Someone Stole My Camera

Not in the theft sort of way. The kids and I had friends over. I wanted to talk to my friend, the mom, uninterrupted, so I gave them the camera and sent all three to the “play basement.” It’s interesting to see what’s important to a pre-schooler. Also, now you’ll see that we have an unfinished basement with a play area in it. We had electricity put in all around, added foam flooring and now have a 132 sq ft place for kids to make a mess play. Even Peter now has room for Rock Band.

And just so no one worries. Yes, we tested for radon and yes it’s well below the legal limits. And no there are no chemicals stored down there (that’s what under the bathroom sink is for, silly. I jest.). And yes, my holiday junk and kids’ too big clothing and things that need to go to charity really are all in clearly marked bins, nicely stacked along one wall. Notice, though, I’m not posting pictures of my 2-car garage that holds one car. Ahem.

Audrey took that last picture of Elliot in her room. Which, if you were around for the great color choice of 2007 (hmmm, follow up to post any day now – I’m sure) you had a part in choosing the paint on the walls. I think maybe, that someone’s room has not been clean enough to photograph in the last year and that is why you haven’t seen pictures. Kids are leaving for two weeks next month. I’ll photograph everything clean. Even the dog.

As for the basement. We’re going to seal the walls and floors, hang some colorful artwork, put a craft area somewhere as well as a dress up area. We considered finishing the basement in a more traditional sense, but a) have you seen the economy lately and b) why cover up concrete? all the cool kid lofts have it exposed.

Anyone have any experience with acid staining concrete? Tell me all about it!

Craigslist to the Rescue

I hate throwing away anything that might have value to someone else. Take for example the tricycle I plucked out of a neighbor’s trash (in her defense she was hoping someone would) and gave to another friend to rehab and use for their son. Maybe the husband got carried away?

Nah.

But more than throwing away things that still have life in them, I abhor paying other people to throw things away for me. We had a deck on the back of our house.

It was a fine deck, served its purpose but not terribly well suited for a family with small children. Our neighbor said it’s a redwood deck. We believed him since he helped build it. It was also over-engineered. Screws (not nails) – 2 per joist per board, joists every 16 inches – it’s like they were building a house foundation.

We wanted a concrete patio and got a few bids. All the bids included demo and removal of the deck. But if it’s redwood, surely it had some value, right? Not to the concrete guys. So I placed an ad on our local Craigslist listing the redwood for free if you dismantled and hauled it away. Nearly immediately I had a furniture maker call me. He came over the following Saturday and removed all the decking. He also said it was really good redwood and will make lovely outdoor benches and tables.

He left behind the pressure treated lumber.

Another post on Craigslist. Another taker. In the end our deck was dismantled and hauled away by people other than us and for free!

We kept the materials out of the landfill and lowered the cost of our patio since they didn’t have to do any demolition. It was a total win.

The next time you have things that still have life in them just not room in your life, check out Craigslist. You may not make a penny, but you’ll keep stuff from the landfill. Remember, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. And it makes for good community.

Do you have any good Craigslist stories? That antique dresser that you finally found? The dining table you’re going to rehab? Share!

Dwell Linens

I am a huge fan of the Dwell Studio line for Target. Well, actually I’m a fan of Dwell Studio. It just so happens I can afford it at Target. And doubly afford it when it’s on CLEARANCE.


I like using cloth napkins. I even let the kids use them. The kids get at least two uses out of a napkin. Let’s be honest here, they’re only using one side to wipe their mugs. And since I didn’t spend an arm and a leg on them I don’t sweat it. If they don’t come quite clean in the wash, well – I just won’t give that one to a guest. But since these are off-white I’ll keep preschooler paws off them for awhile.

We can eat like grown ups on matching placemats that don’t have the alphabet or Sesame Street on them. These, for now at least, will be my fancy company linens. And for 1/2 price! Not that I think my company is only worth $1.99, but that leaves more money in the coffers for the expensive drink.

The scratches on the dining table can be covered with the runner. That right there is saving the cost of a new dining table. Too bad I’ll soon need new dishes to match my clearance linens. What’s the chance I’ll find those on clearance too?

I can’t believe what a grown-up dining room we’ll have. Matching linens. Paint on the wall. Linens coordinate with the drapes. My plan is slowly coming together. Now, if I had only intended it this way from the start …

Fireplace Update

Where once there was this

Now there is this

We tiled the fireplace 1 1/2 years ago, just six months after moving into the house. I insisted on having it done for my annual Christmas cookie exchange. And it was! Mostly. It just needed to be grouted. Funny how at the last party it still needed to be grouted. I hope that it’s not in need of grout at this year’s party. Grout isn’t so tough that it takes two years to get done. Baseboard? Well, that’s completely different.

Back to tile.

This tile was very easy to do. The 1″ square tiles are attached to paper on their pretty side making them into square foot sheets. You don’t have to apply and space each tile individually – that would take forever. Butter the wall and the tile with mastic, stick the tile to the wall, wash the paper off the front side. Done! Or at least that’s where we stopped.

We were drawn to this color palette because I thought it left us with a lot of choices; we wanted something flexible. We hadn’t chosen a color for the walls (that was done April 2008) or anything else in the house. Our hope was that with the small space around the fireplace we could commit to a lot of color without overwhelming the whole room.

If you need a punch of color I highly recommend mosaic tile. It’s easy to install. It can fit into a variety of budgets. It’s easy to clean! After it’s grouted it looks like you did a very detailed job, no one needs to know that it was easy peasy. Well, until you blog about it.

Gallery Wall

I sincerely love the people at 3M. In graduate school I heard the CIO from 3M speak. He said that they had a mandate that the organization had to take three new products to market per year. Everyone worked toward that goal. And because of that drive! that determination! I was able to hang our pictures without gazillions of holes in the wall. Which is good because I had l already punched a million holes in the walls in the last iteration. But now! Now our pictures are mostly held up with velcro.

I really like the 3M adhesive strip picture hooks, but they don’t work well on every type of frame. The velcro strips work on any frame that has a smooth, flat back surface. In all, I only had to put two holes in the wall. There’s a frame that has a velvet (maybe not real velvet, something fuzzy & black) and a teeny tiny angled hanger. It required two holes because my spatial relations are poor. Also, I was able to realign pictures to get them level, or at least level relative to their neighbors.

These velcro strips aren’t inexpensive. But, for the minimal packaging (yeah! less trash), the minimal plastic and the forgiving nature of the product I pink puffy heart them.

PS: if you’re from 3M, feel free to send me more! I have more pictures that need to be hung.

Dude, Where’s My Furniture?

Our family room, sans furniture

Our living room, with two rooms of furniture in it. And little sprites that only the camera can see.

All in preparation for this to be installed

And yes, most of the walls are still builder white. We’re working on it! Also, if you’ve been to our house in the last year and admired the tile on the fire place – thank you. And no, it’s still not grouted. Why rush into these things?

I Have Smart Readers!

I love it when I have the good sense to surround myself with people smarter than myself. Reader Dana gave me some great pointers about painting rooms. She suggests using foam board to test colors instead of my walls and recommends this site. But, if I had done these things Audrey’s room wouldn’t look like this three weeks after my burst of creativity.

Audrey's Room

It might actually be painted and stuff. I don’t know how I feel about completing a home improvement project I start. I jest. I do know how I feel about it. In this house I’m the instigator, Peter is the closer. Don’t mess with what works!

Color Chosen

Maybe.

We’ll have to look at in the morning light to know for sure. I followed some sound advice and ventured out of the coral section of paint chips. I came home with two new options: Mermaid’s Song and Purple Gala.

blue & purple

Again, the camera doesn’t really do them justice. Here’s the blue color, the one I’m leaning toward, on another wall, same time of day.
blue

The current thinking: paint one wall and if it’s TOO bright, paint the others the lightest color on the same card. If that’s hideous, we’ll just move. Painting over blue paint is really difficult.

Everyone prepare yourselves… I’ll want to paint the master bedroom soon. Imagine the headache that’s going to cause. If a kid’s room took 6 samples, how many will mine take? Maybe we can have a pool.

Color Me Confused

I really want to paint Audrey’s room this week. The paint sample has been in the garage for weeks. We finally put it on the wall this weekend. And now. Now, I’m not so sure. It looked a little too bright. Or neon. Or garish. Hard to say. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love color. But there is something about this green that’s unsettling. Maybe. Yesterday I drug the kids to Lowe’s to look for a new color. I left with three more samples. None of them green. And now that two of them are on the walls, maybe I like the green? The third sample didn’t make it to the wall test because it looks a lot like the orange on Elliot’s wall. We are under strict instruction from him that his sister’s room cannot be orange like his. And since I want to paint our room orange, I can see his argument. Too much orange upstairs.

Here’s a flikr set of the colors on the walls in a variety of light and flashes and angles. What do you think?

flikr

I sorta like all three colors together. Maybe I can paint a grid and fill it with all the colors? And be done with her room sometime when she’s in high school…

A Parking Space of One’s Own

This is our two-car garage with TWO cars IN it. Well, technically three if you count the dumptruck parked precariously behind my car’s rear-tire.

In our 6+ years as happy homeowners only my car lived in the garage. But when we bought this house a short 15 months ago we noticed the garage was larger than our last. It seemed reasonable that both cars could reside in the garage. It only took 15 months to unpack everything. We also made money on the whole cleaning/organizing/unpacking deal. I returned lots of odds & ends (that I had purchased with the best of intentions) to a big-box hardware store. And there’s the stuff that was listed on Craigslist.

But I do feel a little uneasy. Like we’re in an alternate dimension. Isn’t it a little un-American to park two cars in a two-car garage?
garage

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