Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Things I love this week

So, I took a bunch of pictures to stuff to post here and babble about, but i used the real camera instead of my cell phone and man, getting pics off an actual camera is harder than getting them off the iphone.

Instead of that, I am going to link to some things I am reading about in blog land that I think are awesome in some way or other.

  • I always love Mrs. Lilien's blog, but I am basically head over heels with this whole set of bike awesomeness.  
  • Whatever your thoughts are on organic food (I'm pro!), this little girl's project and video are basically adorable.
  • Maillardville Manor  Manor is becoming my new fave blog, and this cupcake stand project is really helping.  ZOMG.  
  • Do you guys know about Picnick?  I saw this somewhere I can't remember now, but it appears to be web based photoshop kinda.  Imma check it out because Photoshop is kinda pricey.
  • The weather has been a little cooler, and I am totally ready to bake cookies.  This cool kickstarter project has a way to make cutout cookies with no waste.  Srsly?  
  • Jeff keeps taunting me by telling me that we are going to leave the old kitchen without any drywall, just studs.  He stopped doing that when I told him about The Lettered Cottage's wonder wall, an oldie but goodie.  
Sunset on the lake
It's almost Labor Day weekend, which I think means some time at the lake for us, so because I feel bad posting anything without a picture, here's some lake pictures with the fam from the last year.

Hold my calls, mommy
Happy Tuesday everyone!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why We Bought This House

I would like to tell you that we bought this house because it was the best deal for the money in the school district we wanted to be in.  (Those things are all true.  From our porch, we can see the local elementary school, which is a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence or something.)

I would also like to tell you that we bought this house because the location is perfect: tree lined streets, two blocks to restaurants, parks, schools, another five blocks to Uptown and the farmer's market, three blocks to the trolley.  (Those things are also all true.  Last night we walked to the Italian place for dinner and then to the park.  Last week, Jeff and I took the trolley downtown to go to the Steelers preseason game so we could both drink and get home.  Glorious.)

I think I might be lying, though, if I told you those things.  I think the real reason I bought this house is the windows.

Beautiful castle window.
Ignore the fake plastic brick.  It's on The List.
The houses in our neighborhood were all built in the early to mid 1920s.  We're in a suburb, one of the first streetcar suburbs, as I understand it.  It's fairly urban, though, which is why we can walk to so many things.  Urban-type living comes with houses that are fairly close together.  Now, I'm from Mount Washington, where the houses are under 2' apart, so it doesn't bother me in the slightest.  There's like a double driveway width between the houses here!  You'd fit an entire freakin' house there on the Mount.

All of the windows on the first floor (and one on the 2nd floor in the stairwell) that face the houses to either side of ours are stained glass, original to the home as far as I can tell.   When the sun shines through them, they are pretty much fantastic.  Even when the sun doesn't shine through them, you're not staring at your neighbor's porch.

View from our dining room
This did not go unnoticed by me when we were looking for places.  Another house for sale on this same street, in this same near-perfect for us location had replaced the pretty stained glass with plain windows.  Not interested.  (Also, the garage on that one was kinda falling down.  It had a bigger, new kitchen even, but no dice.)

In fact, when we built the kitchen, I designed it to have something like clerestory windows so we'd get the light in, but not stare at the guy next door's dog all the time.
Kitchen Windows
We briefly lost this house to a higher offer, so we kept looking.  We found another place we were preparing an offer on, a bit too far away, a great deal bigger, and it had all of it's original windows.  Not stained glass.  That house went contingent while we were getting our offer together, and then the original buyers on our place couldn't get a mortgage, so we were back in line with our secure mortgage, our plans to add on, and our love of pretty windows.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The List

Last weekend, which seems like a month ago, but was really only like 6 days.  Oh, yeah, anyway, last weekend a friend asked me what was left to do in the house.  Man, that's a long list.

Here it is


  • Build a powder room and mud room in the old kitchen.
  • Replace exterior door into the mudroom.
  • Railing for mud room door.
  • Tear out fake plastic brick wall in living room.
  • Tear out and center the fireplace in living room.  and build a new one.
  • Construct built-ins and add matching (custom milled, to match the original) trim around the stained glass windows.
  • Re-Concrete driveway.
  • Refinish or replace hardwood floors.  
    • We're leaving the boring carpet in place until the rest of the work is done.  We're smart.
  • Replace windows in the mudroom, master bedroom, and bath.
  • Gut and remodel the 2nd story bath.  Probably down to studs.  Probably also involves some plumbing.  
  • Take over the closet in Thomas's room and make it into a double closet in the master.
  • Build a new closet in the weird shaped cubby in Thomas's room.  
    • I think Jeff thinks we can skip this, but I think that's a bad plan.  If we don't build it when we take over the other one, we never will.  
  • Refinish basement!  Including:
    • Man Room
    • Laundry Room
    • 3/4 bath
    • Storage and craft room
  • Attic: what do we do here?  I don't know!  something about the HVAC and set it up to be a useful space.
Those yew are GONE, by the way.

  • Bigger art over the TV.
  • Other Best book case to match the one we have, flanking the fireplace.
  • Get a better, flatter fireplace screen. 
  • Finish painting trim white.
  • Dismantle desk in the Estroden
  • Replace Estroden desk w/ the $50 IKEA add on desk for my Expedit
  • Move the futon from the attic into the Estroden to make it a guest room.
  • Paint exterior door in kitchen
  • Backsplash someday!
  • Strip paint from interior doors
  • Paint and swap furniture around in master bedroom
    • I want to move the bed 90 degrees.  It's in front a window no matter where we put it, but I think on the other window will be more centered on the bed and look better.
  • Paint the hallway.  Man, that's an awful fleshy beige color. 
  • Move the liquor cabinet into the man room and get a real buffet.
  • Paint and decorate Thomas's room.  All small scale stuff, but it's just a bunch of wacky colors right now.  
Basically every room needs something.  I wonder where I should start.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Other Babbling: Rugs

Hey in other vaguely incoherent babbling, what do you guys think of putting an area rug over your wall to wall carpet?  I have boring, beige, awful wall to wall we want to get rid of eventually, but we are keeping it in place until we are done with all the deconstructing and reconstructing, in hopes that we can salvage the hardwood underneath by refinishing.

I am only asking because I am madly in love with the mood board the Rambling Renovators people made.

rambling renovators blog
I LOVE this carpet!  It's so pretty!  It would bring so much character to my fairly boring dining room!  But over wall to wall?  I don't know.


You guys, sometimes I like to search the internet for curtains I will almost definitely never buy because I am basically a complete masochist.  I am like completely incapable of spending $100 on curtains.  I can basically never bring myself to do it.

I tried to make an exception and went to Home Depot last year to buy roman shades for my living room, but we ended up getting some roman shades on clearance for $10 each.  Thirty bucks total for my whole living room!

seriously, i got them for $30 total.  go go gadget clearance!
I typed all this babbly stuff about iphones and cameras but them my husband told me how to get my picture somewhere useful.  Publishing to mobile me!  Which is apparently going away, so I do still need a picasa solution.
(I tried to take some phone pics and upload them to picasa to use on my blog, but none of my google friends are around to tell me what magic iphone app works for that.  If you know, clue me in!  Also if you have one of those online "how to take good pics for your blog" courses to recommend, let me know.  I think I need a refresher course.  I even have a nice enough camera.  *sigh*)
A Detailed View

In any case, they are red, which I love for winter, but for summer/fall I'd like to do something in a green blue palette.  Also since then we got some free furniture that is more steel blue/beige/green, so red is not really on the menu.  I can't find anything for $30, though, so I'm totally spoiled and haven't been able to take down my roman shades.

Target and JC Penney are favorite places to fantasy shop in the realm of "might actually buy", but Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware are where I look when I want to pretend like I have a zillion dollars to spend.  I should actually check out if Garnet Hill has window stuff, because MAN Garnet Hill is full of pretty.

These from JC Penney are really pretty nice.  And on Clearance!  Even on clearance, they are $59 a piece.  That's like $175!  Man, I am so spoiled from my $10 roman shades.

I normally prefer JCP to Target for curtain shopping online + added self loathing.  JCP seems to have easier categories to work with, but Target recently changed their website, so it's better.


These are pretty cute, and in my size they're only $44.  That's not too bad!  Still over a hundred bucks, but I am starting to believe my magic $30 roman shades were a freak of shopping.  (I mean, guys, they had a damask roman shade with a sheer roman shade all together!  lovely!  i should have bought them in every color.)

Restoration Hardware
Restoration Hardware has some fabulous sheers, especially.  But at $99 a sheer, maybe out of my $30 range.  Still lovely, and I like the idea of sheers in the living room, as long as they are pretty.  I wonder if there's a DIY way of dressing up some plain white sheers.  Maybe ribbon trim along the sides?  Hrm.

Also, it turns out that Garnet Hill does have a small selection of curtains.  Which are fabulous, of course, because it's Garnet Hill.
Garnet Hill
Lovely, and I love the colors, too.  But!  $158 a piece, so no thanks.

Someday when we are no longer under construction and have disposable income for expensive curtains...... I still won't pay $158 a piece on account of how I am super cheap.  Oh well, I will have to head back to JCP to find something more reasonable.

Why are curtains so much money, anyway?  Am I missing some magical cheap place to shop for curtains?


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Short, Shameful Confessions

You guys, I have to tell you something: I am much MUCH crazier in real life than I appear on my blog.

I have been trying my best to appear like a nice suburban mom who's remodeling her adorable house, but in reality I am a slightly crazy suburban mom whose job is awesome but makes her a little nuts and who's husband probably could use a wife who is slightly less ... impulsive?

Recently, he told me that when I started being crazy, he was just going to not engage me in my craziness in any way.  I forget why, but it was certainly something crazy I was doing.

So today, when I asked him if we could have a baby goat, he said "no" and nothing else.  And when I told him that I was suffering from a series of potentially fatal mini-comas, he told me to let him know if they ended up being fatal.  You guys, HOW can I do that?  I will be dead, if they are fatal!  (Also, The Bloggess is hilarious.)  In his defense, he did hand me a bottle of wine when I got home from work today, and he married me even after I bought a house while he was out of town.

How could you NOT want a baby goat?  

I feel like I post less on my blog than I would if I were being more honest about who I am.  And who I am is a little bit nuts, you guys.   So fair warning, I am going to try to post more often, but that may involve less home remodeling content and more craziness and recipes.

Really, though, who doesn't need more craziness and recipes in their life?  Offensively normal people, that's who!

I should point out that the last time he tried to engage me on my craziness is when I asked him "hey do you think you could use a baseball bat to hit a grenade launched from a grenade launcher back to the guy who launched it at you?".  I think we were watching NCIS or something.  We argued about it on the couch until I put it on my facebook, where like two dozen people chimed in with various opinions.  Finally one of our friends who was in the army for 10 years popped in to explain that it wouldn't work because the grenade goes off really quickly.  LOGIC why do people bring that logic stuff to my party?  So, if nothing else, today you learned not to carry a baseball bat for protection from launched grenades.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Raspberry Pie

I made this one.

I am using the pic from the Taste of Home site because mine did not look so perfect and pretty.  In fact, it looked a little like it was bleeding.  That's OK because DAMN it was good.  

It took all day since you basically make a crust, then raspberry goo, then whipped cream, then the cream cheese thing you fold the whipped cream into, then chocolate topping, and have to cool the pie in the fridge for an hour in between each step.

It was worth it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blog Changes!

You guys!  I changed up the design of my blog!  I decided that I loved the lobster font I used for the yum, and I was also kinda tired of the birds.

So! I changed all my colors and background and fonts and stuff.  I looked at the plethora of etsy blog packages you can buy, and man there are a LOT of them.  They are pretty super cute, but I was really not feeling like paying $20 - $50 for one, so I did my best with the designer on blogspot.  It's pretty fun.  Not design-major-i've-got-photoshop perfect, but I'm happy enough with it.

In other news, today we went berry picking.  YUM!  Raspberries.  We got 4 cartons full, and the friends we went with got 2.  Oh berries berries berries.  So tasty.  

Thomas was basically eating them by the fistful with his chubby preschooler hands.  His entire face was smeared in raspberry.  I did not get a picture, though, probably because I was too busy stuffing my face as well.  

I am going to attempt to make raspberry pie with them.  Anyone have any favorite pies with fresh raspberries and no boxes of jell-o?  I found this one which looks pretty basic, and I will probably try it.  
However, at the May Market we have here in Pittsburgh I bought a chocolate raspberry pie.  It was the best thing I have ever put in my mouth.  So, if you have a chocolate raspberry pie recipe, please PLEASE let me know!  I will keep googling for now.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Removing Paint from Tile

Man, I would love to do this to the presumably white, original to the house, from 1924 subway tile in my bathroom.

Hot vinegar and a cloth.  Who knew?  I wonder if it is worth trying.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

cutting boards

So, cutting boards.
I hear the plastic ones, even though they can go in the dishwasher, can't get as clean as the wooden ones for some reason I don't entirely get involving wood being kinda self healing and plastic having little knicks that absorb bacteria.  Also, little bits of plastic in your food.  No thanks!

At one point, at a county fair a way way long time ago, we bought a big huge board.  24X18 or thereabouts!  From a cabinet maker.  It was nice, but it had these ~ 1inch ball feet that made it too high for me to cut on without standing on my tippy toes.  No thanks.

So I took off the feet, but still, tippy toes.  I decided just to suck it up, and eventually (due to the lack of feet, i'm sure) it warped.  But even before that, I totally ruined the top of it by letting one of my cast iron pans dry on there.
friends don't let friends jack up their huge boards
So, I could sand it, but it's still warped.  I could try soaking it for a few days and then rigging something up to straighten it, but that seems like kind of a pain in the neck.  Plus it's still a little too tall (I think it's like 2" thick) plus I think I would like it to be bigger.

BIGGER?  yes, bigger.  The new kitchen is huge.  Therefore, having an enormous big cutting board that never leaves your counter is awesome.  So cool.  But even the 24X18 ones can cost over $100.  DO NOT WANT.

Then, I had an idea.  I love butcherblock.  It looks so warm and pretty!  If I were going to remodel the kitchen that we had, instead of building on, I would totally have done it on the cheap by painting the cabinets and putting in a butcherblock countertop.

Butcherblock is basically cuttingboard, right?  And IKEA will sell you some butcherblock countertop that's huge for like $40.
lagan, by ikea

So clearly I should buy the shortest piece of lagen beech countertop which is 25X50, cut it in half, sand the edges, and then share it with a friend.  We will both have HUGE HUGE countertops for $20!  Plus feet.  I'll have to find something to be feet.  Maybe just something rubber.  

This is GENIUS!  Or at least adequate.  Now I just need a friend.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bathroom Love

I love this bathroom:
from chezerby blog
I love love love the wood accents everywhere and the clean tile, especially.  I am more of a traditional gal, than a modern one, but wow!

Apparently they used teak plywood.  The only thing I really know about teak is that they use it for boat parts because it works well with things that are wet.  I wonder if teak plywood has the same properties?  And where do you even BUY teak plywood?  (The internet tells me you buy it here.  Thanks internet!)

Love love.  I am also kind of curious if teak is the kind of thing that you can oil and have it look nice instead of poly.  I love the whole idea of oiling something, but I probably don't want the hassle in reality.  Still, oiling your teak furniture has some romance attached to it.