Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Darlene's Basement

I spend a lot of quality time in the unfinished basement with the washing machine and the cats. There is plenty of room down there, it's just chopped up in a drywall-gray, Tetris-like layout.

I thought I might get more joy out of folding tee shirts if I could do next to a sunny yellow wall, so I decided to do a quick little update. I even took a couple pictures before I started.

To the right of the dryer, you'll see the dusty plastic shelves that were there when we moved in, holding myriad random unnecessary objects. To the left of the washer, you see the lone chair that tries very hard to hold my folded laundry. And then in the bottom picture you can see the lovely patchy walls.

I estimated it would take an afternoon to pretty up this area, and I started by cleaning off those shelves. But alas, cleaning begets cleaning, and I carried it all the way around the (unpictured) basement, clearing and organizing the work bench, storage area, shelves, sink, and kitty domain. Why paint one wall when you can paint five?  (Yes, five walls. It's not the Pentagon, it's just oddly shaped.)

I bought a three bin laundry sorter with a flip top surface for folding clothes ($40 at Target but already worth it. I had been sorting the clothes into basket or sometimes piles on the floor. About three feet from the litter boxes. The situation was dire.) The shelves/bar/hanging bin are from Ikea. Huge improvement.

Inspired, I primed and painted the rest of the ugly drywall, tamed the mess, and hung a $10 Ikea light in the scary dark corner.  I also a hung an elementary school-esque clock and a few colorful gig posters that I already had framed. You know, to class the litter boxes up a bit. I may have gotten carried away, but I no longer mind folding the laundry.

 Unrelated:  Because I noticed it A LOT while typing this post, what's up with the whole 'one space after a period' thing we have going on now? I learned to type on a good old-fashioned red-blooded American typewriter, where we used TWO SPACES after a period like our fathers and their fathers before. Using two spaces on this blog creates awkward spacing issues. Are we SO BUSY that the extra space just takes up too much of the time we could be spending reading about cats and cheeseburgers (or some more recent internet meme...I can't keep up)? Back in my day, kids today, blah blah.  I think I'm Old.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Eee Eye Eee Eye Oh

I have a lot of variations of this conversation in my life.

"Hi, I'm Darlene, nice to meet you."

"Hi Darlene, my name is Random Person, nice to meet you too.  So, what do you do for a living?"

"I'm a travel agent."

"Oh, wow, so you fly for free and get more free trips than game show contestants and you work from a cruise ship all day and sit around looking at all the pictures you took on all of your free trips?"

Um, no.

But I completely understand the tendency to glamorize the job of a travel agent.  TRAVEL is right there in the name.

I do the same thing with farmers. I want to live on a farm and feed the animals and eat fresh eggs and smell the country air and cook hearty breakfasts for the farm hands and tend the gardens in boots and ride a horse to go check on the fields and see the stars at night.

I know in my head that farming is actually hard work.  There used to be a dairy farm in my extended family in western Pennsylvania, always with milking cows but also random goats, turkeys, ducks, chickens, and horses.  I spent many days as a girl  with my cousins wandering the grounds, talking to the animals, climbing in the barns, and chasing the chickens. The rose-colored portion of my brain imagines a farmer's life as just like that.

Now I live in a condo with a tiny patio, and idealize Farm Life. Grass is greener, et cetera.

However, I've managed to grow some food on that patio, and tonight I harvested chard and thyme, two expensive ingredients in tonight's dinner that I didn't have to add to the grocery list.  Eating food from just outside my back door is extremely satisfying and extra delicious.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

No Pattern Pillows

I love the idea of sewing.  I love that I have a sewing machine, and I like to imagine myself as someone who could just whip up something just like that - snap.  But I am not that person. Sewing is tedious and time-consuming, what with all of the measuring and tracing and pinning and blah I don't even know because I skip those steps whenever possible.

Very impatiently, I measure and pin just enough so that everything looks fine.  Luckily, uneven hems or wavy lines do not upset me. I tend towards less expensive fabrics and Freestyle Sewing.

We took the heavy sticky sliding doors off the master bedroom closet and replaced them with great graphic Ikea curtains.  (I'm almost done with the New Closet!)  But tonight I had fabric left over and made four pillow covers super quick like, with zero measuring.  They were really fun to make and actually look pretty good.

The curtains were over a foot too long so I had too much fabric left over to just throw away.  And I remembered that I had four uncovered tiny pillows that had been sitting in a closet for a couple years. I think I paid $1.99 each for them at Ikea long ago, but they have just been bouncing around closets ever since.  Perfect.

I had just enough fabric to make four envelope pillow covers.  I used the pillow as a guide instead of a measuring tape.  I first folded over the short edges about half an inch, ironed them, then folded them again and ironed them again.  I sewed these in place.  I then folded the fabric into an inside out envelope shape and sewed along the unfinished edges to make a pillow pocket.  Flip them back right side out and voila.  Instant pillows. And no wasted fabric.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back Again

Wow it's been FOREVER since I posted here.  I had this idea that I would make things and paint things and cook things and sew things and then post all the pretty pictures here and la la la la la.

As it turns out, making and painting and crafting and cooking take a lot of time away from blogging. And not all of the pictures are pretty.  I've been stuck in repair mode, react mode.

Things. Keep. Breaking.

The shower rod broke.

Which means now is a great time to paint the bathroom but I haven't decided on the color yet, so I am just dealing with the precariously balanced shower rod.  The toilet inside bits also broke, and I haven't gotten around to fixing it yet because the water shut-off valve is SO TIGHT and can't I just put on my pajamas and watch True Blood and eat some ice cream and go to bed?
I don't have a picture of the broken toilet, but just imagine a regular toilet with the top to the tank sitting on the bathroom floor.  It looks like that.  Fully functional, just more manual than normal.  Although still better than what they were working with back in the day at Versailles.  (This is how I convince myself that it will be ok until NEXT weekend...)

The closet broke.  I didn't take a picture of it when it broke, but we had these type of wire shelves in the bedroom closet.

Apparently our clothes are really heavy, or wire shelves just plain suck, because they collapsed.  And then it looked like this.

I tried to buy new fasteners but apparently the marketing geniuses at ClosetMaid decided to ever so slightly change the size of the wire racks some time in the last thirty years so that the new brakets would not fit on the old shelves.  But TOO BAD, ClosetMaid Marketing Geniuses, I refuse to buy more stupid wire shelves.  I hated the old shelves anyway, so I ripped them all out and started over.  Closet systems are way too expensive; I worked it out using mostly Ikea shelves, so far.  The kitchen ones work well for clothes on hangers.  I am hoping to finish the closet next weekend.  Ha.  Always next weekend.

The cat broke.  (The dumb one.)  He forgot how to use a litter box and decided that the carpet in the basement hallway would do just fine.  Have you ever tried to get the smell of cat pee out of anything? There are some fine products that almost did the trick, but he just kept coming back to the same area of the rug.  And then we couldn't get the smell out anymore.  So now I have this.

Which of course has inspired an entire basement redo.  I've almost finished the unfinished laundry room side and now I am gathering ideas for the finished basement area.  What have I gotten myself into?

The list is long, so long that it's scary. And I still like to fit in new recipes and crafts and (patio) gardening and, um, True Blood.  So I've made a deal with myself that after a long hard day of actual work at my actual job I would dedicate 7ish to 9ish pm to making things.  Whether I make curtains or noodles or coasters or shelves or tomatos, I will make something.  And hopefully it will be something awesome. Or pretty. Or delicious. Or useful.  Ready, set, go!