Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Local Fixture (II)

Why the "arty" framing? One of those cool Edison bulbs burnt out the first night we had this installed. Sigh.

We finally ditched* that horrifying-to-us ceiling fan over the dining table for our super cool-to-us new chandelier!  YES!  We are disproportionally excited about these changes, but feel no shame in our excitement. At least I am and don't.  Squeeeeeeeee!

Why the blurry photo? Nighttime and my camera held by my hands.  Meh.

I have been hesitant to consider fixtures exposed light bulbs, because it seems like the light could be harsh, but there's something about this fixture and the Edison bulbs that convinced me to go for it. And we knew we would install a dimmer switch when we installed a new fixture, so we can control the harshness to some degree. I can tell you for sure that I am looking forward to not having bug-catching glass globes!

I decided that I wanted a little more visual heft to the top so I bought a ceiling medallion and painted to blend with the new fixture. It's pretty dang close for working with what I had on hand.  Of course, the medallion isn't quite as big as the base of the fan we ditched (see above), so I need to get that bit of ceiling painted.  It's alllllways something.

But that's not all, people, that_is_not_all: Finally! An end to the alien umbilicus! OK, there's still the little one hiding the wires that connect the TV to the DVD and Roku, but still much better.

Of course, now we really need to address our collegiate-style stool-as-entertainment-center situation. Maybe even get the surround sound speakers, you know, surrounding. 

After two and a half years, we now have an outlet on this wall. POW!  Or maybe ZAP!  We chose a black one to be more subtle on the oxblood wall. Well, we chose a brown one, but they didn't have brown so black it is.  We still have a circuit breaker power strip, so it's not all pretty yet.  Now to more determinedly search for a more grown-up piece in which to store the rest of the AV equipment which should hopefully house the power strip, too.

Now I feel inclined to hunt down a black or brown surge protector power strip.  Sigh.

*I haven't decided if I should donate the fan to one of the local used building materials shops or if I should keep it to use in the shop when we get around to fixing that up to use for more than just storage and treadmill-ing.  I mean, it's still going to be a horrifying-to-me looking fixture, but a free ceiling fan is a free ceiling fan and maybe a coat of spray paint could save it. Maybe?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Street Scene

You know that thing where you're walking to the neighbors' house to look in on their dogs while they're away for the day...

... and you find most of a skull there in the road?  Yeah, that.

See how I used their, they're, and there correctly in one sentence?  Nice.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Local Fixture (Or Two)

I like this ceiling fan... A LOT; probably more than is reasonable to like a ceiling fan*. I bought it for my little house in NE Portland, moved it with me when I moved in with Eric and installed it in that house, and then we brought it with us when we moved here.  The living room had a builders' boob fixture so we installed it right away, from what I remember, but it's never worked.  We weren't sure if that was because it is on a three-way switch or if something is malfunctioning with the radio receiver for the controller or what**.  And since the fan over the dining table worked, it wasn't a big priority to get this one going.

As you can see, however, the fan over the dining table is pretty dated and not our style at all.  And I guess I'm just old-fashioned or something and believe that if possible, there should be a chandelier or other style of hanging fixture over dining tables. I've kept an eye out for a fixture that we think would work nicely there that was an appropriate scale and price. I trawled various discount sites, the local thrift stores and used building materials stores, etc.  The in early March I spotted this one on Joss & Main, ran it by Eric, looked at one more local shop, then ordered it!  Suddenly, the urge to get the "good" fan working came back so we could ditch the other one and install our new chandelier.

To expedite diagnosis and repair of the "good fan" we hired our friend who does remodeling and other handyman type work to fix the non-functional fan. Annnnd it's working!  Spinning in two (2) directions! Shedding light on command!

* I don't even actually like the look of ceiling fans all that much. But they are a smart way to help control temperature in a house and especially since we heat 90% with wood we want to keep that heat down where we live and not at the ceiling.  Since we don't have any duct work for central air, they're a good way to cool the house in summer, too.

** It turns out that the issue was an error in our installation, something I like to call "Eric's Fault."

Next up: Get that chandelier installed and get an outlet added to the wall the TV is installed on to eliminate this:

... which I like to call the "alien umbilicus."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Whose Poop Is This, Anyway?

I spotted this specimen way back at the end of January, but forgot to share it with you. I am sooooo sorry, you guys!

Turns out it was not poop, but a mushroom-type creature.  I try not to judge based on looks, but c'mon!  So poopy.

I think our dry and warm-ish winter has led to a lot more fungus action on the property, which you also may have noticed if you follow my Instagram (@TheMistressT).  I just can't seem to get enough of taking macro shots of mushrooms.

Monday, March 2, 2015

One Step at a Time: The Bathroom Redo Edition. Volume 1

The "plan" was to get going on finally doing the mini-remodel/total redecoration of the main floor bathroom in February.  Since that includes resurfacing the ceiling and the walls, installing a bit of tile, refinishing all the cabinetry, and somehow dealing with the partly-failed parquet floor, plans have shifted in order to compensate for my broken hand. [shakes other fist at sky]  Since I had sewn, installed, and shared the new shower curtain in November, I decided to approach the bloggy part of this project a step at a time, just like I'm approaching it in real life.

When we moved in, we found that the last owners had left a few tubes of partly used wallpaper seam sealer.  And you could tell by the slightly stained look that they'd been applying and reapplying it to the seams of the wallpaper in the main floor bathroom - the room where most of the showers and steam happen.  It didn't take long for us to realize that the paper was mostly not attached to the walls at all any more, but just at the seams: the ceiling, the base moulding, and every 24" where it met itself in vertical stripes down the length of the walls.  The wallpaper is very much of it's 1980s era, not our style or colors, so we knew I'd be removing it at some point.  We never used the sealer and starting in January it finally started to truly just slough off.

About a week ago I suddenly just couldn't take it any more and strode determinedly into the bathroom to rip away at the wallpaper. No tools, no stool; Just what I could get off just standing on the floor, and toilet, kneeling on the counter and pulling at it. I am tall enough to reach the bottom edge of the border, so I got most of it off in probably about 10 minutes.  The backing paper is on there pretty well, so the steamer will have to come into play when the time comes.

Oopsie! We can see where someone left the window open, it leaked, or perhaps someone over watered one of the plants hanging from the there (3) hooks in the ceiling above the window.

If you know me much, you know I like distressed finishes and I actually like this look more than when the wallpaper appeared to be intact and adhering.

But wait! There's more to this step!

From Apartment Therapy

I have been spending some of my Pinterest Time focusing on this bathroom project, I even made the project its own pinboard.  In that time I spotted this pin (above) for styling a train rack. It happens to be the same Restoration Hardware train rack that I brought with us from Portland and I got inspired to combine my interest in fabric bins with this styling idea.

Pinterest and Houzz also helped me decide where to move the train rack when the time comes, i.e not in this corner.

A few-to-several weeks ago on Etsy I found and ordered the perfect material to make some fabric bins with. Well, Murphy's Law went CRAZY and everything that could go wrong did. BUT the seller was super responsive and responsible and eventually the fabric arrived and this last weekend I was able to make the bins.  I looked at several tutorials for fabric bins and ultimately used a combination of these two.  Of course, I made my own measurements and pattern based on the rack's dimensions and went from there.

It's kind of miraculous that the aqua/purple color combination came in such a perfect-for-us print!

I didn't, however, measure the amount of space my rolled towels would take and it turns out I only needed one bin. I'd already cut most of the material for two bins when I realized this and honestly wasn't inspired by the asymmetry of just one bin. Usually asymmetry is more my style, too.  So I went ahead and completed the second bin and will figure out how to fill it when the time comes. I have some ideas brewing and one thing we don't need is any more bath towels. We have as many as we do now, because we stocked up when we thought we'd have 10-12 people here for Mid-May Montana Mountain Mayhem.


Despite what we've determined and intuited in many instances around the place, I am starting to think that the last owners had actual professionals hang the paper.

Found this little gem under the roses near an inside corner over the tub-shower insert.

Or since we have evidence of a previous paper having been in there, perhaps the original owner installed the pink and blue before selling - that might make more sense.

This is under and behind the vanity and of course my flash photo doesn't do it justice. We both like it better than the 1980s pink and blue flowers, but it only lives on in this piece and a tiny strip behind the toilet which I will remove before repairing and refinishing the walls.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Funky Cheese Madonna or How I Used a Candy Mould to Shape Cheese... Like a Boss

What the heck?

Many years ago when Eric and I went on our very first overnight trip together we spent three weeks traveling around the Czech Republic in a rented Skoda Fabia. (yup)

Neato thing: I never noticed the reflection of a human man walking hand-in-hand with a bear cub in Eric's sunglasses before this filter was applied.  Why the filter? Ask the self-proclaimed poopy face (right).  

Of course this economy model didn't have a way to plug an iPod into the stereo, so we listened to Czech radio stations and of course there were the occasional English-language pop songs played... over and over.  Like radio stations do with pop songs. There was one that really sounded like the chorus (and title) had to be "Funky Cheese Madonna."  We learned on one of our last days in country that it was actually something like "she thinks that she's Madonna" ("She's Madonna" by Robbie Williams).

Sooooooooo, I decided to try to make a Funky Cheese Madonna for Eric for Valentine's Day.  Now what?  Well, I found a Virgin Mary chocolate mould on Ebay (like ya' do) and ordered that up in, like, October or November.  What can I say, I'm a planner.  Or prefer to be, anyway.

Then I set about to find Eric's favorite cheese, Cambozola, in Missoula or the Bitterroot.  Not so easy. This is a cheese you can get at Fred Meyer in our old neighborhood in Portland, but Toto, we're not in Portland anymore.  So every different grocery or super market I was in I would stalk the cheese section to no avail. Then I remembered that there was a wine/cheese type shop in downtown Missoula that we'd been recommended for wine.  So I looked them up on the magical interwebz, found their website and emailed their "contact us" address asking if they carried it and if not, is it something I could order.  Well, lo and behold, they replied on a weekend night! And yes they had Cambazola!  WOO!  So I went the pre-Valentine's Day Monday morning after hand therapy and bought two wedges.

I packed them in a brown paper bag and hid them in the back of the "extra" fridge in the top shelf shadows.  Then on the pre-Valentine's Day Thursday, I brought them out in the morning to warm/soften.  After they were what I thought was soft enough, I got out the mold, washed & dried it, and set about packing that funky cheese into Madonna. As it were.

I was able to get both moulds filled with one wedge with just a little extra. For the most part I removed the rind, but there's a little in there for flavor and for lack of interest in fussing with it too-too much.

When they were filled, I double checked for voids on what would be the top surface, filled any I could, then wiped most of the smeared cheese off the non-Madonna part of the mould.  Then I covered that with parchment paper, put the whole thing in a freezer bag and hid it in the crisper in the "extra" fridge.

I let it chill for many hours... like 24-ish... then I was able to pop/coax them out onto a serving stand (a wooden sushi server in this case) and re-refrigerate them until gift giving time. I am sure just a few hours would have been enough, but that didn't work for my secretive schedule.

I am so pleased with how they turned out!  First, that they turned out at all and second that they look like slightly crumbly and mossy old marble.  I had to include a shot that better shows the relief, just because.

Speaking of planning, sometime in early 2014 I was shown this material and I knew I had to make Eric boxer shorts out of it for Valentine's Day.  And luckily, I had reorganized the office/studio in November so one of the moms could stay in there over Thanksgiving weekend. I found the material and remembered/realized why I had it.

  This was also a nice backup should the Funky Cheese Madonna fail.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Funny Valentines

As far as post-worthy things going on here on the side of the mountain, their just hasn't been much.  In one of those household accidents you here about, I ended up breaking my right hand so I am busy recovering from that which includes hand therapy and a splint.  It's a time consuming process both because if I did the exercises as prescribed I'd be looking at 5-6 hours/day of that and because with my right hand limited everything takes longer - including typing*.  All that said, I did manage to dig up most of the Valentine's Day decorations and throw them up!

Mavis is sporting the arrow antlers I made her last year, but has added some bling!  She needed the extra bling, because this year the weather has been decidedly Portland-esque: rainy and overcast (as much as that can be accomplished here).  I bring this up because the dark sky and my skill level with the camera combine to make the shot dark and grainy, but at least that's pretty much what it is like in real life.

Ramon: King of Hearts, Baby!  He gets the overly bright flash treatment.  I really need a reflector for my indoor photo-taking. I say "photo-taking," because "photography" sounds too advanced.

Last year, I received this sparkly piece of awesome in the mail!  This year it hangs in the main floor bath.

I did a Valentine's Swap with some crafty friends last year, too, and got this super-cute mailbox! It's on a shelf in the kitchen this year.

And this adorably charming little nosegay!  Someday I'll find the perfect little sweet thing to put in it for display. Something dogs won't care about.  

 I also received a lovely embroidered tote that I use all year as my reusable shopping bag for the craft store.  SO much love!  I made a Valentine bunting last year, but don't really feel like climbing up the loft ladder with 1.5 hands to retrieve it or on a step stool to hang it.

Despite my limitations, I was able to manage some making for my own Valentine and hopefully I can get some pictures to share that with you after they're received by my Valentine.  For one gift I have assembled the materials, but still haven't attempted the "construction."  This project is uncharted territory, perhaps for anyone. I could not find any information on the interwebz about how to do this with the greatest chance at success.  I hope that means that no one has bothered to try or share, rather than there is little chance at success.

*This entry may be even worse for typos than usual.