Monthly Archives: November 2011

Holiday Decorations, Part 1

Since it was just the two if us, we kept our Thanksgiving celebration pretty minimal: chicken, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, kale, and wine. It was a bit heavy on the sweet side (our preferred kale recipe uses dried cherries and apple cider, among other things) but the whole dinner was easy to make and we finished off all of the leftovers in the next two days.

(Wooo macro shot.)

Anyway, I’ve been way too excited to get some xmas decorations up. Last year we bought a few decorations and, feeling feisty, we decided to go with a blue and silver theme instead of the traditional red and green. It wasn’t until later that we realized that those were pretty much Hanukkah colors, which is just fine with us. πŸ™‚ We had gotten some blue and white outdoor LED light strands and had haphazardly strung them up last year. This year I wanted to frame our house oh-so-nicely, so we got some gutter clips and I started obsessively switching out LEDs so the strands would alternate blue and white:

(A glass of wine makes the work go faster.)

Dave had never hung xmas lights from gutters before, so while he didn’t really need any help, I went up and directed him. And when we got to the end we didn’t have quite as much lights left as I wanted for the appropriate hanging effect I wanted, so I went all the way back and shifted everything over a few feet. Dave just sat back and let me do that part, he can tell when I’m getting obsessive. πŸ™‚

(I look pretty precarious in the shot, but I'm a big wimp so trust that I'm actually pretty far from the edge...)

We also bought a nifty light-up decoration for our front patio, but I didn’t get a picture, so too bad. Well, I’ll do a separate post for it, and you’ll just have to wait in suspense until then.

The last thing we did was hang the stockings. Actually, first we hung a mirror over the fireplace, because the lack of mantle made the stockings look pretty weird. Having a mirror there balances things out a bit.

(Dave, me, Loki, Callie, Pollux, Castor. Good thing the little stockings were super cheap.)

We’ve had that mirror forever, and now I have the strong urge to either paint it white or stain it really dark. We’ll be replacing the faux-brick… someday… so I guess I should wait until then before deciding on the mirror. Anyway, there are more decorations in the works, so i guess I’ll take more pictures and post them soon.


Corner Shower Curtain

We hate, hate, hate our “master” bathroom. It’s only 8 feet by 5 feet, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s laid out in a pretty inefficient manner, with a space-wasting linen closet and cheap little pre-fab corner shower. From day one it’s been our first planned major demo, and we’re saving money hard with the hopes of completely gutting it in the spring.

Unfortunately, first one door and then the other on the corner shower became almost completely non-functional. When little plastic tabs start breaking off you know it’s bad news. Anyway, we finally had to accept that the doors weren’t going to survive the 4-odd extra months that we needed them for. Neither of us really wanted to switch to the hall shower sooner than necessary, (the main issue being the miserable water pressure in there) so we came up with the idea of taking the doors off of the corner shower and rigging a shower curtain instead. I started looking around online for L-shaped curtain rods, but they all seemed to be in the $60 range! That just seemed silly for something that we only need for 4 months, so we decided to make our own out of PVC. Here’s the door removal:

The pieces are going to live out on the patio with our banished screen door for now:

And there was much scraping of excess caulk to clean things up…

And then we rigged the PVC connectors together, reminded me of playing with Pipeworks as a kid:

We didn’t see anything resembling a flange, so we just bought some end caps and screwed them directly into the wall:

And then everything was attached!

since our shower pan isn’t exactly very deep and we’ll be throwing it out in the spring too, we decided to glue one side of the shower curtain down directly to the wall and the pan, to minimize water escaping. Since there’s that vertical ceiling support, the curtain only opens halfway anyway.

All finished:

While we got the cheapest shower curtain possible, we did make sure it was a 7 foot tall curtain, since we had noticed the 6 foot tall shower doors weren’t stopping some water from spraying over and hitting the bathroom door. (You can actually see a bit of rust around the hinges. boo.)

Anyway, I don’t know if we would have gone this route if we weren’t fairly certain that it’d be a temporary solution. I guess we could have used galvanized pipe and a cool patterned curtain for an “industrial chic” look, but I’m pretty happy with the price for PVC:

  • 10′ PVC pipe – $1.68
  • PVC connectors – $2.55
  • PVC primer/cement- $7.51
  • shower curtain – $15
  • curtain hooks – $3
  • Caulk – $8.49

And we still have leftover PVC and plan to use it and the cement to make some obstacles for Loki since he needs to practice for his agility classes. The caulk will undoubtedly get used again too.

Bed Building, Part 1

We have the table saw, at last… and we’ve had the lumber… for months now. πŸ˜› So we’re finally building our storage bed. We’re basing it on this design from Ana White… except… well, we want a storage bench at the foot of the bed, so it makes more sense for the cubbies to go all the way down each side,right? So I started drawing and re-drawing… I was being really indecisive on dimensions, so the final deciding factor ended up being whatever dimensions managed to fit the most efficiently on 4×8 sheet of plywood. After much drawing and erasing, I had this:

Okay, so it’s basically impossible to see what’s going on. Ah well. Essentially we’re building two long/skinny platforms that go along each side of the bed, with 2x4s connecting to two across the middle.

First we cut all of the plywood. Then the next weekend we put the two platforms together. It was a lot of pre-drilling, gluing, and screwing, with some side discussions of the pros and cons of buying an air compressor and nail gun.

At any rate, all of the plywood pieces came together with just the normal amount of adjusting, aligning, and annoyed cursing. πŸ™‚ Here it is all put together:

If you can imagine the platform on the left facing the other way and a bunchΒ  2x4s connecting the two, you may be starting to see how our bed will end up looking. We already have basket cubes ready to be stowed away in each cubby, now we just need to finish! Next up: trim, wood filler, and paint.

Stencil Art

A month or so ago I saw a picture of a TV show quote that Dave and I both love that someone had turned into a large artsy print. I thought it was super cool and decided I really wanted to make my own. I guess I was more in the mood for arts and crafts rather than digital art and high-resolution printing, so I bustled off to the store and procured some super-cheap canvasses, stencils, sponges, and acrylic paint. Here’s the finished “art”:

You know, I don’t think that’s even correct grammar. Whatever, it’s a direct quote, and it’s pretty much my mantra, so too bad. Anyway, here are some action shots:

I totally guessed on the stencil size, but it ended up being perfect.

My stenciling technique was pretty bad to start with, but it was pretty easy to go back over it afterwards with a detail brush, so no harm done. πŸ™‚ Here it is as seen from the living room:

It may end up moving if we ever decide what to do with this wall. I kinda want some extra-big art behind the dining table and a modern bookcase of some sort against the wall on the right side of the picture. We’ll see. Here it is from the dining room. With the dining room light in the foreground just because it’s so cool:

I had originally planned to paint over the words so they wouldn’t have the stencil lines in them, but I really just loved how it turned out. I free-handed the “True story” at the bottom because I wanted it to look different. At first I thought it was pretty crappy in comparison to the stenciled letters, but I suppose it’s grown on me.

Rain Barrel!

We’ve been talking about getting a rain barrel, but weren’t exactly in a rush over the summer, since I don’t think it rained more than once after we got back from the beach. But it’s rained a few times now (our grass is green again, hurray!) so we decided it was time. For our first attempt we ordered a ready-made barrel online. We decided to not set up an overflow option for the time being, (we’ll see how that works out…) so installation was pretty straightforward. First Dave took a sawsall to the metal gutter:

We ended up needing an extra trip to the hardware store since the existing brackets pulled out in the process and the whole downspout fell off. Oops… but hammering in new brackets was pretty easy. We got a little flexi spout extender thing:

And a few “retaining wall” bricks to give the barrel a bit more height:

And we’re all done. Here it is in relation to the rest of the house. it’s on the right front corner.

Part of the reason we went with the pre-made barrel was because we knew it would be visible by the rest of the court. I’m pretty impressed with the material. It’s just a solid piece of plastic, but the different finishes make it look decently like a wooden barrel. Maybe if we decide to add more barrels around the house, we can try obtaining a used wine barrel from one of the wineries around here…