Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy winter!

Snow!  In Portland!  Hooray!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reupholstering the dining room chairs.

I bought my dining room set at a consignment shop called Rerun.  I intended to reupholster the chairs early on, but here we are six months later . . .

I finally decided on a fabric from Tonic Living and it was a snap to change it out.  I flipped over the chair and removed the screws that hold the seat to the chair frame.  Then I began the process of removing all the staples.  I used a screw driver and a pair of pliers.

Oh hey, there was another layer of fabric under there!

And another.  Ick.

I made sure to not vacuum before I put the fabric face down on the ground.  That way the fabric would get nice and coated with dog hair.

I cut out a piece of fabric and started stapling it to the chair bottom.  I found this staple gun when I bought the house in a kitchen drawer, along with the aforementioned hammer, and a wrench.  I love free tools.

Then I trimmed the excess fabric away and screwed the seat back onto the chair frame.

It looks so much better, yes?

Then I started on the rest of the chairs.  And promptly ran out of staples.  Damn it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fun finds on craigslist

Since moving in, I've had my record player on a stool and the LPs in a cardboard box.  It didn't look great.  Also, my parents, who had bequeathed me a sizable portion of their LP collection, were coming to visit and I wanted to show that I appreciated them and used them.  There's nothing better than a dance party with records.

I found these bookcases on craigslist and the guy was also selling a display box. 


I cleaned up all the pieces with some Howard Feed-N-Wax wood preserver and bought some metal legs at Ikea for the display box.  I think it's just the right size and height for my record player and LPs.  My only regret is that I didn't buy the second display box he was selling.  I think I could have added legs, fashioned a door for it, and turned it into bar storage.

A pretty rad thing happened when I sold my old pressboard bookcases on craigslist: the buyer told me he grew up on my street and used to play in my house in the 60s!  He asked if the "little house" was still in the backyard.  I told him we had to remove the shed because it was rotting and he told me how much fun he had playing in it as a kid.  He also told me that the family that lived here had two little girls and that they moved to Texas.  It makes me really content to know that people had fun and were happy in this house. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

A wonderful surprise

If I'm watching TV I'm either knitting, doing the crossword puzzle, or scanning craigslist.  I can't just sit and watch TV anymore, which is actually really annoying.  I found an amazing fireplace screen on craigslist one night and joking sent a link over Twitter and said, "Someone buy me this.  I'm serious, I love it."

I came home one night the following week after work to find this:

I think it's amazing.

And I think it looks great in the room, which has gone through a lot of rearranging.



I will not apologize for my Battlestar Galactica prints.

The fireplace screen was left, of course, by Bill.  He happened to be going to Sellwood, where the seller was, and picked it up.  He had been carrying it around in his car, waiting for a good time to sneak it into the house.  And yet I still made him help me with the installation of the garbage disposal.  Seriously, I'm a rotten friend.  I don't deserve him.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A proper range hood

There was no ventilation in my kitchen over the stove.  I did have this charming little shelf, however.

I love that shelf.

But trying to sear meat or do anything that created a lot of steam was a real pain.  I'd end up smoking out the whole house.  I hired a contractor to put in a hood because it involved cutting cabinets, electricity, duct work, and going into the attic where THE SPIDERS, OH MY GOD, THE SPIDERS are.

Did I mention I did this the Friday before Thanksgiving?  I'm stupid.

This was messy business.

It was totally worth the mess.  He even cut down my shelf so I still have a place to put my salt and pepper. I'm not sure how I would have pulled off Thanksgiving without it.  My only regret is that I bought a used hood on craigslist rather than buy a new one.  This hood is old so it will be difficult or impossible to get replacement parts, and it's LOUD.  Good thing I'm sort of deaf.  Bummer to be my perfect-hearing roommate!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Trees! Plants!

Remember these?

They were replaced by the teensy tiniest Japanese bloodgood maples. I'm now accepting bets for how long it will take for one of the neighbor kids to hang on them and damage them.

This picture also serves as proof that there is absolutely no reason to water your lawn in the summer.  It comes back just fine in the fall!  I highly recommend digging holes on Thanksgiving weekend. All the rain makes the ground very soft and the extra turkey weight helps with the shoveling.

I also did some planting in the side yard: shade loving ferns, bleeding hearts, and hostas.


No trampy ferns in my yard.  These ferns are *ladies*.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The new garbage disposal!

When my parents came to visit they generously asked about a housewarming gift, and was there anything (aside from many, many fattening and delicious restaurant meals) that they could get me?  I responded, "Oh, gosh, I don't know, you don't need to get me anything . . . A GARBAGE DISPOSAL, ohpleasebuymeanewgarbagedisposal."  I'm subtle.

My old garbage disposal had some bolts and metal parts rattling around in it when I moved in.  I fished those metal parts out, but I suspect they were pieces that actually helped the disposal work.  The disposal could sort of grind up things, as long as they were soft, like tomatoes.  Anything more solid than that (apple peels, potato, lettuce) would just sort of bounce around in there until I fished it out with a spoon.  My roommate had more faith in it and would put all manner of things down it, which I would later have to fish out.

My parents and I trekked to The Home Depot and looked at disposals.  They have a helpful little box with buttons that let you hear how loud the disposal is supposedly going to be.  They have a button for the super expensive disposal (Insinkerator) which sounds like your mother, humming as she rocks you to sleep.  The next step down (still an Insinkerator) sounds marginally louder, more like someone clearing their throat.  The third button is for the Badger brand.  It sounds like a motorcycle which is being destroyed by a snarling bear with a chainsaw.

"You're not getting a Badger," Dad decreed.

They bought me an Insinkerator and even offered to pay to have it installed but I'M AN IDIOT, so I said I'd install it myself [meaning: I'd call Bill and make him flounder through it with me].  How hard could it be?

You just remove the pipes and cut the electricity to the old disposal.

You twist the unit off of the flange and disconnect the electrical wires.

Easy, breezy!  We're like a Covergirl commercial up in here, except that I neglected to shower that day, so Bill got to be all cozy with my stink, under the sink.  I'm a rotten friend.

Spend the next TWO AND A HALF HOURS trying to unscrew the flange without damaging your very old sink.  Call your friend Keith, who's in grad school and trying to write papers, for help.  Call the hardware store and see if they have any tips.  Roll your eyes when they tell you they're not familiar with the Sinkmaster 750 and just how old is it?  Finally take a screwdriver and hammer and bust the flange off, using brute force and a couple of good swear words.

High fives!  Your flange has been freed in a storm of winging plastic shards!

Give Bill a beer while you speculate about what type of superepoxy they used to glue this cusser together.  It was probably the stuff that they use to hold bridges together.

Start installing the new disposal.  This is so much easier!

Bemoan the fact that your old pipes don't fit up with your new disposal.  What a difference an inch makes.  Put all these pipes in a bag and take them to The Home Depot where you buy new pipes and extenders.  The next step is very important:

*Leave the bag of old pipes sitting on the floor at The Home Depot.*

Get home and realize that you left the bag of old pipes at the hardware store and pray that your new pipes will all work.

Thank your lucky stars that they work!  Make sure that one page of instructions, the part where they tell you to punch a hole in the dishwasher input so your dishwasher can drain through the unit, is folded under so you don't see it.  Test the disposal and scratch your head over the fact that your dishwasher now won't drain.  Really start sweating because Thanksgiving is next week and you're hosting ten people and sweet jesus, do you ever need your dishwasher to be working.

Take the disposal apart and then finally realize that you missed a page of instructions.  Punch that small-but-important hole in the dishwasher input and then marvel over the fact that everything works and nothing seems to be leaking.

Buy Bill dinner and promise him that you'll never ask him to help with home repair again, but keep your fingers crossed behind your back.

Get super excited about your new disposal which is super quiet and super effective.  Ignore that guy from high school on Facebook who claims he used to be a plumber and that garbage disposals cause more problems than they fix.  Also ignore your friend who tells you that you should never put food down your drain because it's bad for the water quality.  Pout that NOBODY EVER LETS ME HAVE ANY FUN while you feed orange peels down the drain, just for fun. 


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Don't look under the trivet.

In my kitchen, adjacent to the old fan in the ceiling that needs to be removed, was a wooden trivet.

I've been ignoring it for almost six months. There's no reason to screw a trivet into your kitchen ceiling, therefore there *must* be something really terrible behind it.  The week before I was to host Thanksgiving I decided to deal with this.  I know.  I know!  I'm dumb; there's no reason to start projects like these when you're attempting to orchestrate a meal for ten people.

Hey there, big hole.  Holes are actually no big deal, but this hole had screws that extended from the attic, through the lathe and plaster, and past where the kitchen ceiling should end.  Hence the former owner screwing a trivet there instead.

Ha ha, just kidding, that makes no sense, no matter how you dice it.

In order to patch the ceiling I would need to get the screws reversed enough to not poke through.  I didn't want to climb into my attic and dig around it the insulation for the rogue screws for a lot of good reasons, but mostly because of SPIDERS, OH MY GOD, SPIDERS.  I decided to try and reverse the screws from below.  I tried a number of things that didn't work and then one thing that worked really well.  This was my recipe for success:

Take your drill.  I love my drill.  There would much wailing if anything happened to it.

Remove the drill bit.

Spin it until the grabbers are extended really far.

Tighten the grabbers around the end of the screw.  Then depress the trigger and reverse the screws back into the ceiling.  I'm sure an expert would tell you that this is back for your drill or bad for the screws or bad for the environment, but I don't care (and you shouldn't) because it worked.  Once that's taken care of you can patch the ceiling like normal.

 Apply your patch.

Apply spackle, using a large trowel.  Let it dry and apply more if you need to. 

Sand it.  Boy does this part ever suck.  Wear a mask and protective eyewear and know that it won't make a lick of difference because you will be *coated* in dust.  Think about how you should be making cranberries and sewing napkins for Thanksgiving dinner.  But also think, "Hey, now I have a trivet."

Slap a coat of paint on the ceiling and think, "I'll texture that spot on the ceiling later."  Ignore for 3-5 years.  Enjoy your free trivet!