And Now We Face Christmas

It has been so utterly boring these past weeks that I felt like I had nothing to share. Boring is good. Sometimes. Work is good. I like what I’m working on and who I’m working with. Family is good. Everyone is healthy and behaving. I’m good and behaving. Sometimes.

The knee has healed nicely. I had a brief setback when I tweaked something getting animals out to the car for a routine vet visit but even with how much that hurt, it was over in a few days. I think I’m just down to building strength back into my legs and core. I don’t think I’ll get to kickbox anymore which is really disappointing. But I’ve always loved regular strength training and swimming so I just need to get back into the habit.

I have a new foster. Her name is Mary. She is very sweet.

My favorite part of fostering is watching them figure out how their life is different and seeing them blossom. At first they are very cautious and tend to find a spot in the room and just watch. Eventually they start getting excited about food time, going out, and then they figure out toys. Mary has found the toy box and now really interacts with the toys by carting them around and play bowing to them.

She has certainly demonstrated that she feels secure here now.

I hosted Thanksgiving this year. You would be very proud of me though, instead of getting some unrealistic project going of something that isn’t really a priority, I actually did something that has been lingering on the ToDo list. My office has had a huge, ugly pile of junk that I’ve avoided. These are the last dregs of the old office that needed to be sorted and considered. The challenge was that every single thing had to be looked at and a decision made. So I spent almost two days going through each and every item. I got rid of about 4 bags of garbage and 10+ bags of shredded paper.

OfficeComparison

The picture on the left is the before picture but it is actually a little deceiving. The pile had grown significantly to be as high as the shelf top and the top of the monitor. In fact, some of the papers were resting on top of the corner of the monitor. It was about a 3x3x3 area of bills, papers, and general crap that needed to be dealt with. The two boxes beneath the desk were from when my bookcase originally collapsed but they were like those boxes you just dump things into when you move. You know, those last few boxes when you are just desperate to be done packing. Those boxes have been emptied and disposed of. Clearly, I need to tidy the bookcase but I’m so relieved to have that pile gone I could sing and dance.

Seriously, I was losing bills in that pile and you know how fun that is to deal with.

Now this isn’t a sexy project, or even a project that is dramatic to anyone else. In fact, I’m afraid the response I got was, “Well at least you finally cleaned in here.” *sigh*

But I do feel really good getting it done once and for all and I feel like it was a big barrier in calling the office done. Now I just need to paint the closet doors and seriously, it will be finished.

Mary found a throw rug and pulled it up on the dog bed to burrow under it. All that crap on the floor behind her? I dealt with that too!

So, What’s Going on with the Home Office?

Has it been abandoned? Has everything been crammed back in that single room in order to reclaim the living room? The short answer is no. I chip away at it when I get a chance which means it is very slow-going and I’m starting to get embarrassed that the living room has been unusable for about a year. Wow. I’m not going to win any awards for DIY of the year.

On a positive note, everything “big” that belongs in the room has been moved back in so the configuration of the room is set and I think it works pretty well. My grandparents and I used to have a tradition where they would come spend the night at my house for Halloween so they would get to see the trick or treaters. We haven’t been able to do that the last couple of years with all the changes they have gone through so I was excited that I thought we’d get to be able to resume our tradition this year. This forced me to get the office kitted out as a guest room which is what that room is supposed to be able to do when needed. Actually, it was probably a good time to try it out as a guest room to ensure things were right for that function before it gets “completed.”

I took all the pictures this morning on the run before work (as I tend to do) which aligns with my refusal to stage anything. I also appear to refuse to even straighten stuff. I’d like to think that comes from a noble honesty but I don’t think I’m fooling anyone.

The walls are still a little bare. There are a couple of shelves that will go up and then I can start hanging artwork. Also, Clorox, I’m available for product placement revenue. Your wipes can be featured in charming vignettes like this in every room of my house! Often next to a dog mess. Also, the bed is already rumpled because a certain greyhound who lives here believes this is his bed.

Setting up the guest room configuration required a bit of re-jiggering of the room but I’m really pleased with the final setup. I think it’s warm, inviting, and still really functional for the office role. I replaced the bookcases that collapsed with some simple Ikea Billy bookcases.

Around my house, we all get in on the fun of building Ikea furniture.

I painted the back of the bookcase a pretty, dark teal. I really wanted to stencil some design on it but it became impractical for time’s sake. I also decided to put them in the closet. Since it isn’t an occupied room, the closet becomes a major storage area for me so I figured why not make it more functional for storage? When I sell the house I can easily install a closet kit but in the meantime, I’m the one living here so I need it to work for me. I will re-hang the closet doors when they get painted (have I mentioned that dark stain that all my trim and doors sport is a ginormous pain to paint?). I don’t think they look bad which will be nice when closet doors are left open.

Grandpa believes every room needs a chair so that you can put on your shoes. He is apparently against sitting on the bed to put on your shoes and doesn’t like my office chair for the job because it is on wheels so I have to keep a little chair in here for him.

The futon is big and I would, in the future, like to replace it with a pull-out couch but I bought a new mattress a few months ago so this will stay for a while. It’s comfortable and that’s what counts.

Much of the little stuff has come back in the room. This is what we have so far.

A couple of these things might also get moved to the shelves that I will hang so these two bookcases should be sufficient for my crap. Which is how it should be!

The living room looks better but it is still full of crap. One of the things that is slowing this project is that everything gets reviewed and considered before it goes back in the room. I accumulated a ton of stuff because I was going to “deal with it later” but later just never happens. So everything gets touched, considered, and over half of it never goes back in the room. It is either tossed or donated. A lot what you see here is yarn. I have more yarn than one person should ever have. I’m not putting it back in the office until the very end.  I want to have it all in one place so that I can sort through it. Like the rest of the crap, most of it will never go back in the room. I’ll either sell some it or donate it. Not only is there more than I can ever knit but I’ve changed my taste and knitting skill since I bought much of it. Also, access to patterns has vastly improved since I started collecting all of this. When I want a pattern, I almost never go through my books and magazines anymore, I look online. So most of the books and all of the magazines are going.

I circled the last bit to sort through. The rest is yarn/craft stuff that will be culled in the final big review. The stuff crossed out is garbage. Note that I’m finally giving up my Coca Cola penny holder that I’ve had since the 70s. Go me!

Painfully slow going but it feels so good to get rid of so much stuff and be able to put my hands on what I need in the office. Before, anything I needed was impossible to find which means the room didn’t function. No one’s space is big enough to live like that.

It’s the Little Things

I could also title this “The Joy of Caulking.” That doesn’t mean I love to caulk, but I love the results. Caulking is not at all sexy and not something you would ever known was done in one of those fancy, staged rooms. However, I think it is a critical piece in “finishing” a room. It is the kind of thing you don’t notice if it is done, but you do notice if it isn’t done.

I think one of the most dramatic results was my door frame. This really confronted everyone who went out the door. I caulk around the baseboard and the door trim but this was really in-your-face. The left side is what it looked like before and the right side is after a quick bead of caulk. It took about 10 minutes and a tube of caulk costs about $3 to $5. A tube will cover several average-sized rooms so this is highly affordable giving us a lot of bang for our buck.

CaulkedDoorframe

My windows are going to be tricky though. The gap around the window trim is way bigger than a bead of caulk can fill. I’m researching how this can be filled but I’m thinking there is likely some kind insulating fill that I can stuff in the crack and then caulk over that. I can’t believe that this isn’t making my heating/cooling less efficient.

And, as usual, I was well supervised. Here for your “awww” of the day, Scarlet Kitty playing with a Q-Tip. She’s blurry because she never holds still.

I See Baseboards

Because nothing is funnier than an out-of-date cultural reference.

I got my baseboard on this weekend and finished a job in the home office project that seemed really hard. Of course, in the end, it was nothing. I managed to sweat up a storm which was either because it was hot and muggy or it was a hotflash. I’ll bet you don’t hear too many contractors complain about those. Either way, the sweat was not warranted because this was easy and done quickly.

2014-08-10_10-34-21

Now I just need to get my caulk on which sounds way more fun than it is.

2014-08-10_10-40-59

Weird Outlets

I started getting the measurements for the baseboard and figured, while I’m on the floor, I’ll swap out the outlets. This ended up not being as straight forward as it has been for me in other rooms so I thought I would share what I do when something doesn’t look like the youtube video.

All of the outlets in this room are cream and I want white. This is just an easy little update that I think, combined with other easy, little updates, adds up and leaves the impression of a home well cared for. I think this helps when selling the house. I’d rather do this a bit at a time than try to do it all at once when I decide to sell the house. Besides, I want to enjoy the pretty updates too and not just make them for a stranger.

I did my usual power off routine where I turn off the power at the circuit breaker but I still check every outlet with my voltage tester. I do this every time because I have a room with one outlet on a different breaker so I’m super careful about this.

As soon as I got the old outlet off, I saw that I didn’t recognize the configuration at all. I have the new outlet in my left hand and the old one to the right of it. The new ones have screws on the sides of the outlet but this old one had the wires going in the back of the outlet.

I stopped what I was doing and started watching youtube videos. Fortunately, I found one that sort of applied to my situation.

This was very helpful except my outlet didn’t quite match his. I had little slots in a different place but putting my screwdriver in there didn’t release the wires at all. I finally just got frustrated and cut the wires.

Once I had the old outlet out of there, I could easily, and quickly, replace it with the new one. The very next outlet though gave me pause again. This one, only had one set of wires for some reason. The other had two white and two black. This only had one of each.

OK. This must be one of those annoying outlets where one of them doesn’t work. But why would someone do that? I decided I’d figure out how to fix it later but would at least get this replaced now so I swapped it out with the new one.

The last outlet really confused me. This one had an extra wire. Now there were three white and three black. Why?

Another problem was that the outlet was giving me some hot readings. Enough, and consistently that I just wasn’t comfortable mucking about with it. I took a little video so you could see the reading I kept getting.

Because of this, I decided it just wasn’t worth it. I didn’t know what the extra wire was for or if I could just tuck it away. So I put the old outlet back and left it alone. This might be a good job for an electrician. I think when I have one here for this outlet, I’ll get the outlet with fewer wires fixed so both outlets work. It shouldn’t be an expensive job and it’s just worth it to have an expert do it right.

As usual, I was well supervised.

Building Up the Nerve

I’m getting up the nerve to do my baseboard installation myself. I don’t know why I’m so sure I can’t do this. It’s one of those projects that doesn’t look hard but people are always saying, “Oh, that is too difficult, you should pay someone to do it.”

Everything I look at makes it look simple. So maybe what others think is hard, is the part I’m comfortable with. I can’t help but think a lot of “helpful” folks are getting baseboard mixed up with crown molding (which does look a bit trickier because it has an angle back as well as an angle in the corners).

So I just keep watching these and look for the tricky part. I’m building up the nerve to try this tomorrow. It isn’t like I’d have to do the room over if I got it wrong.

 

Office Flooring

Is in! It looks so nice and clean and so pretty with the blue.

Getting the flooring done is always a big milestone in a project like this. Not only does it change the look of EVERYTHING but so much has been on hold until that flooring went in. I can start putting things back which means a major reduction in crap that I took out. My goal is to get rid of at least half of the stuff and if it ends up being 3/4, even better!

Just some of the crap that came out of the office. There is actually more in the garage that came out of the family room last year that was overflow from the office and I refuse to put the overflow back in the family room.

I use my office a lot so it really needs to be a productive space for me. This little redo is probably going to have as much impact for me as redoing my kitchen.

In the meantime, I will keep going back in and admiring it over and over.

Continuing the same flooring through all the rooms is making the house look huge!

A Good Saturday

The nicest kind of Saturday, made up of lovely little things:

My roses are starting to bloom like crazy and smell heavenly! Of course, beautiful roses on the table features the unfortunate dust that is inevitable. I’m on the lookout for some cute everyday table clothes. They are much more practical than dusting daily.

Kitty (with her little tongue out) that wants to be a part of everything but is distracted for a while by a straw. Don’t worry, she killed it.

A nosy robin who stood at the door and stared in for several minutes. This is him finally walking off when I moved to take a picture. Oscar, who barks at everything in the backyard, slept through it all.

I keep going into the office to admire it. The floor will be going in Wednesday. Frankie wants to know when he’ll have his room back.

This weekend will be little chores for the office. Replacing outlets with white ones, updating the light switch, door hardware, and window blinds. Small successful projects. The kind I like.

Office Painting Done

Well, the walls at least. I loved how the Knitting Needle gray looked but it seemed a little dark for that small room. I picked out a light, light blue instead. Sherwin Williams Icicle. It is very light but you can still see the blue (especially with the white trim as contrast) and it is a very cool color but it is so bright and really looks nice.

You can see the contrast between the shades when the color first goes on the wall.

A couple of family members popped in today and just powered through finishing it up. It was very sweet actually. I think my slow progress was driving them nuts.

I did purchase the flooring for the room and got some names of good installers. I’ll see if I can set that up quickly. I just need to get through the long slog of painting the closet doors. These brown doors take 3 to 4 coats so it just takes a long time to get first one side done, and then the other. I keep moving forward. One little step at a time but that is how you get big projects like this done when you have other things going on.

OfficeColorComparison

It’s hard to tell a difference in these two shots but you can see the shot on the right is more blue.

Getting Over the Hump

It’s just been one of those times where you kind of get kicked in the shins a lot and you keep going, but I feel like all my creative juices have just been sucked out of me.

I’m finishing up a big project and I’m so happy it’s over. It hasn’t been a great project and someone has been working against me which is discouraging.

I’m facing some time where I have to work from home so the home office project has to step up. OK, that’s fine, but I admit I like dragging things out a little. I enjoy the planning and the doing of the project and I’m always a little disappointed when it is done.

So next steps are:

  • to paint the room a lighter gray
  • install flooring
  • closet doors
  • bookcases and shelves
  • desk

That will give me what I need to make the space productive. Due to the time constraint, I think I’ll go ahead and hire out the floor. Just to get it done quickly.

Here’s to getting back to things as simple and rewarding as getting some paint on the wall!