8.04.2016

Ka-ching

I blew some dough on some more Nest products. 
That is not actually entirely true. I bought these with points. So there was money spent at one time, but not in this instance. 

I have been slowly trading out my smoke detectors for a couple years now. We have like fifty-effing million of them in the house. Actually, I have 10 of them, plus one in the garage. That's a lot to replace at 100 big ones a pop. I have replaced 8 and have only 3 to go. I am upgrading for a few reasons. Mainly, it is because my old type would go off for no rhyme or reason -often in the middle of the night. They'd make just three chirps but believe me, that's enough to jolt a bear out of hibernation. I believe they go off because of a power surge. They also were hyper-sensitive, so that the one on my main floor would go off from cooking and the one in the hall by the boys bath would go off from steam. Mind you, they are all connected in line so if one went off, the whole friggin house (10 alarms) went off. What a royal pain in the ass -especially for a boy with autism.

I bought the first Nest to see if these too would go off randomly from the power surges. Well....they do (sometimes, but less frequently -maybe once every month or so) but the Nest alarms speak first, in a nice calm lady voice, before they chirp. So usually they will correct themselves before the louder part of alarm goes off. I can also tell from the Nest App which alarm was triggered, which I guess may be an important piece of information when I finally have the surge thing cured.

And, I like the fact that the Nests are also carbon monoxide detectors and are a million times better looking than those other lame-ass things (I mean really? who the heck came up with that design with the impossible battery compartment and the ugly-ass shape?)



Just 3 more to go. I should just rip the band-aid off and get them. You might have noticed that also included in this blow-out purchase was a thermostat. I got that for the main floor, purely for aesthetic reasons (shame...insert 3 bell emojis because that's pretty shallow). I haven't installed that yet and perhaps will post about that later. 

Cheers to hopeful silent nights.

7.31.2016

Sunday Walk

Kit, Oliver and I took one of our favorite city walks today. This entails first riding the train downtown (a favorite activity for Kit) to the ferry building and then walking all the way home. The route we take is about 8 miles. It was a glorious San Francisco day with the fog moving in and out the entire route home and I took a few shots of buildings and scenes that interested me. 








Cheers.

7.26.2016

Hot Tub!

I have big plans for my garden, which naturally means that I should spend some time tearing it up.
Destroying the yard is actually the confluence of two things. First, it has been extremely dry here in San Francisco, and many of my plantings are beyond stressed and have died. Generally, I enjoy the zen of weeding and pruning, but because of the draught, things have gotten so straggly, I have pretty much neglected the yard entirely. It was time for a major clean up. For kicks, I went back and looked though some of my old posts about the garden, this post from January of 2013 shows it when it was far more lush, even with less mature plantings. (Remember this yard started as a bare dirt lot back in 2008).

Second, we are finally going to pull the trigger on a cedar soaking tank for Kit, and are trying to go as big as possible in our little back yard, which means we need to clear out some plants to make room for this monstrosity.
  
We're going to put the soaker on the East side, up against the retaining wall, where it gets the most sun and will be least obtrusive. We are trying to go really big, and for this reason thought it best to mock it up with story poles to get a real sense of height and diameter. If you have no idea what what a soaker tub is, click here to see my inspiration.

We're shooting for 10' in diameter and 4.5" deep. We are going with this depth because -for a multitude of reasons (which I will go into later as this thing is built)- we want to be able to place it on a pad at ground level and not sink it into the ground. 

By the time I took this photo, my mock up was looking like a circus tent. The high points of the string, are the true height of the top of the tub -it's really big so very tricky to get this looking right aesthetically. We can probably all agree that there are a lot of ugly-ass cedar hot tubs out there with cheesy decks around them. I've been contemplating the space and drawing things out for a few weeks now, with the aim of being as minimal but well functioning as possible. As the saying goes, "form ever follows function", right?! 

Also part of this garden overhaul is replacing the pebbled area with troweled concrete. Going to be blessedly smooth and superb.

Ok. I hope this cursory explanation of what I hope to accomplish isn't frustrating. Can't wait to get this job started. A lot of detail to work out first. 

7.12.2016

New Door Sock

I have been busy these past weekends painting the entryway and the stairs up to the main floor.
You may recall that this stairway has a section to the ceiling that is very high and difficult to get to. In the end, I managed this by edging the ceiling with a long ladder propped on the stairs with some large wooden blocks (from this dumpster dive actually) and stabilized by Oliver. For the rest of the upper wall, we used a telescoping extension pole that worked wonders. (This is a before photo, btw, if you're wondering why this wall looks like shit). 

This post, however, isn't about painting (thank god you say) but rather about putting back together the entryway. There are some odds and ends that need seeing to here -the black doors need some refreshing, as does the door to the mail cabinet. Also on my to do list was making a new door snake.

This is my second go-round on a door snake for this location. The first one proved to be too light to provide maximum insulation here.

In addition to using heavier fill, I made this one a bit longer to extend a bit past the door on each end.

I originally bought this fabric for my living room One Room Challenge endeavor.

I have since moved this pillow upstairs. Just check out that awkward sleeping position on Otis' part....impressive.

Anyway, back to the sewing. Cut one length which is folded onto itself (right side facing each other) and sew an invisible seam along two lengths. Just as an aside, all sewing projects are made easier when sewing a fabric with lines or a grid pattern. If you are a beginner, opt for stripes and plaids if you like them and your project layout will be 100 percent easier and faster.

For a heavier fill this time around, I went with rice. I used about half of this 20lb bag for a door snake approximately 40ish inches by 4 inches.

To fill, I cut a small hole in the corner and funneled it in. There was a slight mess after, but nothing terrible.

To finish, I turned over the edge and machine sewed it shut about 1/8" from the end.

If you have a keen eye, you will notice that I also did some rug shuffling down here. Most recently, I had a striped hemp rug down there, which was nice but very thick -so much so that I had been forced to remove the weather stripping from the bottom of the door that leads to the garage for clearance. That bothered me, not only for the draftiness from the garage but also for basic safety concerns (carbon monoxide from garage boiler). Currently I'm using this blue and pink beauty that came from Oliver's family.

Not finished, but looking a lot crisper indeed. Once, I finish finish, I will photo and post.

6.28.2016

Lesson Learned

Remember how I said I had a story to tell regarding the water damage I recently repaired on the first floor? 
Though it seems obvious now, initially, when this leak happened, I wasn't sure where the water was coming from only because it coincided with some heavy rain (that we've been without for a year) and I have a known water problem on the roof decks where the safety glass attaches to the parapet (that I'm in the midst of getting sorted out now).
  
Anyway, it took a while to figure out that it was coming from the laundry room on the second floor because everything looked hunky-dory in there, (but in reality water was running down the inside of the wall). 

There was no water on the floor and the hook-ups -which are under the folding table, looked fine. Honestly, I was most concerned that the outflow spout had been knocked out of the drain and that clearly wasn't the case. 

Upon closer inspection, I finally realized that the screw mechanism on the hot water supply line was cracked. The leaking was intermittent, I guess, because sometimes I must have been doing cold water laundry with no demand on this valve. I can only assume this is why I didn't draw a correlation of the leak to the laundry and instead did to the rain. Ok, so how is this crack even possible? 

From shenanigans like this. I can't even tell you how many times I've pulled my appliances out from their spots. I've moved them to adjust the lint hose, vacuum up lint, paint, repair the dryer, and repair the washer. At some point, I obviously put a lot of strain on that hose and it cracked. Bummer, however.....


This most likely never would have happened with a steel hose line even with me yanking. It cracked because it is plastic, yes, that's right, plastic!! What kind of idgit installs a supply line with plastic attachments on a second floor water source, when a steel one would be a much more prudent solution??? Grrrrrr. 

This is the type I have connected to my washer at the moment. They also make a burst free option, which is braided steel covered in rubber, which was not available at my neighborhood hardware when I purchased this. It is recommended that the washer line be replaced every 3 to 5 years -I did not know that! I still intend to swap out what I have now in the near future even though I feel this new one is sufficient for the time being (better safe than sorry).

So the moral of the story is that they make crappy plumbing supplies out of plastic, which don't hold up. Don't skimp on parts, because there is nothing like the heartache of an interior leak. 

6.21.2016

Dryer Balls

I recently discovered the joy of wool dryer balls.
This could be a duh moment for others, but wool dryer balls are totally great and worth buying. I stupidly put off buying these because I had the crazy idea that I could make these myself, but at around 20 bucks for 6, that would have been just a dumb waste of time. I got mine from Amazon.

These lovely things really speed up the drying time and leave clothes soft. They are an excellent alternative to liquid clothing softeners, which cause mold in a front load washer, especially the big brand types because they have animal fat in them. Yes, grody, right?... the residual animal fat is growing that nasty gray mold shit in all the rubber gaskets. Dryer sheets are also a supposed no-no because they clog the lint filter and occasionally get sucked out of the drum and into the mechanism. The only drawback of dryer balls that I know of is the klunking, which is minimized by a large dryer load. Totally livable for me so far. 

One more laundry side note while we're talking about it: I have discovered that if I use oxyclean in every load, my washer does not smell, ever (I have a front load Bosch). I used to have a problem that my darks, washed in cold, would smell musty. Now, no longer -I think because the washer is very clean and has no residual stuff growing in there. 

Happy laundry :0, and weigh in if you have any thoughts.

6.02.2016

Bor-ing

This is boring as hell.
I'm painting the staircase wall (and possibly -most likely- the rest of my main floor and ceiling) and it's dull as shit but this is what has been occupying my every free hour this week and last, and this is after all a journal of projects, so here you have it. 

It sort of all started with this leak. This came from my laundry room and is a story in itself (worthy of a separate post) because there is a lesson to be learned here.

We've been living with this eyesore since Christmas and I just couldn't take it anymore. Actually I just couldn't take how ratty the entire staircase wall looked. Btw, that smoke detector is also ugly A-S. I'm replacing it with a Nest, even though I half loath myself for caring about that. 

I began by removing all the damaged material. This repair terrified me as I was not one hundred percent sure I could re-mud this edge perfectly. 

I used good old fashioned drywall compound. I have all the tools I needed from when we repaired the drywall in the garage after the rat invasion of the early teens. My technique was to build and fill the ridge over multiple days, giving a thorough sanding in between. Boy does that make a mess. 



This is after four days of filling and sanding. Funnily I found that a Swiffer Sweeper, with sandpaper taped to it, worked great for sanding this big surface flat. After all this, I primed with Bulls Eye 1-2-3 and so far have two coats of paint (Aura Matte Simply White). I don't think I'm going to be able to get this thing to blend, hence the need to do the whole effing ceiling, all 1500 square feet of it, argh.

After I had mostly wrapped up the drywall repair, I set upon the stairs. Oliver and I have been discussing for some time that our entire main floor and stairwell (three stories) need paint. It is an enormous job -a lot of square feet in a large open space with high ass ceilings and treacherous staircases. It'd be really expensive to hire this out plus the inconvenience of having someone in the house. Plus, I'm super picky and secretly believe I can do a better job myself in the end. 

Sooooooo, I decided to forge ahead and knock out the small outer wall with the yellow door at the same time as the perimeter wall.

The tricky thing about my stairs is that I have no baseboard along the rise of the stairs. We did this on purpose for a cleaner look but I consider this in hindsight to be a design mistake. Having no baseboard makes them pretty fragile and vulnerable -because it is just painted drywall. I've had a problem with shrinking caulk and peeling paint from the water when mopping down the stairs.

Well let me tell you, I patched and sanded and primed and caulked and painted and painted and painted again. They are looking a lot better, I can't wait to take off the tape (one or two more coats on this wall first).

Up next will be this wall, the baddest of them all. It's really high and really damaged. I managed to prop my step ladder on the stairs on the flight to the bedroom floor but here it's neck-breakingly high, so this'll be a two man job. 

Cheers and happy painting if there is such a thing.

5.27.2016

Sewing Projects

Behold a bunch of sewing projects I've worked on over the past several weeks. Sometimes I work on things that I don't document very well because I'm squeezing in a half hour here or there of work between other daily activities.
All of these projects were made from my mishmash stockpile of leftover fabrics. Some have been sitting and waiting to turn into something for eons. I guess I hold onto shit because I never know when I might be able to use it.

First up is this dog bed I made for Calvin -which she clearly views as an affront, as she refuses to use it. Otis, a far less complicated creature, likes it just fine. 

Anyway, I must admit that this dog bed was born out of guilt. Its inner pillow is made from recycled beanbag fill -those nasty little foam pellets that never, ever, ever go away and which inevitably find their way to the ocean where poor creatures eat them. I'm embarrassed to admit that I actually bought that fill to make a beanbag blanket for Kit as a sensory item. He outgrew enjoying it and then I had it laying around the house. I couldn't find a place to recycle the beads and I couldn't bring myself to just throw it out. So hey, why not make a dog bed???

I started out with this wool, which I dyed to a more vibrant color.

I used Rit's Midnight Blue, and dyed in my kitchen sink with very hot water from the stove top.

I made the piping with some very thick (about 3/8")cotton cord.

The rest of the construction is typical to a box pillow method. These are the connecting panels. One for the front, and the one with the zipper for the back. Pin and sew so that the front panel overlaps the zippered section. IMO, box construction is super easy once you consider that one is just connecting a top and bottom with a panel that goes in between. Replacement cushions are easily fashioned from this method as is evident here and here.

I have ZERO pictures of the striped pillow being made. I love that fabric and have more so I'm sure I'll make a second in the same dimension. 

The bolsters are my very first attempt at this type of pillow. They were kind of tricky. Their true color is as it reads above (navy blue dyed linen). I took these photos with two different cameras and was unable to color correct in photoshop.

My first step was to cut the main body to size leaving a 1/2" seam allowance throughout. As is my common practice, I used a invisible zipper application in a contrasting color.

Zippers are made to accommodate a 1/2" seam allowance, so with a invisible technique simply align with the fabric's edge. I have terrible visual perception so I always pin and then double check that I have my orientation right (I've sewn many a zipper on the wrong side:/!).

This may seem counterintuitive, but I decided to use piping because I was not completely confident that I could sew a clean looking seam (without gathering) on the bolster edge. I have found that piping can mask imperfections at the seam.

As a foolproof measure, I turned the cover inside out and put in the insert in order to pin the circular ends in place. This worked great. I made the circular ends by tracing a plate (that -luckily- had the correct diameter) onto a piece of heavy card stock and then tracing that onto the fabric. BTW, I did my zigzag edging at the very end of this project. Sometimes I'll edge each section separately but in this case I didn't want to impact my edges and measurements at all during construction because precision seemed important. 

For me, bolster pillows read somewhat bedroomy but I'm still using them in my living room for now. I can move these puppies all over the house with that navy.

Finally, these seersucker euro squares. I had only enough fabric to do two faces and used white linen for the reverse. I used to have a duvet set that I made out of this which was awesome but disintegrated with wear. We really seem to go through bedding, I guess because I am a habitual hot water washer which must break down the fabric more quickly. I use hot water because I've read it's simply more sanitary for staving off bedbugs, besides that the dog and cat are on the bed constantly.

I resurrected this block print bedding, which I'd stashed away after the matching shams disintegrated, to coordinate with these cases. This cover comes from here -their website is not very glamorous but they've got super affordable authentic block print cotton bedding and fabrics.

I've got a lot of thoughts on bedding, I must have too much time on my hands, ha,ha,ha. Want to know more? Here.

Cheers and happy sewing!