We’re alive!

Matt and I just returned from a pretty epic European vacation–London, Prague, Amsterdam, and Reykjavik.  It was delightful (minus some minor mishaps) and gorgeous, and we managed to experience the worst summer storm in recorded history in Amsterdam. I’ll do a mini rundown once I get my pictures sorted, but if you want an even briefer rundown you can check out my Instragram feed.

Also, as soon as I stepped off the plane in MSP my back spasmed or something so now I’m pumped full of pain meds and wedged into the couch so my crazy optimistic plans for today (counter tops! kitchen faucet! window repair!) have kind of stopped in their tracks.  Matt tackled the window repair since a nasty storm here the day we left did a number on 2 of our windows leaving our (awesome) cat sitters to have to come up with a temporary fix. I’m hoping I’ll be functioning again by this weekend since I’m itching to finish up in the kitchen and start work on the Brown Bathroom of Despair.

Curtain Panel DIY

When we moved in to our house there were no existing window treatments At All.  Not even the really shitty blinds like the ones that we had in our apartment.  I stocked up on inexpensive rods and curtains at IKEA and we strategically placed a few tension rods and curtains to have up until I actually start installing the curtain rods.  The problem is in the bedroom.  We have an air conditioner in one of the windows so I had to swag the curtain off to the side which leaves a big open gap of window and also leaves me to have to get dressed wedged into a corner.


The last time I was at IKEA I picked up one of their panel curtains in the hopes of making a quick ‘n dirty privacy screen for our bedroom windows.  The panel curtains do let a fair amount of light filter through, but also provide a nice privacy layer for bedrooms, bathrooms, or any place where you don’t want people just staring in.  The downside is that they are only 24″ wide… our windows are about 30″ wide so it’s not a perfect solution (although there’s a fair amount of window casing in that 30″ so the panel does cover all the glass + a little overlap).

Now, you can buy the hanger IKEA sells for their panel curtains… but they’re $10 a piece so that’s $20 for our bedroom windows.  I cobbled together a way to hang both of them for around $5 and then figure I can buy a bottle of wine.  Win. (Also I didn’t really like the visual heaviness of IKEA’s system… and I do like wine).



  • IKEA Panel Curtain (I used one GRYNET for both our windows)
  • Fusible webbing
  • 1/4″ dowel or small piece of wood, 24″ long (optional)
  • Cup hooks
  • Grommets (I like the tiny ones because they aren’t very noticeable)


Step 1: Measure your windows. Like I mentioned, the panel curtains come in very limited sizing options.  As long as your window glass is narrow than 24″ you should be able to pull this off and if you happen to have window that’s narrower than 24″ you can cut the panel down width-wise.  You also need the height of the window.  Measure from the height from the inside of the wood frame, subtract about a 1/4″ to compensate for the cup hooks and add 2″ if you’re going to hem both ends. (Full disclosure: I didn’t follow these measurement guidelines at all, I just eyeballed it cuz I’m a badass DIYer like that)


Step 2: Hem (the easy way). I hemmed the top using a fusible web to create more stability for the grommets. Fold the top over an inch and follow the directions with your fusible web.  The panel curtain is not meant to be ironed but go slow and you should be fine. If you didn’t fail at step 1 like I did (math is hard) you can do the same thing to the bottom or glue the fabric around a dowel or other small piece of wood (but paint the wood white first).


Step 3: Grommet.  I did 3 grommets across the top of the panel–1 in the center and other 2 about 1″ from each edge.  Grommets can be a little tricky if you’ve never used them before.  The key is getting the hole in the fabric just slightly smaller than the grommet that you will push through.  The best way I’ve found is to take a little pair of embroidery scissors and just push them through the fabric (twice, forming a small X) instead of trying to cut out a hole.  When hammering the grommets it’s also a good idea to put a magazine or piece of cardboard underneath and this will keep the shape of the “display” side of the grommet looking a little nicer.


Step 4: Drill baby drill. Mark a spot on the underside of the top of the window molding in the center and about a 1/2″ from the back to compensate for the cup hooks and drill a small pilot hole.  I wanted the panel to hang pretty close to the window so you could hang it further out if you wanted to. The small cup hooks are a little annoying to screw in just because they’re small and can be hard to grab, especially that close to the window.  Once I got the center hook in, I hung the panel and then marked where the other 2 grommets fell.  Drill, screw, hang, and you’re done! Simple, elegant, and you won’t have to worry about flashing your neighbors.


Now go and enjoy that bottle of wine.



I’m really sorry this last photo is so crappy.  I was trying to get a respectable end result photo, but was pretty much shooting right into the light.  You can at least get the general idea though.

PSA for Movers & Travelers

If you are, say, planning an international trip after moving but before you are actually unpacked, it is very important to make sure the keys to the safe (where the passports are kept) are put in a Safe Place.  And because we all know what happens when you put something in a Safe Place you probably want to write yourself reminders of where that place is, and possibly get that reminder tattooed on your forehead as well.

Seriously, hearing “So… where did we pack the keys to the safe?” from Matt freaked me out way more than the news on the London Tube Strike and potential Grexit combined.  Thankfully the keys were found*, I double triple quadruple checked that the passports had not mysteriously vanished, suddenly expired, or spontaneously combusted, and EuroTour** 2015 is still on!***

Unrelated: This is the best thing I’ve read all day. I sort of want to move Toronto now… I may have found my people.

Also, there will be more actually design related updates coming.  The boxes need to be moved out of the kitchen so I can paint, and my temporary counter top solution needs to arrive so we can fix the beat up laminate and replace our faucet and then I can move on to the Brown Bathroom of Despair!



*The Safe Place turned out to be the bottom of my purse.  Naturally.

**We’re going to 4 countries and only one actually uses the Euro.  Are we efficient or what?

***Matt moved the keys to a new Safe Place.  Wish us luck for when it’s actually time for us to leave.

Slice of Life: Arachnophobia Division

This conversation just happened via text today:


Me: And by infested I mean I found one on my car

Matt: Yikes

Matt: But I’m on hold with Century Link

Matt: So I’m in a worse spot than you

I may or may not have danced around the Target parking lot waving a shoe menacingly at my car.  Also spiders and ISPs both suck.

Just Chillin’

So we’ve moved! (Nearly) all our stuff is at the house now and the cats are doing considerably better.  Poor Schmutz had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very bad Day yesterday since the cats had to get stuffed in the bathroom while the movers were at our apartment.  Matt let them out after the movers left and Schmutz took one look at the empty rooms and went back to hide behind the toilet.  She was doing better at the new place except she cried all night long (making me rethink ever having kids).  Spencer has taken everything is stride because he is the most chill cat I have ever met.

Today we celebrated the 4th of July (or Ungrateful Colonials Day, or That Weird Day When a Bunch of Crazy Americans Set Shit on Fire depending on where you live) in true American fashion: booze and power tools.  We bought a sliding compound miter saw for me and would have bought a nail gun (also for me) except we discovered it was cheaper on Amazon and we have no immediate need so we’ll just order it.

I am also very happy to discover that our house is so much cooler than our apartment.  We brought one of our window A/C units over right away since I was positive I’d need it while painting and we never even put it in the window.  Last night was totally comfortable with just our ceiling fan but we stuck the A/C in the bedroom this afternoon just so we’d be prepared for any heat waves in the future.  It is very refreshing to know that our house does not get any where near as oppressively hot as our apartment did.

We also just got the results of our asbestos testing back (which is totally worth doing in older homes, since you want to know these things especially if you’re planning future DIYs).  Our siding and pipe insulation are asbestos (which we were already 90% sure of) but in good shape so we only need to worry if we’re doing any work involving them.  The vermiculite insulation in the attic was negative (vermiculite was possibly contaminated with asbestos for awhile after asbestos was no longer being used) and the random ceiling tiles we have in a couple rooms were negative (I had absolutely no idea how likely they were to be asbestos, but ceiling tile are one of those things that can be so I figured I’d rather just get them tested). So nothing unexpected which was awesome and since we also want some work done in our attic we also don’t have to worry about asbestos precautions for our contractors.

We even watched some fireworks today… on YouTube… #lazyamericans


Kitchen Progress!

And the cabinets are DONE!  There’s still a lot of work to do in the kitchen, but the cabinets are done before our movers come which was my goal.



You can see my crappy paint job around the frame–the walls are going to be painted so I didn’t bother taping around the frames.  Also, check out our gorgeous counters.  The chipped, fake butcher block laminate just makes the kitchen, dontcha think?


The paint color is Behr’s Poppy Seed, but I used Benjamin Moore Advance paint cuz that’s what all the cool kids use on cabinets nowadays.  I would have tried Behr’s equivalent alkyd enamel, but they apparently don’t sell it in stores and I’ve already touched on my patience issues.  I’m kind of an Advance fan girl now though.  The hardware is all IKEA, spray painted with copper and clear coat.  I swear the handles are all perfectly even, but the doors are a little wonky so all my anal-retentive measuring was apparently for naught.  The cup pull had to be mounted higher than I would like because of how the drawer front attaches, but I may try and mess with it in the future since it bugs me.

Overall I am incredibly happy with the result!  I’m also incredibly happy we didn’t have more cabinets since painting them can be a little tedious.  Still to come: more paint, new faucet, and a counter top solution.  Oh, and lots and lots of stuff since our movers come tomorrow.

Slice of Life: Real Estate Division

Me: We missed our chance!

Matt: For what?

Me: The F. Scott Fitzgerald house is for sale!

Matt: Really?

Me: It’s even under a million!

Matt: Well it is just a rowhouse.

Me: It’s huge! It’s 3,441 square feet!

Matt: Really?

Me: YES! It’s bigger on the inside!


Matt: The Summit umbrella really bothers me.  I like Summit and all, but you know who didn’t? F. Scott Fitzgerald.  You know why? Because he was dead.

Paint in my hair, don’t care

I attacked the horrible brick red radiator this week and man is spray paint a bitch in confined spaces!  If you’ve never tackled painting a radiator before, here’s my quick rundown.

Step 1: Prepwork

Give the radiator a good cleaning.  A flexible dryer vent brush is seriously your best friend here.  If you have never cleaned out the inside of a radiator before, be prepared to be amazed at how much nastiness you’ll knock out.  If there’s any flaking or bubbling paint, take it off with a wire brush or sandpaper (if you think the paint could be lead based, be careful and look into appropriate precautions).  You’ll also want to wash it all down to get ride of any remaining dust or particles.


Step 2: Tape off everything like you’re trying to make your own hazmat decon unit.


The biggest problem with spray paint is over-spray. Not a big deal if you’re outside, but if you have ANYTHING you don’t want paint on in the same room, cover it.  I didn’t cover absolutely everything and there’s a fine dust all over the floor (the particulates dry pretty quickly as they drift, so this actually isn’t a bad clean up).  I taped around all the feet and pipes, layered craft paper (or cut up grocery bags) over that, drop clothed to cover a wider spread, and taped lightweight plastic sheeting to the walls and over the brick (FYI painters tape does not like brick.  At. All.).


Step 3: Light Layers


I really didn’t use anything special for paint, just Rustoleum Universal white in a satin finish.  The sprayer on these bottles is pretty sweet and doesn’t cause annoying finger cramps like the standard spray nozzles can.  Rustoleum sells a High Heat spray as well, but since their normal spray paint is good up to 200 degrees there’s really no need for the high heat stuff.  They also make a Radiator Enamel… but I couldn’t find it in stores near me so Universal it was.  Don’t worry about getting a good coat on the first pass.  In fact, don’t even try.  You want light layers so they dry faster and don’t get all drippy. Also, get as much ventilation as you can cuz this stuff is pretty potent.  If you know several friendly weightlifters you they can also disconnect the radiator and haul it outside making a lot of this considerably easier.


Step 4-Infinity: Lather, Rinse, and Repeat


Lots and lots of light layers.  Patience is important here… and it’s totally not one of my strong points.  I got up to coat 5 before I ran out of paint.  Trying to cover up red is probably especially difficult… so is trying to paint something complicated that’s stuck in a corner.


Step 5: Fuck it, just use a brush

After coat 5 I was out of spray paint and didn’t really want to keep going.  Plus I had also covered myself in a layer of spray paint and didn’t really feel like another day of trying to scrub it all off.  I picked up a tiny can of Rustoleum white paint in a satin finish and used a foam brush to touch up the areas I failed at spraying.  If I had to do this all over again, I’d probably just brush paint from the start. I also forgot my camera at home at this point and then collapsed into a puddle of moving exhaustion, but you’ll get to see it soon once I’ve got the cabinets finished.  Spoiler: It looks a lot like the last picture from step 4, just a lot better close up.  Crazy.

Kitchen Dreamin’

Matt and I have been heading over to the new house daily.  We don’t fully move for another 2 weeks, but we’re hauling stuff, attacking the lawn, and getting the kitchen prepped…. then coming home, passing out and eating ice cream straight out of the container because it’s not like we’re fit to have company over anyway.

The kitchen is the big project I want to get done before moving because I doubt I’ll be motivated to pull everything out the cabinets once we get it put away.  We’re not doing a ton in the kitchen just yet, but I want to get the cabinets and radiator painted (the cabinets because they’re super boring builder grade things, the radiator because it is frackin brick red). Currently the cabinets have been primed!  Woot!  I have no pictures at this stage, partly because of the exhaustion cycle mentioned above, and partly because there is very little interesting about primed cabinetry.  It looks splotchy and white and that’s about it.

Instead let’s just skip ahead to the fun stuff.  This is my end goal for the kitchen:


Dark inky-gray cabinets, sleek copper hardware, pale gray walls, Corian Rain Cloud counters (possibly carerra marble since I’ve managed to fall in love with what is apparently the most expensive Corian pattern known to man anyway… but I like the low maintenance that comes with solid surface over stone) and a simple white ceramic tile backsplash.

Right now I’m just tackling paint and hardware. Depending on how long a time frame we’re looking at for replacement I may consider an interim DIY project for the counter and backsplash, but for now I’m just going to leave them as is. The faucet may get replaced sooner rather than later depending on what’s the cause of our low water pressure that’s currently happening in the kitchen. At some point I’d also love to replace the sink.  I’m kind of thinking an apron-front sink, but I really like double bowl sinks and they’re harder to find in an apron-front style.

As I was working on my kitchen design concept, Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook posted this beauty and I felt pretty good about where I was heading with our kitchen.

In the Begining: House Tour (Before)

So what got us so excited for the house? It’s kind of perfect (at least we think so!). Here are the untouched realtor photos so you can see the completely blank slate.

You’ve already seen the outside front. Nothing amazing, as far as I can tell the house is an American Foursquare which was basically the cookie-cutter home of the early 1900’s. The paint color…. I really dislike, but exterior painting is a pain in the arse so it won’t actually get changed until the house actually needs to be repainted.


The front porch. I am SO glad there’s a screened porch. The cats will love it. It’s awesome for nice weather lounging without the bugs…dreamy. You can also see two more doors to get into the house. Yes two. The porch appear to be an addition so that “airlock” type entry is pretty common in old homes.


The front entryway. Aren’t those stairs just to DIE for? I’m such a sucker for a good staircase and this one is pretty phenomenal. To the left is the (formal) living room and to the right is what we will be making the dinning room.


View to the living from the family room. Mmm leaded glass.


Family room. Technically this was probably originally the dining room because of the built in buffet. We’re going to use it as the TV room for a couple reasons. First, who really wants a bathroom right off the dining room?  Second, I like the open flow from TV to living room so if we’re having a bunch of people we have one large entertaining space and the buffet will get turned into a bar. That hallway to the kitchen is also a little butler pantry! How cool issat?


The Kitchen. Ok, it’s nothing special. At all. And that red radiator? UGH! We think we can make it work though. We already have a sideboard we can put under the window  (about where the bistro table is here) for added workspace and storage. Plus with the butler pantry, buffet, and a little added wall shelving we should have plenty of storage for all our kitchen stuff.


The dining room. Ugly-as-sin ceiling, right? My current thought is to install a tin (ok, faux tin let’s be honest) ceiling over it. Not entirely sure what to do about the bookshelves but I’m thinking about adding some doors down the line and using them for storing our nicer looking serving dishes and assorted decorative things.


This wonky shot of the stairs shows the upstairs 3 bedrooms and off on the left is a full bath and the stairs to the attic (it’s super distorted and nowhere near that wide in reality).


Bedroom 1. Another ugly ceiling… this one will probably just need to be torn down and drywalled over.


Bedroom 2. We’ll make this the master bedroom. A rotating platform bed has been a suggested way to make use of the 13 pairs of waist high outlets in this room (whyyyy???).


Bedroom 3.  It’s amazingly bright and here so I’ve claimed it for my office/studio space.


Bathroom. This room makes me sad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great size (and there’s a linen closet in the corner!), but just horribly, oppressively, brown right now. And that stuff on the walls appears to be vinyl flooring… dingy vinyl flooring. Yeah… THAT will be fun to remove. This is the only room to really need a total overhaul, but it will probably be done in stages.


And a shot of the backyard. I think it’s a perfect size—big enough to enjoy, small enough to take care of without going crazy.  This picture was also taken in the fall. Right now it’s actually a small jungle and we’ll be trying to figure out what are weeds and what are respectable plants and relocating them as needed.

See why we fell in love? The fact that it’s walking distant to the BEST ice cream in the Twin Cities was sort of selling point as well.