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November 20, 2007

In which I try to make up for lack of postings with a really loooong post

I would say I've been working like a dog, but in my house, working like a dog looks like this:

Argus sleeping

So I'll just say I've been working like the cat/dog handmaiden that I am and have made some serious progress. I'm ready to start inviting people into the home. Which is good since I've completely neglected everyone. I'm going to have to take out a small loan for all the dinners I owe everyone.

One project resulted in two storage solutions, answered the challenge of a style conflict and it cost me less than $5. Now that is bang for the buck.

Let me introduce the dresser:

dresser before

I never liked this dresser. It wasn't big enough for clothing storage but was really too big to be in the living room and not look like a piece of bedroom furniture, the drawers didn't pull in and out easily and the top drawer tilted upward unattractively. And there was just something about how it looked that I didn't like.

A couple of weekends ago, I was faced with a pile of books in the garage that needed to go inside but I was maxed out on shelf room. With all the vet bills we have had lately (about $2500 in the last two months, ouch!) and with, well, buying a HOUSE and all, my disposable cash is tight to say the least. (please don't make me eat any more toasted cheese and tomato soup dinners!)

I found myself staring at the dresser. It was taking up space but not providing any real function. This is not meeting my criteria for things that live in my house. The scale is right for the living room and I liked the color, I liked the top and the sides but it was the drawer fronts I really wasn't loving.

This had once been probably a very attractive piece but at some point (probably the 70s) someone glued those panels on the front of the drawers and replaced the drawer hardware with these really cheap and flimsy handles that were insufficient for pulling the heavy drawers in and out. It was also a quality piece of furniture. Here is a very blurry picture of the drawer joins:

drawer join

This is good stuff. No staples. So I pulled out the drawers to assess what I had inside.

inside the dresser

First I can see the reason for the tilting drawers and trouble pulling them in and out. All of the guides on the right side are broken. Only one was lying at the bottom of the dresser so I couldn't even fix it easily. Instead, I opted to bust out one of the front bars, replace the one guide and make a shelf that sits across the front bar and guides and voila!

dresser after

Storage solution #1 solved. Books have been moved from the garage into the house. Plus, these tall books were always a hassle on standard bookshelves but fit in here nicely. Even taller books (like the atlas) can rest on its side in the bottom space. Cost of this was less than three dollars for the shelf wood. (which I promise will be stained to match soon)

The drawers? I couldn't bring myself to toss them because, aside from the hideous front panel, I thought they were really lovely. Especially those sides with that scalloped join.

Remember the dreaded office? That pit of despair and horror? (and no, I'm not one of those crazy people who live with stacks of junk in their homes, I just moved and emptied a storage space) Prepare to clutch your pearls and gasp, but this is what it looked like before:

office before

This is what it looks like after (same angle of the same area in the room):

office after

And what is that on the walls serving very nicely as attractive shelving? The drawers. Hideous panel side down and beautiful scallop join out. Storage solution #2. All my note cards have a home and show off their pretty boxes as well as all my knitting notions/needles and small knitting/tea books. Cost was a little over a dollar for mollies and screws to fasten the drawers shelves to the wall.

drawer detail

I solved another storage solution (other than pillaging stray pieces of furniture). All my project bags were piled up in the closet and on the top shelf. Now, they have been strung up on the clothing bar. They take up a lot less room and are much easier to access. This will make it much easier for a purge. Some of these projects have languished in bags for three years. I think it is safe to say I have fallen out of love with them.


I also need someone to please help me get rid of all the books and research material I accumulated while working on my master's thesis. I haven't looked at them in a year but they were the end all/be all of my existence at one point in my life so it is really hard to just chuck them.

The cat has taken over the office so I know it has met a high standard of approval. Yes, I know that three months ago this cat was living in the street. But trust me, all cats have high standards from birth.

The really exciting part for me is that I am one flat surface (my bedroom dresser top) away from having all three bedrooms clean and functional! Great googly-moogly someone mark this day.

November 06, 2007

Home Improvement

In an unusual burst of energy today, I got up early and stained and sealed my deck before work.

Yep, BEFORE work. Insane. I know.

But this turned out to be a trickier project than I thought. There needs to be no rain for a few days before and after the stain goes down. Also, most stains want the temperature to stay above a certain temperature. Something that is impossible at this time of year. And there is a lot of prep that needs to happen to the deck before the stain even goes down. It's like painting. A whole lot of work for very little actual painting.

I have to mention that I was injured during the prep of the deck. I was trying to get the hose over the edge of the deck so I flipped the hose which came back on me and hit my nose rather hard. Bump and soreness. Also, I broke a blood vessel or something in one of my fingers which has left it quite swollen. War wounds. I've been showing them to anyone that will listen.

So after a couple weekends of scrubbing the deck of all green growth and a surprising amount of dirt (who knew it was so dirty until I actually took a scrub brush to it?) I was ready for the final bit. Rain is looming on the horizon so it was now or never.

And I'm so pleased with how it turned out! It warmed up the whole look and the former beating the deck took left the wood with a kind of neat aged look.

Now I just need to finish the caulking around the doors and windows and I'm ready for winter! I'm diggin' this master of my own domain thing.

November 02, 2007

In which I make no mention of knitting

We have had such pretty weather that I can't hold still. I love putsing around the yard and the dogs love to help me. I have found I'm surprisingly fond of raking. I think my yard is just the exact right size that raking isn't a horrible chore and it is one of those tasks that shows big results quickly.

But I suffer from fits of artistic passion. I have a beautiful, big purple plum that is shedding its leaves right now and I can't help but admire the dark red/purple leaves against the soft, green grass. Argus is modeling it for you here:

Argus is actually having a tough time lately. The arthritis is crippling him and I have suspected some strokes lately which was confirmed last week when he had one in front of me. Really difficult for both he and I to get through but within a few hours it had passed almost entirely and when we got to the vet they said there were no residual effects. The only thing that made me feel better was the fact that my being there during the stroke seemed to bring him a lot of comfort. It calmed him when I snuggled with him. I think we are beginning a difficult phase in our life together.

On to less sad topics...

Sapphire is finally earning her keep around here. There is a giant stump in the yard from a tree that either fell, or was blown over. There is enough of the root system still in the ground that I haven't been able to cart it off. (it probably doesn't help that I have my heart on saving the stump as a garden seat)

Sapphire has taken it upon herself to dig up the stump. And by golly she is doing a crackin' good job!

I included one of Sapphire's toys in there for scale. The toy is a tennis ball with a rope tail so you get an idea of how big it is. The picture completely flattens out the ground detail so you can't tell there is a hole almost 7" down at the front of the stump.

This is the other side of the stump which is, again, flattened out. I tried to point out some of the major holes. Both are probably over 10" deep.

She will be happily digging away and turn which begins filling in the hole. I'll just call out, "Sapphire, don't fill in the hole!" She will stop...look at me...then turn and empty the hole again.

If I could just get her to empty the dishwasher...