorating

We weren’t really feeling inspired for most of the month, but yesterday in a fit of motivation we decided to go out and buy a few Halloween decorations, since what was left on the shelves was on sale anyway.

Dave insisted on the giant spider. It’s pretty cute and fluffy actually.

I really wanted to hang some ghosts, but all we could find were giant ghouls (or were they ghasts?) and plushy ghosts. So instead I decided to use the mad skills I learned in preschool arts and crafts, and make ghosts out of some rags:

Oh yeah. Scraps of an old t-shirt, some yarn, and a black sharpie equals cheap-o hanging ghosts. I’m sure they’ll look cooler in the dark. Or possibly they won’t even be noticed. πŸ™‚


Getting rid of the beige

When we first moved in, almost the entire house was painted beige. The walls (except for the bathrooms), the doors, the door trim, all beige. But not the floorboards or the windowsills. Go figure. Of course we like the walls a lot more now that they are nice and green. (We like the walls that are brown and purplish-grey too.) But our nicely painted walls just make the beige doors and trim look even more dingy and blah.

The front door in particular has been especially beige-looking ever since we hung the white curtains. I didn’t take a fresh picture with the curtains in view, but here’s one from when we first hung the curtains. The front door is to the far right.

Anyway, I hadn’t really been feeling inspired the paint, but I guess a few weeks with the curtains pushed me over the edge. The beige front door had to go. Here’s the before. Don’t mind the paper/tape protecting the hardware…

Here’s how it looked after I started painting the trim on top. Seeing the beige with the white is such a contrast…

And here’s the finished product! Note how it actually matches the floorboards now…

Here’s a shot with the curtains in view. Sorry about the camera flash, it really isn’t all that shiny-looking in person…

Unfortunately there are another six doors, with trim, that are still very, very beige. And I need to paint BOTH sides of those doors… at least I can take them off of their hinges to paint. There are also two wall heaters that are beige. Eventually I’ll get around to figuring out if there is any way to paint them too…

Manual Labor

Our neighbors think we’re a little odd. When it comes to landscaping, we tend to stick with pretty primitive devices. We’ve been using a reel mower for awhile now:

Our neighbor took pity on Dave and lent us his gas-powered mower when we first moved in and the grass got a bit long. But generally the reel mower works just fine. We barely had to mow in the summer anyway considering how dead our grass was looking. We do have a plug-in weed whacker though, we aren’t completely crazy.

More recently we’ve been expanding our tools selection. To try to bring our lawn back to life we got an aerator (the kind with two hollow prongs on the end of a pole that you stomp on with your foot) and a little hand-dispenser for fertilizer. And then to move the pieces of the yucca tree to the side yard and out of the way, we got a wheelbarrow and an axe:

When we bought the axe, the little old lady at the hardware store cash register gave us a “be careful” instead of the more normal “have a nice day”. We may have been grinning gleefully at the time.

I’ve gotten pretty good at responding to our curious/confused neighbors… “Oh, this is to make up for not going to the gym for the past two weeks.” They generally nod sagely to that. πŸ™‚ Someday we’ll probably switch to less manual tools, but with a yard this size, these are working fine for us for now. Considering that we also don’t have much in the way of storage space, it’s nice to minimize the big/heavy tools when we can…

Bedroom Organization

I don’t post too much about our bedroom, mainly because it gets pretty much the worst lighting of the entire house. I tend to take pictures with my iPhone because a) I know nothing about real photography and b) photos on the SLR just sit there forever and never end up being shared with anyone.

But now that we have the dedicated media computer, we also have an established system for getting photos off of the SLR and onto the internet in a reliable fashion. So that just left the issue of me being clueless about how to use real cameras effectively.

The bedroom is a pain because the one window is completely shaded by our patio roof, and the light bulb in our ceiling fan is a yellow, yellow halogen. While I love our yummy brown walls in person, in my photos they always look either dark and dreary (with the light off) or weirdly orange (with the light on). So in a fit of motivation, I unearthed our tripod, because I heard somewhere that those make photos better somehow. And I cornered Dave, who actually knows something about photography. More accurately, I made sure he saw me fumbling around with his SLR, so that he whisked it away and set it up for me. I win! Here are the results:

The point of this post is to reveal our slightly unconventional clothing storage. We decided when we finally moved out of Berkeley to not take our dressers with us, because we always over-stuffed the drawers and could never find anything. Instead we started collecting smaller baskets that let us separate out our clothing more specifically and keep things more organized.

So that leaves us with a bunch of baskets littered about the room. What a mess, and these pictures are after I tidied the room up! Anyway, our master plan all along has been to build a captain’s bed with storage cubbies to hold our myriad baskets. We also plan to build a storage bench that will hold the clothing in those three white baskets at the foot of the bed.

Of course that’s not all of our clothing. Most of it is stuffed into the closet off to the left.

Currently to get to the master bathroom you turn left into the closet, then left into the bathroom. Our hope is to close up the current bathroom doorway and instead have the bathroom open directly onto the bedroom. Then we can close off the closet area and make it a proper walk-in closet with way more storage space. (If you look closely in the picture above you can see the blue tape on the floor where we want put the new doorway leading into the closet.)

In the meantime, our closet gets to be a huge mess. Oh, and looking at these pictures makes me realize that I really need to decorate these walls!

New Toy

We finally pulled the trigger on a table saw. it has wheels, so I guess technically it’s “compact”, but it’s still too wide to fit through any normal-sized doors. So to get it to the side patio (our preferred working area) we have to open the main garage door and cart it across the grass and around back. Hm. Maybe we should clean out the garage and set up a work space there…

Even being super cautious and triple-checking everything before each cut, we had all the pieces for our bed frame cut in about an hour. Woohoo!

Fall Flowers

I’m still a compete novice when it comes to even the most basic of of gardening. The petunias I planted in the spring were still alive, but looking pretty yellow and not very flowery.

So I started looking around on the internet to see if it’s even legit to plant different flower in the fall. Apparently it is, but I’m still pretty confused as to what I’m supposed to plant, since I live in zone 9 where it pretty much never freezes. most introductory garden sites seem to assume that you live somewhere with real seasons. πŸ˜› Anyway, I figured it would be safe to stick with some of the most common suggestions: chrysanthemums and pansies. And sure enough, when I got to the store they were out front and center. Right next to them were some other plants I came across in my internet searching: alyssum and flowering kale. I love how cheap they all are, I don’t feel as bad buying a plant that I may not be able to keep alive if it only costs $1.29.

I split them up based on how much sun they need. I think our bigger flower box qualifies as “full sun”, at least for another month or two, so it got the kale and chrysanthemums:

View from the front door:

and the smaller, shadier flower box got the pansies and alyssum:

I think I keep underestimating how big our flower boxes are when I’m at the store… they still look a little sparse, and that’s after we picked up one more of each type of plant to make them look a little less empty. Hm. Ah well, it’s a process.

Dishwasher Upgrade

We were pretty happy when we bought the house that it came with a dishwasher already installed. And even though it was pretty tired-looking, it more or less got the job done. This seems to be the closest thing I have to a picture of the thing:

We did learn during the inspection that the dishwasher installation wasn’t up to code since the drainage tied in to the sink disposal directly, without an air gap. And we eventually learned exactly what that meant, because any time the sink was draining a bit slowly due to food stuff in the disposal, the dishwasher got an inch or two of standing water at the bottom. Nothing ever leaked out, and we quickly learned to run the sink disposal early and often. But still… ick.

last week, the dishwasher I had been eying for a while went on sale, so we went right in and bought it. It came with free delivery and free haul-away of the old dishwasher, but we decided to do the installation ourselves.

I”ll spare you the details of the installation, but rest assured that every stereotypical conversation and plot twist played out exactly as you’d expect, from, “We’ll get it delivered Monday, so we can get it completely installed Monday night,” to 5 separate trips to the hardware store for just one more item, to the cursing and swearing at pinched fingers and scraped knuckles. We finally got it completely installed and functional on Saturday, 5 days after the delivery, and ran our first successful load of dishes on Saturday night. I say “we”, but really all of the credit for our (eventual) success goes to Dave, who managed to work past the crazy old setup, drill a new hole in the sink for the air gap, wire up the cord, and probably half a dozen other things that I just slept through. πŸ™‚ For all his cursing, he’s pretty happy he did it himself, and he will have a thing or two to say if we ever re-do the cabinets and want to change how the hoses are run to the dishwasher…

Anyway, here’s the dishwasher in all it’s functioning glory:

And at last, here’s a wide view of the kitchen in its current configuration.

We may eventually replace the range too, and then things will match a bit better. πŸ™‚

The Front Yard

There was already an in-ground sprinkler system when we moved in, and we were able to figure out how to run it without too much trouble. How much to water, though, has taken a while to figure out. By mid-summer, our front yard had a pretty even dead-yellow look to it. So we upped the watering time, and a few weeks later it was looking like this:

As best as I can tell, the sprinklers layout doesn’t provide enough coverage. I’ve looked and looked, but there are only sprinkler heads on the right-hand edge of the yard, and there doesn’t seem to be a single sprinkler head on the walkway and driveway side pointing back towards the right. The grass that’s right next to the walkwayΒ  gets enough water from the runoff of the sprinkler system on the other side of the walkway that covers the flower beds. But the rest of the grass that’s closer to the left side much stays untouched. That one horizontal swath of yellow in the middle of the yard was due to some dirt blocking part of the sprinkler head, causing it to shoot water to either side but not shoot any directly forward. I’ve just fixed that, so hopefully we’ll at least have a more even gradient from green to yellow.

We’re expecting some rain this week, so hopefully soon our yard will once again be lush and green and i can put off fixing our sprinkler layout until next summer. πŸ™‚

Kitchen Counter Space

I’ve only occasionally put thought into different options for getting things organized on the kitchen counter in the past. But now that we actually have counter space that we use a lot and would like to keep neat and tidy, I find myself thinking about it waaay too much.

One of the things that I’ve finally decided just takes up too much space is a drying rack for the stuff that we wash by hand. We don’t produce a ton of dirty dishes as it is, and most of them can go in the dishwasher. So we finally settled on a little folding wall-mounted drying rack:

You can see what it mainly gets used for: wine glasses and knives. πŸ™‚ And when we don’t need it, it folds up against the wall:

And there is stays tucked up next to our mini espresso machine. To the right in this picture you can also see the other “up off the counter” modification we made… it’s a wire rack that holds the soap and sponges so they aren’t sitting in puddles on the edge of the sink all the time.

So far this has been working really well for us. I’ll be curious to see over time if the drying rack wears away the paint behind it from being opened and closed… I’m also monitoring the water drippage on both of the racks, but it seems to be pretty minimal.

Sorry for the lack of wider angles, our kitchen is a pretty big mess right now as Dave struggles to get our replacement dishwasher installed. I can’t wait.