Thursday, March 31, 2011

If the people we see on TV can do it, so can we

Do you ever watch HGTV or DIY network and think, "If those idiots can install a toilet, then we certainly can!"

We think that all the time. We're two highly educated people.  One of us has run the engine room of a nuclear submarine.  One of us has dissected the socio-political landscape in the Middle East.  One of us does the taxes all by himself.  One of us figured out her Android without ever consulting the user manual.

For reals, we should be pros at reading the toilet installation instructions and assembling it like we were seasoned plumbers. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
Sometimes I think our brains are the problem. We're going about projects like science experiments. Sometimes it's good, we walk through the steps and gain valuable insights, but sometimes we get really hung up on details that don't matter in the end (like if the flange is supposed to be sitting inside or outside of the tube?).
(Or in this case: 
"How should we pry off the old flange that the builder installed using Liquid Nails?")

As weekend warriors, waging the battle in various aisles of Home Depots and Lowe's across the Triangle, the thing that we're sorely lacking and can't seem to build quickly enough is plain old experience.

Have you fallen prey to overachieving TV DIY shows or blogs?  Are you looking for more experience before tackling certain home improvement projects?

Editor's Note: Mr. Palindrome was appalled by my spelling of flange in this post.  I spelled it "phallange" which I interpreted from his pronunciation.   We're all fixed now - spelling and plumbing-wise!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Beige Room Makeover

The front guest room.  Mr. Palindrome's Room. The Beige Room.  It took a while to name this guest room, but we eventually settled on the Beige Room.  Anyone else name their rooms?

The Beige Room makeover was one of the first started and the first that was fully completed.  We started it first because it's where Mr. Palindrome lived before I moved down and we both lived there after the wedding until our master was renovated.  Here's what we started with:

And here's we ended up with:
 Calling it beige makes it seem boring, but the concept we stuck with for this room and the guest room was "Masculine with Feminine Touches."  Mr. Palindrome had bought the furniture when he joined the Navy, along with the navy and beige bedding.  I already owned an aqua bedspread, so I added that and the color scheme was born.  To balance the submarine theme going on, I threw some satin pillows on the bed and some great silky looking curtains.  I would imagine that a single floral pillow on the bed might add just the right amount of feminine, but we called it done after the first 4 throw pillows.
This was a budget room for sure.  We used the furniture, bedding and artwork that we already owned.  I bought the beige paint from Craigslist.  The shams, throw pillows, curtains, and rods were all on clearance.  Outside of the trim paint and carpet, which were all inclusive costs for the upstairs, here's the breakdown:

Budget Details
Paint via Craiglist - $10
Pillow Shams via HomeGoods - $6
Aqua Pillows via TJMaxx (YHL has the same ones in green on their couch!) - $24
Curtain Rods - $34
Curtains - $20
Furniture (Previously owned) - $0
Submarine art (Previously owned (paid for by 5 years of blood sweat and tears in the USN!) - $0
Bedding (Previously owned, but combined from my stash and Mr. P's)
Total: $94

94 smackarooneys!  This room is one of my favorite examples of how the principle of "Work with What You've Got" can be to your advantage.  Especially when you're combining households, you have the opportunity to shop the other person's stuff.  The simple addition of my aqua bedspread inspired the rest of the room.

Have you been inspired by combining a household?

Editor's note: Shane and Dawn are so right!  They obviously know the room better than me.  I've updated the before photos with the correct room now.  I should change the room name in honor of them and their blog catch :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Play it Again Sam

I'm writing this eulogy before she's even dead.  There's this step in the process of grieving that is different for a pet when you've made the decision to euthanize her.  You grieve first for the decision.  Then you grieve for the loss.  Since we've been good-bying her since Friday, I've been processing her life and the impact it had on our day to day lives as a family.

Samantha also gave me the first real feeling of being a family with Mr. Palindrome.  I'd been thinking a lot about what it meant to be a baby family on our own and figuring out when it felt real.  The first time was when we snuggled all together on a weekend morning in bed.  Samantha perched herself on Mr. Palindrome's chest, purring as the sun peeked through the partially drawn shade.  I burrowed under Mr. Palindrome's arm our feet intertwined.  Then he called us "his girls."

Tomorrow morning, we'll be taking our girl to the vet.  We'll be ending her difficult decline into renal kidney failure.  In many ways I'm relieved to not have to hear her lips smacking, wet with mucous; to not have to watch as she stumbles off balance; and to not have to get up in the middle of the night to check on her just because I got a bad feeling.  Yet I'm also heartbroken to have to make the choice and to become a two person family again.

My dear squishy face, your momma and daddy love you!
Samantha Jordan

Thank you to our lovely blog and twitter friends who have been so kind this week.  Your hearts for animals and your sympathy are much appreciated.  I hope to join you again as a mom to a fur baby when the sting of our first family pet loss has lessened a bit.  Much love to you all.

PS - Last night, Sam slept on my chest the entire night and put her paw on my heart.  Thank goodness for those little signs of peace and love.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday finds - Lavender and Gold

I won't go all "Circle of Life" on you, but I've been thinking about it recently and this week's collection speaks to me at the earth level.  It speaks of the flowers, the stone, the colors - nature.  The tear drop necklace inspired the rest.

Clockwise from Top L:
sosovintage - Fieldcrest Perfection Standard Pillow Case
Saturated Color - Wildflower Antique Bookplate
apostrophie - Harvest Necklace
22 Bay Road - Thrift Store Painting

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Birthday and Tears

I felt a lot of love today, my birthday.  My family and my friends sent cards, gifts, wrote on my wall and called.  Even Bucknell sent me this orange and blue birthday wish.
But I find myself tearful as the day draws to a close because this sweet girl,
 with her beautiful blue eyes, isn't doing very well.  You may have seen me ask on Twitter how to give cats pills.  We recently found out she had severe kidney failure and we were trying what we could (outside of a kidney transplant and dialysis) to help her.  But she's taken a turn for the worse this week and today the vet mentioned buying her a one way ticket to kitty heaven.
In the grand scheme of world problems, I know this is small.  I just thought maybe someone could relate.  We're still deciding what to do and I know it's going to be a hard week no matter what.  Blogging has been light and may continue to be light.  Thanks in advance for understanding.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Compost Pile

When I was still in high school, I think Martha Stewart was on TV around 11 am and she had a pet corner that my mom let us watch for educational purposes.  I think.  Anyone else have loose memories of that?  The veterinarian had glasses and talked about Martha's chinchillas a lot.

Anychinchilla, Martha and her 90's show introduced me to the idea of composting.  She made composting bins and added lots of night crawlers and shredded paper.  The idea had been planted, but only recently did it sprout for me.  When we moved into our house, I was set on making choices that promoted good stewardship of the earth.  One of the easiest projects was creating a compost pile in the far corner of our yard.

After a quick survey of the yard and asking Mr. Palindrome which corner would be best so as not be in the way when he seeds and mows, I settled on the corner.  To start the pile, we built up a base of leaves and some dirt that we hauled from the front beds.
 to compost?
I have this compost bucket under my sink:
To tell you the truth, the hardest thing about composting is overcoming the laziness of not wanting to trek the bucket out to the pile for dumping.

Are you composting?  If not, have you considered a bin or pile?  I'm happy to field any questions about it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dining Room Makeover Reveal

Have I told you that the previous owners of our house rented it out?  Have I told you rented it out to people who ran a daycare out of it?  If not, these pictures explain it all:

If you can look past the crayon colored walls, play pens and changing table, you can see the circa 1986 wall paper, beige trim and brass light fixtures.

The first two things that happened in this room were tearing down the wallpaper and refinishing the wood floor.  For 2 solid days, my mom picked the wall paper off.  This was a significant contribution because the wall paper had been applied directly to the dry wall.  In other areas of our house, we tried to remove it, but would eventually tear off the paper backing on the dry wall necessitating a careful application of dry wall mud which never completely fixed the uneven wall issue.  However, my mom managed to remove most of the wall paper in this room without damaging the dry wall.

Before we moved the furniture in the house, we had the carpet in the family room replaced with hardwoods and refinished the dining and living room to match the new flooring

Mr. Palindrome then spent 3 days priming, sanding, priming and sanding the walls.  We used hard core primer to cover the crayon marks.  Before I moved after the wedding, Mr. Palindrome had all of the trim painted a bright white.  Our first project after the wedding including painting this room.  We tried using this edger and while it worked alright, it was a lot of work and sometimes we got too much paint on the cartridge:

The only other renovating work we did was hanging the curtains and installing a dimmer for the chandelier.  Here's what we ended up with after purchasing a dining set off of Craigslist and staging the room:

Mr. Palindrome bought the original art on the side wall before we were married.  It's a watercolor of the view of the the harbor when pulling into the harbor in Groton.  That's the view Mr. Palindrome got very familiar with driving his submarine into the harbor at homecomings.  I love how the painting and the porthole mirror create a little unintended vignette.

The budget breakdown is pretty simple for this room, but I'm not including the all inclusive costs of the floor refinishing and the trim painting.  I'll do an overall budget post that totals the renovations that span several rooms.

Budget Breakdown

Paint and Supplies (including primer and refill pads for the edger) - $40
Curtains (Sheers on clearance from Target) - $8
Curtain Rod (Ross) - $14
Mini Lamp Shades (I scavenged another chandelier on Craigslist for the lamp shades - after removing the shades, I donated the chandy to ReStore and got a tax credit for the same amount I had just paid for the chandy and all the shades - so I'm going to say these were free) - $0
Dining Room Furniture (bought off Craigslist for $500 and paid for with Grandma Fran's generous housewarming gift - so the cost here is for the U-Haul rental for a day) - $30
Boston fern and stand (hand-me-down from Mr. Palindrome's grandparents) - $0
China (Used wedding money to buy vintage pieces off of ebay - so cost was around $200, but to us it was free) - $0
Crystal (Inherited) - $0
White table cloth (Home Goods) - $10
White cloth napkins (Home Goods) - $10
Port Hole Mirror (Inherited) - $0
Submarine Painting by Daniel Price (previously owned) - $0
Small print from Spain (Inherited) - $0
Candleholders (Home Goods) - $14
Candles (previously owned) - $0
Crystal Vase (wedding gift) - $0
Fresh Flowers (Trader Joe's) - $7
Large Brown Glass Vase - $20
Grass Vase Filler Stuff - $8
Total: $161

We've been hosting international dinner parties organized through Mr. Palindrome's grad school program.  We've definitely gotten at least $161 of enjoyment out of this room just for those occasions!  Here's a look at the in progress and in use room for one of the dinner parties:

We also recently broke out the china and crystal for a fancy Valentine's fondue dinner with another couple.  It sure beat fighting the masses at Melting Pot for $300!

Could you see the possibilities from the before pictures? How do you feel about leaving the brass chandy?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Finds - Turquoise and Sunshine

If I didn't have this blog, my place to collect fun things, my wallet would be much lighter and my house would be a smattering of whatever whim carried me off that day.  But that photograph is calling to me to make a room full of turquoise and sunshine.  Thank goodness I have the blog, or else it might be showing up in my early American with a French twist dining room - turquoise and yellow match burgundy and oriental rugs right?

Clockwise from Top L:
Dingaling - 8x10 Yellow Shopping Carts Photograph
Classic by Nature - Modern Large Teal Zebra Cushion Covers
Misopolis - Quilted Coaster
Retroburgh - Vintage Realorama Slide Viewer

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bono and LV in Africa

I've been MIA and instead of easing you back into the good ole blog, I decided to publish this bit of cray cray along with my research and thoughts.  I saw this ad in the Wall Street Journal a while ago and tore it out to save.
 Scanned from WSJ
The ad depicts do gooder Bono just touching down in the bush to help Africa while toting his Louis Vitton luggage.  My first reaction was that it was absolutely comical.  I guess he's down with dragging thousands of dollars worth of luggage through dung then flaunt it in front of those in dire need.

Then I thought, well the people in dire need probably don't know what LV is anyways.  Then I thought, I don't know if that's true, and even if it is, does that make it ok?  So before I judged Bono like I judged TOMS, I decided to do some more research.

I came across this article on Daily Mail about why ONE, Bono's campaign, has only given 1.2% of the raised money away. The purported reason of the money going to raise awareness rang hollow with me. What does "Raising Awareness" do?  What measure of success has "Raising Awareness" done?  And honestly, who wasn't already aware of the dire situation besides people who aren't in the financial position to give or people who don't care to know about the world around them anyways?  

Why can't they advocate AND do good for people on the ground?  And just where pray tell is the rest of the money going?

I continued to research and discovered that ONE attempted to start manufacturing jobs on the ground.  I started to come around and thought this was actually a good idea because it provided jobs and raised awareness, until I found articles describing how ONE's clothing line manufacturing jobs were moved to China (see one of the articles here).

After my research, I came to the conclusion that leading an awareness campaign with "Louis Vitton under your underarm" is a crock and if I want to donate to a cause that is actually helping Africans that my money is better donated elsewhere.

What do you think of ONE and Bono's efforts?