Monday, March 29, 2010

Attack of the Kitties!

Last night Bill worked a night shift, leaving Ralph and I at home all night. We hung out downstairs. I played around on the web, watched some episodes of Weeds, and watched a crappy movie (500 Days of Summer. Blech.). I didn’t head upstairs for bed until around 2am. Before heading up I let Ralph out and it was absolutely pouring outside (as it had been for the majority of the day). Ralph came back in and we started upstairs… But then I felt water drip on me in the stairwell. Uh-oh. I turned on the light and saw that there were 2 steady drips coming out of the stairwell door frame next to the kitchen. I didn’t know what was causing the leak. I was afraid that the storm had flooded the attic or found some other devious way inside. Dollar signs were flashing before my eyes and I our upcoming vacation was fading into black.

I called Bill in a panic. He was in the middle of dealing with something and couldn’t really talk. I put out two bowls to try and catch the falling water. Sigh, whatever was wrong I figured there was nothing I could do right now to fix it. I continued upstairs and put Ralph in our bedroom to sleep for the night. I then went to brush my teeth and get ready for bed.

I opened the door to the bathroom and there was water everywhere! But, the source of the water was there as well. It was our radiator.IMG_4951The nozzle on the bleed valve had been turned and was gushing water. It was like having a sink on full blast for who knows how long. The floor was completely soaked. The rugs in the bathroom absorbed a lot of the water but it was even standing water on top of that. In short, it was mess. I quickly turned the bleed valve off and threw down a bunch of towels to start soaking up water. The rest of the cleaning would have to wait to morning.

The bathroom is home to the culprits behind last night shenanigans. Allow me to introduce Zariel and Pubert.

IMG_4960 Zariel, the ringleaderIMG_4958 Pubert, unwitting accomplice

Our darling adorable cat, Zariel, greatly enjoys laying on top of the radiator for warmth. She has also apparently gotten into the habit of mouthing the bleed valve. We believe that she ended up getting some purchase on it and wound up turning it on. Which had disastrous results. I can’t even begin to speculate as to what time she turned it on. All I know is it happened sometime after 4:30pm (when Bill left) and before 2am (when I went to bed). Oh, kitties. I think that counts as one of your 9 lives.IMG_4965 I placed Zariel on top of the radiator to get a picture demonstrating her love for lounging up there, but she decided instead to give me a reenactment shot. Sheesh.

Another sheesh goes out to the weather today. It has been just dumping. Our poor little newly created garden beds have been turned into giant mud puddles. I hope the seeds make it and don’t end up being washed away in the rain.IMG_4971It’s raining. It’s pouring…  IMG_4970What happened the lovely sunshine we’ve been having? Doesn’t mother nature know it is supposed to be nice on Spring Break and rain only when school is in?



Sunday, March 28, 2010

Downhill Spiral

Uh oh, folks. This is bad news. Very bad news indeed.

I have only had my blog for a precious few months and it is already taking a turn for the worse.

This is now my second (gasp!) post which revolves around a polyvore image. For this, I apologize.

But that isn’t stopping me! Bwahaha

I want you. I want all of you. I need you. I need you in my house. NOW.

wantI am so very sorry.

The Room that is meant for Living

My living room:

living roomOkay, just kidding. I was actually just playing around on polyvore and made this.
Hello, ladies. Look at your living room. Now back at me. Back at your living room. Now back at me… No, this image doesn’t smell better than my living room, but I used the exact same color scheme. I totally did not mean to; I just was putting together things I thought were pretty in colors I thought were pretty.  Hmm, really says something about my color preferences, doesn’t it? Side note, my living room is sans-pink (out of respect to Bill, not that he would probably care anyway).
That is all. Back to watching the 5th season of Weeds on netflix!

Spring Break- Day 1 Recap

Which also may end up being known as “The Only Day of Spring Break that it didn’t Rain”… but, lets hope not.

My first ‘project’ Saturday morning was removing some kitchen cabinet doors. I was suppose to be doing the dishes, but I quickly lost focus from the task at hand and took off cabinet doors instead. I felt pretty Dunphy-esque during the whole escapade. I wanted to include just a clip from this week’s show with Phil being all distracted and whatnot. However, I couldn’t find just a clip… So, here is the whole episode!  And, never mind. Hulu is awesome and you can create your own custom clips!  Of course, the entire show is hilarious and I fully recommend viewing it in its entirety. I’m just assuming that you already know how awesome it is and, therefore, just need the clip that is actually relevant to my topic.

Anyway, here are the kitchen cabinets sans-doors. I think they will look really nice once we paint them and add the corbels. We like the look so much we actually want to take off another two doors, but that would require us to rearrange where things are stored, because no one needs to have a open air view of our mess of tea bags and medicine. Or, we could just get some cute little baskets and throw all that crud in there. That way it would at least look organized.  IMG_4946P.S. Lets pretend that I actually cleaned off the counter and arranged the dishes to look all pretty like. Oh, and, that my camera’s battery wasn’t about to die and that I was able to create some decent lighting. Ah, it looks much better now. Pretending is so much fun.

Anywho, the majority of the day was spent working on our front yard. You remember how it looked at the end of last weekend, right? A little something like this:IMG_4874 Well, after hours of manual labor it now looks a little something like this:IMG_4938 Ooh la la! We finished digging up the gravel and corroded plastic. Then we added Miracle Grow Garden Soil and and covered that with a layer of Tagro that was left over from tree planting. We got the little wooden picket fencing at Lowe’s. So far we have installed 3 sets and we have another 2 to add to the sides to bring it even with the start of the house. That will have to wait until we rip up the rest of the sod (and by ‘sod’ I mean moss with weeds and the occasional clump of grass). We did make a discovery which might just make it that much easier to de-sod the front yard. At least part (if not all?) of the grass is sitting on top of… plastic! That is right, folks, more plastic! This time it is heavy duty thick plastic sheeting. The topsoil and grass is only a few inches thick. Potentially this will make it very easy to rip up the sod in chunks and get rid of the plastic as well. Keep your fingers crossed!

I also planted a bunch of bulbs and seeds into our new garden patches. Hopefully all the rain this week will get those little guys a sowing and we will have bunches of pretty flowers in no time! I put in 2 peonies (which I looooove, but Bill does not), 25 freesias (go, fragrance, go!), and 2 astilbe (which I had never heard of before, but the picture on the package looked pretty). I also tossed in too many seed packs to list. We shall see how many actually make it. I am very lazy with the vast majority of my seeds. I know I should start them first in a little well kept and tended green house and only transplant them outdoors after they are yay high, but I don’t. Hell, I don’t know if what I do even counts as planting. I basically just sprinkle them around and then after all the packs are empty I go through and mix up the soil with my hands. I figure that is pretty damn close to 1/8” or 1/4” worth of soil cover. Good enough. I hope.IMG_4947 It sure will be pretty if even a quarter of these grow and bloom!

I also added some cute, cheery, pink zonal geraniums to the two blue planters that sit on our front steps. I will fill them later with more color from petunias and whatnot that I actually will sow in my little portable greenhouse, but until that day comes they needed at least a little pop of color to stop them from looking so dang sad and dilapidated.IMG_4943 Here is the final look at the fruits of this weekend’s labor. IMG_4940We hope that the fencing will do a better job of defining ‘our’ space. And hopefully people will get the hint to not have their dogs poop in there. Or, at minimum, if they do to freakin’ pick it up!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Sunday Stroll

We did not work outside today. Too sore. Too many blisters. The rest of the gravel will have to wait for next weekend.

We did, however, go for a nice walk. It felt nice to stretch out our aching muscles and Ralphie was in need of some exercise, as well. While walking I took pictures of some houses to share with you. Enjoy (hopefully).IMG_4877 This funky Queen Anne is broken up into a couple of different units. You can’t really tell in this lighting, but it is a dusky lavender. I remember at one point when we were apartment hunting the attic unit in this place was available. It is accessible via a giant rickety looking exposed wood staircase around back. I cannot imagine carting everything up and down those stairs in the rain. I imagine the stairs must get supper slick. But, still, a really fun looking house. The second floor unit would be my pick. You get access to the turret and have a sweet balcony big enough to bbq on.IMG_4878 The yellow house on the left has gone through some major renovations these last few years. In fact, you can still see some scaffolding up against the right side of the house. I think they have done a nice job updating the house. It looks great. I also really like their fencing, particularly the gate. When we finish fencing in our side yards I would like to add some cute gates, possibly similar to that one…

If you notice in these pictures the skies differ drastically. The weather today has alternately been gorgeous and warm with blue skies and big puffy white clouds to dark ominous massings with gusting wind and torrential downpours. Ah, spring in the PNW.IMG_4881 This house is cute. I love the wrap around porch and bay windows. I like to imagine that the second floor balcony is off the master bedroom. How perfect would it be to drink coffee and read a book out there in the morning? Well, despite the fact that it is a Western exposure, not Eastern. Oh well, I guess drinking some wine or microbrews and watching the sunset wouldn’t be half bad either. I keep being drawn to blue houses. I just really really like them. Hurm. IMG_4882 It is always interesting to see the basically the same house interpreted 3 different ways. Well, that is when it is a period home. If it was track housing it would be a completely different story. Ugh, track housing developments. You might find this shocking, but I like the blue one the best (You win again, blue. You always do.)IMG_4884This little green stucco house is so darned cute. It is unusual to see stucco painted a mint green like this. I would never think to do it, but it works here. I love the arched windows. I also really enjoy their landscaping out front.IMG_4888I love this house (which happens to be owned by one of my colleagues). I really like their color palette, especially the reddish brown accent color on the trim and gutters.  It really highlights the relationship between the exterior paint and the exposed brick chimney. We have talked about doing a similar palette on our house, but switching the black for dark brown, and the light green for more of a tan/cream. On our house you can only see the very top of our chimney, so I don’t know if they reddish trim would be as striking.  Then again, I do love blue houses…IMG_4889 Well, that’s it for this weekend. Happy Spring, everyone!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Spring!

Today is the official first day of Spring and mother nature did not disappoint. It was a perfectly sunny day. We worked outside for a good chunk of the day. We even saw a Bald Eagle soaring overhead. Bill mowed the lawn. I planted 3 begonia bulbs and 9 dahlia bulbs. Last summer I put in 4 or 5 dahlias, but I’m not sure if they are going to come back. Our winter was pretty mild, so I am really hoping they were hardy enough to make it. IMG_4867 Check out our cute new bird bath dog water dish. We bought it with the best of intentions for our backyard birds, alas, it happens to be at the perfect height for Ralph to lap up all the water. Oh well, it is still really cute and cheery.IMG_4852 This the ranunculus I planted last week. It is doing well, with a bunch of buds in the works. Success.IMG_4859 Here is the azalea I planted. All the beautiful blooms that were on it when I bought it are dead and there are no new buds looking to take their place. Fail. Hopefully it will be healthy enough and bloom next year.IMG_4858 And here is one of the aforementioned anemones. There are a bunch more coming up. Success.

Together we worked on digging up the gravel strip that lined our front yard. Seriously, why the hell would you put gravel there? Why?!?IMG_4865 Isn’t it lovely? Why put in a garden or even shrubbery when you can have gravel? Ugh. So it turned out that underneath the gravel was a layer of plastic. There were two types of plastic: brown and black. The brown plastic was thicker and much easier to pull up. The black plastic was pretty flimsy and a lot of weeds had broken through (as evidenced in the photo).IMG_4872Ah, brown plastic. You made my job that much easier. IMG_4871  Black plastic, you suck.

We ended up digging up about 2/3 of the strip. IMG_4875 IMG_4874 We didn’t finish because we went to help plant the last 3 trees from the city: 2 Jacquemont Birches and one Red Maple. If you are thinking about planting trees yourself, let me make a recommendation. Do NOT get a Red Maple. Their root balls come straight from the devil. They have been far and away the worst to plant. We were able to plant both of the birches from start to finish, meanwhile we were barely half way into picking apart the maple’s root ball. Blurg.

Maybe we will finish digging up the gravel tomorrow, well, at least the digging up the bulk of it. We need to go buy some rakes to get the last loose pieces. We will also need the mini white picket fencing we want to put in. Of course, we also need to get some soil and mulch to fill in the now gravel-less pit. Once that is done I can really start going wild with planting seeds. Wah-hoo!


The Eventual To-Do

Time will tell what we actually get done this weekend, but until then here are some things we would like to do. Not today or tomorrow, but eventually, lets say this summer. Summer is a great catch all for projects, because I am a teacher and envisions my summer lasting for an epic amount of time where I am free to work on things around the house, and visit friends, and take vacations, and, and, and… To bad summer actually ends up with me going to more classes to keep my certificate up to date and my only vacations are to attend friends’ weddings (same for visiting said friends). Sigh. Well, on with the grand ideas.

First, some inspirational decor photos. Love these. They are from the blog From the Right Bank.

from the right bank2from the right bank3  I think these interiors would be even better with wall color. White is a bit too boring for me; of course, that could have something to do with my parents’ house being stark white with not a hint of color (or design) anywhere. Silly hippies, don’t you know you should have had a bohemian eclectic style?

Bill and I would also like to give woodworking a go. We would like to try our hand at handcrafting some furniture. Lucky for us there is this hand dandy site with plans all laid out in a supposedly user friendly way. I only say supposedly because we have not used them yet and cannot attest to their friendliness or animosity. Knock off Wood has some really cool projects and we are definitely looking to try making some bookshelves, coffee table, and nightstands.  Of course, before we tackle some of those projects we need to invest in some proper tools… Hmmm, Bill’s birthday is coming up. That is a worthy excuse to buy saw horses, drills, saws, and whatnot, right?

I would also like to try my hand at some stenciling (or even free hand?) wall art. Check out these awesome (and affordable) stencils at Cutting Edge Stencils.  I heard about them at The DIY Showoff, where they are currently holding a giveaway. My big questions, is how much painted wall art is too much painted wall art? Hmmm? I have been envisioning adding some period stenciling above our picture railing in the living room. However after looking through Cutting Edge Stencils I want to also add an all over damask stencil to our dining room (below the picture railing) and some of the tree, flower, and bird stencils to the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs. Ahh, decisions, decisions. DamaskAnnaLisas_1cutting edge The damask for the dining room. I would want to do it only using a stain, because I like the more subtle play of color on color. When I lived in Italy in one of my apartments had a golden fabric damask bedroom. I loved it. I would post a image, but it was from the days when I used a film camera, so no handy dandy digital images. Sorry.Wall-Stencil-Tree-Branch6 Birds and branches for a bedroom. I really like the layered image (and the kitteh, of course). Flower-Stencils-Large Anemones for my craft room. In other exciting news: anemones are now blooming in my front garden. Exciting  being a relative term here. Flower-Stencil-Large Maybe some XL zinnia blooms for the upstairs bathroom? I’m curious what all goes into making a stencil. Perhaps I could create my own with an exacto knife and some sturdy plastic. I think I would really like to buy one to start with (maybe the damask, because that would be the most complex to create). That way I can get an up close look at the materials used and see how the smooth the whole stenciling process goes. From there I think I could come up with my own flower, tree, and bird stencils (but perhaps I am being wholly over ambitious).

Anyone out there ever used a stencil to paint? How did it go for you?

Okay, one last eventual to-do. Our kitchen cabinets. Of course, I would eventually (as in years down the road) like to get the kitchen entirely redone.  Put in an island, rework the layout, put in a breakfast nook, change out the ug-fest recessed lighting, and a handful of other things… But until then I would like to do some DIY updates: paint the cabinets cream, paint the walls a robins egg blue.5004_9B Valspar 5004-9B, Cincinnatian Hotel Abbey, to be exact. I want to paint the interior of the cabinets Freshaire Choice FA049, Summer Dragonfly. Unfortunately, their color selector is dumb and I can’t get an image of the paint chip to share. I want to take the doors off of the cabinets we use to store our dishes, but leave them all the others. There are currently no drawer pulls or knobs, so that is also something that needs to be taken care of. I’m not sure yet what color I want to paint the ceiling (any suggestions?) or the exact shade of cream I want to use on the cabinets. We also have ugly linoleum in the kitchen and I was thinking some checkerboard marmoleum might be the quick fix I’m looking for.FORBO CLICK Something like that, but in different colors…

I also want to add corbels to the upper cabinets. I got the idea from Layla over at The Lettered Cottage. We already have crown molding on the top (even if it was most obviously a DIY job by the former owner and is in need of some definite repairs).AFTER_PlateWall Okay, that is now more than enough of my future to-do list. Now it is time to get off the laptop and go actually get something done (i.e. plant some dahlia bulbs and dig up some nasty ‘decorative’ gravel- an oxymoron if I ever heard one).


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nothing to write home about

This weekend we did get some things done around the house, but nothing terribly exciting. We had to replant our birch tree. There were some heavy winds and rain this week and the birch couldn’t quite hack it. We came home from work to find it leaning hard a couple of days this week. Each day we would try to adjust it and stomp it back into place; only to have it rain again be back to the learning tower of tree-sa.  So, on Saturday Bill pulled it up, widened the hole and added some extra dirt and put it back in. It looks good at the moment, but the real test will come next time it pours and blows. We also planted a tree for our neighbors and delivered the last of the city trees to our other neighbors. That means… no more container trees on our side yard. Yay!

I also planted an azalea and a ranunculus in our front yard. I bought them both last week at Lowe’s. They both looked quite a bit perkier last week… the downpour really did a number on the azalea’s blooms and the wind managed to knock over the ranunculus’ pot multiple times. Hopefully now that they are planted they will go back to being their bright and cheerful selves.

Other than that we picked up the house a bit, did laundry (but have not put it away… in weeks), went grocery shopping (a dire necessity at that point), had friends over for dinner, and I got my hair did (which has nothing whatsoever to do with the house, but whatevs).

Today, I am being lazy. I am lounging around in my bathrobe and drinking tea. I am trying to get rid of this cough that I cannot seem to shake. It is lame. I am ready to be done with it. Of course, so are all the other people I know who have fallen victim to the same (short-lived) cold with the (everlasting) cough.

I feel like I need to include at least one photo. All these words are bore-ing. So, here is a sneak peak at one of our projects.printmapsmallIt is the Nolli Map of Rome. It is phenomenal. I attended the lecture at UO when they first announced that through a joint partnership of the geography and architecture department they had developed a pieced together (and interactive) version of Nolli’s map (which was originally 12 copper plate engravings). It is available for purchase from Raven Maps. They were super speedy with their shipping. Now, we will see how super speedy we will be with the framing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Feed me, Seymour!

It turned out my plans for Sunday were over ambitious. We did not have any time to install our mystery gift… but we had time today! So, with out further ado, here it is:IMG_4832 It’s our new wooly pocket! My mom bought this for us a few weeks ago and last weekend we finally bought the plants and potting soil. Thanks, Mom!

We installed the pocket in our bedroom. It took some pretty heavy duty hardware to hang.  Unfortunately, I drilled one of the anchors in at an angle and it wouldn’t stay. So, we had to re-drill a few inches higher than we planned. Whoops. The giant holes are thankfully covered by the wooly pocket. Good thing we are thinking we will some day try to take that wall down and make our master bedroom bigger. IMG_4825 Anyway, wooly pockets are capable of holding a lot. Our plants are very small, but check out what is possible.14 7 They are designed to hold some huge plants! The images above are multiple wooly pockets hung together. I hope our plants thrive. Here they are pre-planting. We tried to get a variety of plants that will trail with those that will go upright.  IMG_4822 It will look really cool when the plants are big enough to cover the (majority of the) wooly pocket. We will keep you posted as to their life or death. If this system ends up working out well I can see many more pockets coming into our life…IMG_4837 Of course, Ralph helped.IMG_4814 We also planted a cute little striped plant. We kinda have a thing for plants. We have a lot of them… and we are constantly buying more. We are not the most diligent of care takers (hence, the always buying more), but we love them. Greenery is great! And when you can get a cute little plant for under $3, how can you resist?IMG_4841


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Paper Craft Saturday

Today I finally put the finishing touches on a paper craft I started a month or more ago. I wish I had some nice name to call this craft, but everything I can think of is way too cheesy, and the original name on the DIYideas website is ‘freewheelin art’. Blurg. Naming fail. Here are some of the craptastic names I thought of: paper craft circles, circular paper fans, paper wheels, ummm, you get the idea. Lame names.
Anyway, lets not judge this book by its cover, shall we? After all, the actual product is pretty cute.IMG_4810 As I was saying (ahem, typing), I started these wheels a while ago… The only problem was I didn’t create anything for them to properly hang on. They were just precariously balanced on push pins, not a good plan. They are hung over our bed and one too many times (actually, just once would have been too many) one of these plopped down on my face in the middle of the night. Now, they are only made of paper and they are round, so there are no sharp edges to gouge my eyes nor are they heavy and nose crushing, still, a definite nuisance.
However, they are now (finally) equipped with little black ribbons from which to hang. IMG_4798 Simple and, hopefully, effective. 
These fans (or wheels or what-have-you) were really easy to make. I constructed them one evening while watching a movie. The materials you need are: craft paper (double sided is better), crafting glue, paper cutter, clothes pins, a large book (or weight), scissors, and ribbon (or string, or fishing line, or floss even). IMG_4804Here are my 7 all stacked like some bizarre wedding cake. A bit challenging to get them to balance. Perhaps, these could not only be wall decorations, but also children’s stacking toys! ha.
The hardest part for me was consistently getting my folds even.  And, by hardest, I mean impossible. None of my folds were even (might have something to do with my movie watching multi-tasking); therefore, when I glued together the sides they didn’t quite line up. Oh well, a little trim with the scissors on the offending edge and voila. Even.
Here are the instructions and DIY image.PinwheelArtFINAL24 Well, here is my current installation. I’m still playing around with the composition. I’m not super jazzed about it as is, but that is probably because I remember really liking how they were arranged previously (when they were attacking me in my sleep). The push pins are all still in the same spots (luckily, they did not attack. Now that would have been some gouging action), so I just need to keep playing around with which one is where. IMG_4808IMG_4809  Today was actually lovely outside. Unfortunately, I ran out of my allergy pills about a week or so ago and hay fever came a knocking in full force today (which, finally prompted me to actually drive the 5 minutes to Walgreens and pick up some new ones). But, anywho, I was not up for much yard work wise. Some of the neighbors planted another 4 trees this morning (now only 3 to go!). Bill and I also went shopping at the mega home warehouses. We hit up Home Depot first, because we had a 7 month old gift card that needed to get used… Then we headed over to Lowe’s (a whopping 1/2 mile away from our first destination). I don’t know why, but I really prefer Lowe’s to Home Depot. It might just be that I am more familiar with the layout so I can actually find what I am looking for within 10 minutes, it also might be that their indoor gardening section is superior… We pretty much exclusively bought stuff for outside (wheel barrow, shovel, new gardening gloves, plants, and a ton of seed packs). Hopefully by next weekend my allergy meds will be in full operational force and we can get outside and get some more work done. Bill did do some yard work today (what with his lack of allergies). He mowed the lawn and added mulch to our new trees.
Tomorrow looks like it is going to be pretty busy. We have breakfast with friends, an opera matinee (Bill’s first, my second- hope it’s good!), and we both have some work to do (as in our actual paying jobs, not working around the house). Who knows, we might squeeze in a project or two. There is a certain gift that is almost ready to be installed…. Oh, the suspense!