Weekend Report

Now it’s time to fix all the stuff we destroyed last weekend.

  • Trips to the hardware store: 3
  • Cats trying to defy gravity: 1*
  • Square feet of plaster removed: 1.25
  • Holes patched: 4
  • Switches replaced: 1
  • Pounds of Halloween decorations Matt wouldn’t let me buy: 100
  • Marathons getting between me and IKEA: 1**
  • Automated phone services that made me completely lose my shit: 1***
  • Light fixtures straightened: 1
  • Knee-wall supports added to the attic: 1
  • Yards of fabric purchased: 19


Any guesses on what I’m going to be for Halloween? It’s going to be SPECTACULAR!


*Schmutz jumped up on the railing around our upstairs landing, lost her balance, and fell onto the first stair landing. She immediately bounced up, inflated, and bolted away (partly out of fear from the fall and partly out of fear from Matt yelling SCHMUTZ! as her saw her topple over the edge). Then we had to chase her down to making sure she didn’t seemed damaged.  Luckily cats are pretty bouncy so she seems shaken up but otherwise ok.

**We pretty much couldn’t head south on Sunday thanks to the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon that was running down Summit Ave.  Luckily it cleared up by 3 so Matt could still make it to his favorite bar for the Packer Game.

***Why do all ISPs suck? Our current one kept screwing with us so we decided to switch back to the other crappy option here (since if they both really suck, why not opt for faster speeds?) and the idiots canceled our service a week too early.  On the weekend.  When they have no customer service hours. Luckily we were still able to connect to the other ISP’s hotspots before they do our install.


State of the Bathroom Address

You know how I was all gung-ho about the bathroom makeover a few weeks ago?  You might be wondering what all I’ve accomplished.

Absolutely nothing.


Well, ok, I painted the radiator and we replaced the vanity light (with a new crooked vanity light that will need to be re-positioned ), but other than that, absolutely nothing… and given how long ago I started this it does really feel like nothing.

Yup, that’s right.  I caught the plague or mono or malaria or something* and it lingered forever. Even after I thought I was better it came back with a vengeance and I had to take another sick day from work.  I was utterly exhausted constantly and one of my co-workers tried to convince me I might be pregnant (spoiler alert: I’m not). So yeah, I was barely getting off the couch much less tackling the bathroom.  Then the first weekend I was back to normal we skipped town to visit family (and attend a friend’s baby shower. A comic book themed baby shower with no stupid games.  This is why we’re friends).

Once I finally felt alive again we started working on reinforcing our windows (they’re triple paned so super heavy and awesomely sound-proof, but the upper sash is only supported by some plastic pieces which have started to give way) and getting the porch painted before it’s too cold

Now we have a giant hole we need to patch around the new light (thanks for nothing previous homeowners) and THEN we’ll probably actually started painting.


*I actually still have no clue what I had except that it wasn’t strep.  After over a week of a killer sore throat and general malaise I was really hoping it would be so antibiotics would actually make it all better.  No such luck, I just had some sort of wait-it-out viral awfulness.

Slice of Life: Astronomy Division

So tonight there’s supposed to be a Harvest Moon/Super Moon/Lunar Eclipse, but I apparently fail at life and Matt called me on the way home from his board meeting to remind me.

Matt: So the eclipse is just starting

Me: I can’t see the moon!

Matt: Well of course you can’t, it’s being eclipsed*

Me: I even looked up what direction the moon should be in and can’t see anything! I’m so bad at astronomy that I can’t even find the moon!**

Matt: Um, ok then.  I’ll just head home then.

Once he did get home he dragged me across the street to where you could actually see the moon and, despite the light pollution of living in St Paul (and it being a lot smaller than I expected for a Super Moon), it was pretty cool. And it really did turn reddish near the end… and that’s when we went inside because we’re totally not astronomers.  Obviously.





*He thinks he’s funny, and sometimes he is…this was not one of those times

**This is pretty true. Don’t even try to point out constellations to me.  I’ve spent several summer evenings sitting in a hot tub with friends and making up my own dam constellations like Jump Roping Kangaroo and Two Headed Sloth.  This is was in high school so there wasn’t even any alcohol involved, although we did skip Senior Ball in favor of the hot tub, a tea party, and a Monty Python Flying Circus marathon so it’s entirely possible our families and fellow students thought we were doing drugs.

Weekend Report

Another busy weekend:

  • Hardware stores visited: 3
  • Light fixtures removed: 2
  • Light fixtures replaced: 2
  • Light fixtures that will need to be re-positioned: 1
  • Wires wrangled: 9*
  • Holes put into the ceiling (intentionally): 1
  • Hole put into the ceiling (unintentionally): 0
  • Outlets/Switches replaced: 3
  • Excursions into the attic: 5
  • Days without power to most of the upstairs: 2
  • Boxes of light fixtures destined for garbage: 3
  • Boxes of light fixtures that someone may actually want: 1
  • Bandaids used: 7**
  • Electrical fires started: 0
  • Bake Sale goods eaten by cats: 1***



* 4 hots, 5 neutrals… I have no idea what’s happening in this house

**Mostly because Matt got a bunch of blisters from excessive screwdriver use (and then kept replacing them as they loosened from more excessive screwdriver use), and one because I managed to impale my index finger with a screwdriver and then started hysterically announcing to Matt that I wasn’t going to the hospital (I don’t handle needles well), thankfully it wasn’t actually that bad and a bandaid seemed to be a sufficient fix.

***It was a cheddar jalapeno biscuit I picked up for Matt since my department does a big bake sale fundraiser every year.  We left it out on the table when we went to dinner and came to find one of the cats (most likely Spencer) had chewed through the baggie it was in and devoured it, jalapenos and all. This is the cat that loves Indian food and once was the reason I had to call the vet to ask if pine nuts are toxic to cats since he ate about a tablespoon+ after we left a dish on the counter while cooking and didn’t think they need to be guarded. Schmutz on the other hand tends to eat carpet fuzzies near dinner time to prove that she’s about to starve to death.

DIY TARDIS Tablet Case


If you didn’t already know I was a nerd, well the secret’s out now.  I love Doctor Who and Firefly and Comic Books and Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and Monty Python. I think science is cool and have xkcd bookmarked. I damn near double majored in Interior Design and Biology in college.  I went out of my way to visit Douglas Adams’ grave while we were in London.

You get the idea.

So several years back when Matt got me a tablet for Christmas (a Nexus 7) I looked at it, decided it needed a case, and decided the case was a about the same size as River Song’s TARDIS journal. What to do with these revelations was kind of a no-brainer.

I was going to make a TARDIS journal cover for my tablet.

And in honor of Doctor Who Season 9, here’s how I did it.

Here’s what you need:

  • A blue tablet case to fit your tablet (I used this one in Deep Blue for my Nexus 7)
  • Blue craft foam
  • Several shades of blue craft paint
  • Black craft paint
  • Super glue
  • Xacto knife, straight edge, cutting mat, tape…the usual stuff

And here’s what you do:


Step 1: Make a pattern.  It will be slightly different depending on your tablet and case.  I started with an image of the journal, then simplified it in Photoshop, and resized it to fit my case.


Step 2: Cut your foam.  I used craft foam so the case would still be flexible since it was designed to fold into a stand as well.  Cut as few pieces as possible, really only cutting where the spaces in the design belong.

Step 3: Glue it down.  I started by centering the I shaped piece, then the 2 straight pieces on the edges, then the window cut panels, and finally the inset panels.  Dry-fit things first and trim as needed since you want their to be clear gaps between all the pieces.


Step 4: Paint, coat 1.  I taped off the section of the back that the top folds into to make a stand, and then painted the entire exterior dark blue.  I also dabbed over it with a wet paper towel to give it a more mottled effect.  Since tablet cases probably aren’t designed to be painted, an intentionally mottled paint job will hide an nicks and scrapes it may get subjected to.


Step 5: Paint, coats 2+.  Now it’s the fun part.  Dab on your other shades of blue with a damp paper towel and blend them together. There’s no really rhyme or reason to this so it may help to keep a reference picture on hand.

Step 6: Black glaze.  Take some watered down black paint and paint over everything, making sure it gets on all the groves, then wipe it off.  The groves should stay black and everything else should just get an aged look.


And there you have it, your own TARDIS tablet cover.  Obviously this works a little better with the mini tablets (or giant phones), but there’s nothing stopping you from doing this if you have a larger one too.

This guy has also help up shockingly well over the years.  I’ve had no problems with the foam coming loose, and any paint wear or dents in the foam adds to the rather beat up look it’s supposed to have anyway.

Weekend Report

We were actually pretty productive this weekend, although it was mostly smaller putzy projects with no real photo value, so here are the weekend stats:

  • Air conditioners removed: 2
  • Air conditioners that fell out of the window:* 1
  • Trips to Home Depot: 1
  • Rugs purchased: 1
  • Giant mums potted: 3
  • Shelves assembled: 2
  • 1 x 2 x 8’s purchased: 15
  • Boards cut: 34
  • Windows reinforced: 17
  • Feet of trim painted: 90
  • Cat prints left in fresh paint: 9
  • Cats found guilty of walking in fresh paint: 2
  • Feet of worthless cable removed: 200
  • Cat puke found on brand new rug: 0**
  • Hello Kitty bandaids used: 2
  • Naps taken: 3





*I lifted the sash before Matt had actually stabilized the unit so gravity took hold at this point and it crashed onto our porch roof (because of course this happened with the one on the second floor).  Matt made a spectacular Indiana Jones type save and grabbed the cord that went flying by, then hauled it back into the house before it continued on into the ground. Hopefully it will still work next year…

**This has got to be some kind of record for our cats. I swear it’s like their way of marking their territory.




Combating Sexism One Baby Shower Card at a Time

Everyone else has already done it, so I suppose it’s time for me to weigh in on the Great Target Gendered Labeling Debate of 2015.

I have no problems with pink and blue versions of different toys.  I don’t think that liking pink and sparkles and Barbies is a sign that your daughter will not grow into a strong, independent woman. Hell, I loved my Barbies and My Little Ponies when I was little and today “girls’ nights” with my friends typically consist of discussions of politics, feminism, science, and books (that and booze, obviously).

What I do have a problem with is labeling things as gender specific when the only possibly gendered aspect is the color.

For example, cards (also Building Sets vs Girl Building Sets, but this is really about my breakdown in the card aisle)

I was at Target looking for a birthday card and baby shower card. For the record, I hate shopping for baby shower (and wedding) cards.  They’re usually ungodly sappy or cutesy which I just cannot get behind. As I was prowling the cards looking for something not absolutely nauseating (and not $10+ because come on Papyrus, your stuff is gorgeous, but let’s be real, it’s a card, it will probably get thrown out in under a week) I started noticing the labeling. There were “Boy Birthday” cards that appeared to be labeled as such purely because they were blue.

Sorry, that’s not a “Boy Birthday” card, that’s just a birthday card.  I can understand labeling the cards “boy” or “girl” if the writing in the card in gender specific, but not just because the card itself has flowers or dinosaurs on it. People are generally smart enough to pick out a color/pattern suitable for whatever their kid likes (and maybe their daughter/niece/whoever happens to like dinosaurs, or maybe their son/nephew/whoever happens to like pink).

I also have a beef with unequal equivalent merchandising. This example has been making the rounds and it’s unfortunate for a number of reason.  1) You want your preschooler dating?  Creepy much? and 2) Why can’t a girl be a future super hero? It’s not like there have never been female super heroes (Storm, Wonder Woman, Black Widow… there was even a female Robin). I’m not even terribly bothered if the girl “equivalent” is just a pink version of the same thing.  It’s mildly eye-roll worthy,  but I get that a lot of little girls really do like pink and if your little girl doesn’t, well then get her the non-pink “boy” version.  Is she happy? good.  Are you happy? good.  Does anyone else’s opinion remotely matter here? no.

The shower card I ended up with was this cute little onesie-with-a-cape cutout saying “super cute.” Since the proud parents-to-be are having a Wonder Woman themed nursery* and had a super hero themed shower invite it seemed perfect. The problem? The inside was all “congrats on your new baby boy” and there was no “super cute” girl’s card.

So I bought the damn card.  For a baby girl shower because fuck that, girls can be super heroes too!

Luckily Photoshop (or really any text editing program + a printer) is a great tool for subversion.


Seriously, would it have been so terribly difficult to make the inside text gender neutral?** Not that I think every single product needs to be gender neutral, but text inside the vast majority of cards? Easy-peasy. And since most cards suck anyway you’re not even really losing anything (plus cards are sort of designed to be written in so if you keep the printed text simple the buyer can customize, and gender-ify, all they want).

And in closing, a comic on sexism, since this goes far beyond gendered marketing, and the issues don’t only affect women.


*Which I think is both awesome and badass

**And I’m totally counting “hero” as gender-neutral and not worrying about “heroine” because that’s just splitting hairs at this point. Just like actor vs actress or painter vs…. oh wait. Matt did suggest the title of accountrix to one of my (female) CPA friends and I do actually think that one’s a winner.

And in the Not-So-Pretty but Important Corner…

… is our new boiler!


I wasn’t lying about the not-so-pretty part.

We knew when we bought the house that the existing boiler was elderly and probably not going to last much longer.  We had someone come out for a maintenance estimate to see if we could get it to limp along for a couple more years and they discovered that it was leaking carbon monoxide.  Aw hell no. It was fairly slow leak (and only when the boiler was on so we haven’t been at risk in the hot summer months we’ve been here) but it was probably only going to get worse and that’s not something you want to mess with.  Like at all.  That combined with the fact that even just triaging the damn thing would have been pretty pricey we just opted for a full replacement.  yay….

I was up at stupid-early-for-my-day-off o’clock this morning, the cats got locked in the bedroom, and we had the boiler guys making all kinds of noise in the basement.  I don’t envy that job at all, it seems super labor intensive and REALLY dirty. Schmutz was also just starting to become fully adjusted to the new house (and didn’t run away when the HVAC guys knocked on the door) but I think today may have set her back a bit since she spent most the time curled up in the corner of my closet.

The good news though is that in replacing the boiler they moved it from a rather annoying location (where the venting caused a pretty low clearance to the “workshop” corner of the basement) to a nice out of the way corner.  This also fixed the venting issues the previous boiler had AND they cleaned up the venting on our water heater at the same time.

The pretty cool news is that we also got the Nest thermostat. I was intrigued as soon as I started reading reviews/blog posts on it a while back and Matt got intrigued once some friends of ours (who also have boiler + radiators for heating) installed it.  The HVAC company who did our install warned us they have encountered problems when it’s hooked up to a boiler/radiator system instead of a furnace/forced air system but our friends haven’t run into any trouble so we decided to go for it and see what happens.

We are now ready for winter! And since it’s September in MN that could really start any day now… nrgh


Let the Bathroom Begin: Concept + Demo

Now that the bulk of the kitchen work has finished up and I can move on to the Brown Bathroom of Despair.  Seriously, this room is pretty bad.


I’m pretty sure it looks even more dismal in person.

First there’s the scary make-up mirror which looks like it was added in the 80’s and really only gets in the way. There’s also trim molding running along the perimeter of the room about half way up the wall, only it’s not attached vertically like molding, but rather horizontally like a little shelf.  A crappy, narrow, and slightly angled shelf.


Then there’s the fact that the medicine cabinet is not recessed into the wall and someone apparently cut a chunk out of the window trim so that absolutely fugly light would fit.


And then of course there are the walls themselves.  They’re covered with this rather nasty tile board stuff that looks like a bad vinyl floor but on the walls.


Plus everything is just brown… except the inside of the closet which is dark dark green.


Brown is not really my favorite color for interiors, but it can be done very well.  This however is not one of those times.  I want a bright and airy, spa-light bathroom.  I want it to feel clean. The beige and brown and general dated-ness of the fixtures just make this room feel old and dirty.

So here’s the plan:


I want the permanent surfaces and fixtures to feel like they belong in the house so the hex tile is an absolute must for me.  I know subway tile is ridiculously trendy at the moment and trendy rarely overlaps with classic, but I think it will work really well with the hex tile for the vintage bathroom vibe.  I’m going to try and talk Matt into keeping the clawfoot too.

The medicine cabinet will get replaced with just a mirror since we have plenty of storage between the bathroom closet and hall linen closet. The fugly wall light will also get upgraded to this beauty from West Elm and the towel bars near the sink will get switched to wall hooks by the tub.

I’m going to remove the closet door and replace it with a curtain so the cats will still have easy litter box access without the litter box being all up in yo’ face. The incredibly haphazard shelves are going to get switched out as well.

We have the shower curtain and cat print already and I happen to really like them.  They’re fun and quirky without being too juvenile feeling. I also happen to like the white and aqua color combo for the bathroom since I think it works for the light and spa-like feel I’m going for.

The bathroom makeover is also going to be done in stages since ultimately we’re just going to gut the thing.  In the meantime though I’m going to demo all the gross non-permanent fixtures (medicine cabinet, light, towel bars, trim) and paint ALL THE THINGS.  Sometime (probably well into the future) we’ll rip out the tile board and floor, even out the walls, tile the floor and walls, and replace the vanity.

This weekend we tackled the demo work and after many stripped screws, and much swearing* we had a pile of this:


And were left with this:


Gee… I wonder when the last decor update was? The light is staying (temporarily) since the West Elm one is back ordered and I don’t want bare wires sticking out of the wall.

Stay tuned for paint!



*Those stupid trim crappy-not-really-a-shelf pieces were nailed in with 3″ nails.  Overkill much? The whole bathroom demo process was a great stress/anger management tool.  Stress at work?  BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF SOME FUGLY TRIM WITH A HAMMER.  Annoyed because your husband ruined one of your favorite paint brushes? SMASH THE CHEAP WOOD TOWEL RACKS TO BITS BECAUSE YOU CAN’T UNSCREW THEM.