Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Crunching Footsteps

"Is that...?" "Hey, it's snowing!" "It's really coming down." "Yeah, but it never sticks." "I know."
This was the conversation yesterday afternoon standing in my kitchen with my friend Leah looking out the picture window. A couple of hours later, there were inches of snow. Kids were sledding down my street. I ended up walking to a party I went to last night - couldn't drive in the stuff. It was actually quite beautiful. The side streets were pretty quiet and you could hear the crunch of your feet in the snow. It was already starting to melt when I left the party a few hours later. These pictures were taken this morning of what was left. When I went out today, there were some sad, melting snowmen sort of tilting over, their heads really small. Tonight it's mostly gone.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Alternative Energy

Wish I could harness some of the static electricity in this house to save on my power bill. I could sell the excess back to the grid. It's either static or, as I sometimes believe, this house is haunted.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Holiday Sale

The date has finally arrived!
Come out to find all sorts of amazing handcrafted goodness!
One day only! Tomorrow! Be there!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Everyday Engineering Miracle

"Morning dew reveals a spider's web on the outskirts of Bhubaneshwar, India."
Photo: Biswaranjan Rout / AP

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ice Skating Anyone?

I have a tiny pond in my backyard. With temperatures dipping into the teens last night (and currently in the mid-20s!), the little guy froze completely solid.

A bit colder that we are used to here in Portland, the inside of the house was frigid too. When I woke up, my bedroom was around 42°! I know this because my alarm clock has a temperature gauge on it.

If I had leeeettle ice skates, I would go for a couple of spins around the rink. Watching over the pond is a moss-faced garden gnome that came with the house. The cement blocks in the pond are part of some sort of fountain - I think - which I will hopefully get working. In the spring. When it thaws. And it's not so cold.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Curly Girl Black Friday

Avoid the mall (like the plague!) and buy handmade this holiday!
For this weekend only
- until midnight PST Monday 11/30 -
I'm offering
on all jewelry in my Etsy shop.
Just click on the pictures on the right to be
whisked off to the wonderful world of Curly Girl.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kitchen Calm Blue

What a difference a $20 can of paint can make! The challenge here was to find a color (uh, not beige) that would go with the wood cabinets, copper tile, bronze-colored appliances, beige counter tops and burnt orange carpet. I wanted to go to the cool end of the spectrum. I wanted something bold and bright, but calming. The little curtain/valances were something I had from my old house and just happened to not only go with the paint color, but actually pulls everything together. Until I can get around to completely redoing the kitchen, I really like what my small investment in paint and time has done. I'm thinking I've brought this kitchen right on up to the 90s!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Deflowering the Kitchen

I was going to wait. Really I was. But then one evening, waiting for my tea water to boil, I picked at a little corner. Just to see what was underneath. It was idle curiosity. Next thing I know, I'm peeling the orange wallpaper off of the kitchen. Thing is, it's vinyl so it neatly and easily comes off in complete sheets. Not to say that it doesn't leave residue and not to say that there isn't still the old wallpaper beneath, but it was just soooo satisfying. Getting rid of the old, feeling like I was doing something constructive (yet hopefully temporary) to update the kitchen. Frankly, I found the shiny 70s flowery stuff pretty oppressive. Once done, the room actually felt bigger. Maybe it was just me. Here are some pictures of the deflowering in progress. I've already started to paint too - pictures to follow.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wallpaper Archeology

When I started to peel the kitchen wallpaper, I naturally exposed the layer beneath. The floral paper that came with the kitchen (at the left in the photo) was probably put up in the 70s. The paper underneath has a distinctly French feel and, I think, is from the 50s. Maybe even the 40s. I love how the color palettes are pretty much the same. The beige areas are the backing paper from the vinyl flower stuff. I haven't found anything underneath these even though the house is from 1911. I do have more than a passing wonder about the people who picked out these papers and lived with them for so many years.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Today's Reality Check: Child Labor

"Sweatshop boys: Twenty years after the U.N. adopted a treaty guaranteeing children's rights, Bangladeshi kids are still working in factories like this balloon workshop in Kamrangir Char. While fewer youngsters are dying and more are going to school, an estimated 1 billion still lack essential services."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chilly Basement Bathroom

To the left is the bathroom in the basement. This is actually after I clean it up. There were several colors of paint, rusty pipes, wall needing patching, etc. I've painted all the walls (in the rest of the basement too) and pipes one color so - I tell myself - it looks industrial, not just crappy. The color is actually a warm beige, depends on the light though.

This is right outside my studio/office and is currently the only shower in the house. In other words, I use this bathroom a lot. For some reason, the builders of this facility couldn't see their way clear to actually putting the wall all the way to the ceiling. Therefore, when you shower all the heat is gone by the time you step out. This is in the basement and it's November. It's a bit nippy. I needed a cheap, quick, but hopefully not totally unattractive fix for this problem. After much thought of options, I naturally came to draping something. I was hoping for something that wouldn't get yicky too. My cheap solution: a clear shower curtain, sliced up, hole punched and strung on monofilament. I'm happy to report that it works! Because it is accordioned it still lets in some air (good) and light (good), while also keeping the warm air in (also good).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Today's Reality Check

"Manna from heaven: Girls collect sorghum grain spilled from split bags that were airdropped over the village of Pochalla, Sudan. The United Nations World Food Program has resumed food airdrops into remote southern areas for some 155,000 people cut off by poor roads or regional conflicts."

More info about the UNWFP is here.

Photo: Peter Martell / AFP / Getty Images

Thursday, October 29, 2009

That 50s Bathroom

I don't know if I can say enough about the horror that is the bathroom on the main floor. Let me count the ways: billion year old black laminate; pink sparkly wallpaper (not meant to be ironic), pink plastic tiles; a homemade plywood vanity; a safety bar for a towel rack - with (count 'em) 4 actual towel racks in the tub; the giant, but not very useful medicine cabinet; the buzzing fluorescent light fixture (of the kind found hanging in cheap Chinese restaurants) so great for applying make-up to; the ceramic fishies with gold ceramic bubbles decorating the wall above the tub; and finally, the wooden toilet seat that really brings the whole thing together. The tub itself is a large cast iron thingee that I will have to redecorate around. There isn't a shower - even though there is a shower curtain(?) - and it has this weird little spigot that would be impossible to either take a quick sit-down bath with or actually fill the tub. I have already begun to delaminate. The tub is actually heavily encased in wood. I thought it might be a clawfoot, but I now don't think so. I think the wood is original, as is the laminated rim around the tub. Fortunately, the tub fits end-to-end in the space it's in and I will be able to easily plumb a shower over it. I'm going to tile the tub surround, the face of the tub, and the floor. Add a smaller vanity, a non-tilted toilet*, a real non-buzzing light fixture and some n0n-sparkly paint, a functional medicine cabinet and I will be a much happier camper. If you've got some inspiration for this little room, I'm open to any ideas...

*Yes, I bought the Fun House. Everything has a tilt or angle to it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Today's Reality Check: 350

"Melted away: For years, Glacier Chacaltaya in the Bolivian Andes was known as the world's highest ski run, but since the mid-90s, it has not had enough snow for skiing. Protesters held a demonstration on the glacier to call attention to climate change."

For information about the importance of 350, visit

Thursday, October 15, 2009

That 70s Kitchen

Ah, the kitchen...
In this case, these pictures really are worth my thousand words. From the orange and yellow floral wallpaper and the stunning valances to the appliances and drop ceiling with plastic panels (I think there are 4 different types!) with buzzing fluorescent lights, this kitchen is a world of wrong in a small space.

Don't forget to take in the burnt orange carpeting - yes, carpet in the kitchen. If the refrigerator looks kind of small, well, it does only measure about 4' tall. We are pretty sure the 40 year old oven has almost never been used as it's shiny clean inside and still has all the attachments. The part that I (really) do love is the copper tiling on the back splashes and I'm thinking any redo will have to retain or reuse them. Unfortunately, it's going to be this way for quite a while. It's pretty far down on my list of things to get done in this house. I'm hoping that a stopgap measure of removing the nausea-inducing wallpaper will hold me for the time being.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Today's Laugh (?)

Sorry, that was as big as I could make it. Click on it to actually be able to read it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Doing the Floors

I knew that all the floors - beside the kitchen and bath - on the main were hardwood under the carpet. I wanted to have them all refinished before I moved in. If you've ever experienced going through this while living in a house, you know it's not pleasant. Has to happen when you and your stuff aren't there, if possible. Thing was that I couldn't tear up the carpet to let the floor guy check them out until I actually owned the place. I got the keys Thursday afternoon and he came over Friday, so Thursday night I started pulling the carpets. I thought best-case-scenario that he'd be able to start maybe Monday or Tuesday and I'd have the weekend to get the work done. He said he could get a guy in to start on Saturday!! This meant that all the carpet, padding, tack strips and staples needed to be gone by then. Thank goodness for the kindness and brawn of my friend Pete, who came over Friday and busted his ass for several hours helping me get it all done (thankyou! thankyou! thankyou!). Here's a "in progress" pix of pulling the carpets in the LR and DR. The bedroom floors had unfortunately been painted too and will take extra work (and $$) to get fixed, but I've been assured they will be beautiful.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Living Room and Dining Room BEFORE

First, from the DR looking into the LR and the foyer. As you can see, this lovely craftsman has had most of the craftsman stripped out of it. The former owners also have covered every vertical surface with either paneling or wallpaper (some of it sparkly!). I'm dying to know what's behind this paneling around the fireplace. I have this fantasy that there are actually windows - like most craftsman houses and that they haven't been "altered". I'll only know once I pull it. Can't tell from the outside either as it has (lovely woodgrain) aluminum siding. The second two photos are looking into the DR - and further into the kitchen - with it's painted (shit brown) box beam ceiling. In the fourth picture you can see the (closed) door leading up to the second floor. The righthand open door leads into the hall, the bedrooms and bathroom.

Needless to say, I have "a project" on my hands

Friday, October 9, 2009

Today's Reality Check

"No school today, or ever: Zubaida, an Afghan girl, holds her younger sister as she poses in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province. Eight years after the fall of the Taliban, most Afghan children--especially girls--still don't attend school and face the prospect of a life of poverty no different from their parents. Only about 13 percent of females over 15 years old can read or write -- compared to 43 percent for males."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Got Keys?

Today I got the keys to my new house. Now the fun begins. Soon to follow will be some "before" pictures and you will see just what I have gotten myself into. From what I can tell, the second (later today and tomorrow) I pull up the carpet and strip even one room of it's wallpaper, I will have gained equity in this house!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Today's Inspiration

"In this Sept. 19, 2009, photo released by Jumptown, Jane Bockstruck, below, free-falls with her tandem sky diving instructor Paul Peckham in Orange, Mass. It was the first jump for the 92-year-old Swanzey, N.H., resident." She was celebrating her birthday!
(AP Photo/Jumptown, P.J. Jackson)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Today's Art Picture

"Ponzi scream: In Beijing, the sculpture "What You See Might Not Be Real" by artist Chen Wenling portrays the golden bull of Wall Street goring a horned Bernie Madoff in the assets."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sewer Scare

So far, the inspections have gone incredibly well. Then we got to the sewer scope. Here in Portland, when you buy a house, you have someone come out and put a camera down from the house, out the sewer pipes, and out to the sewer main to make sure it's clear and not broken or leaking.
While I wasn't there for this one, it sounded weird. He couldn't tell where the scope went, it went out for a realllly long way, stuff like that. It was a "party line" (connected with your neighbors - not good) and he saw broken pipe (also not good). This was going to have to be fixed prior to the closing and it might take a while to complete that process. It could put off closing by a while. Part of me relaxed because it gave me more time to take care of all the things I need to do to move, but it also meant waiting, another month's rent, and moving in November - October is a much better month to be crazy in with respect to work. BUT, the next day I got a call from my agent telling me it was a mistake, it's all good and in fine condition. The scary part is the City's problem, not mine (confirmed with the City's sewer people). Phew. It means the closing date is still the 8th and I'm starting to have that deer-in-the-headlights look about me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I bought a house.

Yeah, I bought a house. What a freaking week! Last Thursday I went to look at yet another house. I've been house hunting for a looooong time. I don't get too excited about these things anymore, but when I see what looks like a good house, reasonably priced and pretty close to where I'd ideally live, I had to go. Not too much time to think about it: wander through for a bit and make a decision. A house like this will be snatched up, so you have to jump on it. I did. By Friday afternoon, I was officially "sale pending." Things have gotten progressively stressful since then. I spent several days in agitated turmoil trying to figure if I was nuts, what was I doing, and it's not perfect - should I keep searching for perfect? It hasn't been pretty. (A huge thank you to those of you who have been listening to me babble on - more than normal - about my house angst. You know who you are.)

Main inspection was yesterday and, happily, very clean. A couple of others are in the offing. If all goes well, I will have a new home October 8. The previous owners maintained the house very well, but had not-great taste. They did some seriously "unfortunate" updating, which stopped sometime in the 70s. This will be a long-term-project house. I have grand plans, but not a grand bank account. Baby steps. There will be future pictures of the paneling, various wallpapers and peculiarities as I document the "before" of the house.

Did I mention that my stress level is through the roof?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Unexpected Bounty

Ok, maybe bounty is too broad a word for this...
Last spring I found this onion happily growing in my cabinet. --->
I thought two things: 1) I really should cook more often, and 2) if this onion is trying so hard to grow, I really should plant it. While I only cook a bit more than before, I did put the growing onion in a planter box I have. I live in an apartment, so this was as good as gardening was going to get for me. I even remembered to water it every now and again! It seemed to doing ok, but it wasn't really flourishing and after a fashion I gave up on/forgot about it. Yesterday I was poking around in the dirt and pulled out what I thought would be the shrived roots and found this! Guess I'm going to have to cook them this time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Once in a lifetime.*

* Usually.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I don't often buy the just-add-water-type of meals. They usually aren't very good and they tend to come in packaging that just goes straight to the landfill. But, I was out the other day picking up a couple of things for camping and thought I'd try one that looked better than most (how easy when camping to pop it open dump in some boiling water and have a semi-decent hot meal in 3 minutes?). Honestly, it was ok, not great, just ok. And then I was left with the packaging.

The container the "Auntie Chun's" soup bowls come in is actually a harder plastic and it has a lid. Had to use it for something. Ding: new planter.

I marked some spots and drilled a bunch of drain holes in the bottom and along the bottom edge with my flex-shaft.

The containers are a nice, innocuous beige and when using the lid as the planter bottom, the name is even hidden. It's big enough for smaller plants or starters, and the lid has divots that collect a bit of over-watering. Although I didn't try, I'm guessing they are also paintable with the right material.

Both me and my plants are happy with the results.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Is it really September already? What happen to August? Where did the summer go? I'm trying to make up for it be going on a couple of short camping trips and eating as much as I can of the last of the summer fruit. Both things have had a positive effect.