Archive for the ‘home improvement’ Category

As promised, I took some pictures of the areas of the house I have been working on.  Let’s start in the kitchen 🙂

I went through all of my old Tupperware and matched every tub to a lid.  I decided that things get too messy when I keep the tubs and lids separate (even if it does save space).  I kept only the tubs with lids and only the ones that were in good enough shape to continue using.  They fit pretty well alongside my holiday serving plates.

Next up were the pots and pans.  Again, I started with matching up the items with the lids.  We had about 3 sets of lids from over the years—they matched nothing in my kitchen.  Gone!

I purchased an organizer that holds 2 pans and all the lids. It works perfectly because it holds the one pan and lid I use for cooking on a weekly basis—easy to take out, easy to put away.  Unfortunately, because of the way the cabinet is designed, I had to put it in backwards (which means it can’t slide in/out).  I don’t mind though.  The top shelf in the back is full of my baking dishes (pie pans, cake pans, bread pans).  I’m pretty happy with the results.

Next up, the pantry (complete with the letter “r,” just for Eric Lawrence).  It’s not perfect, but it works. We used to have a lot of extra appliances all over the place and you couldn’t walk in the door.  I got rid of the old appliances we never use any more and the ones that were broken/missing parts. Now, everything has it’s own place—even if it does still look cluttered.

The laundry room was actually finished a while ago, but I thought I would share.  Different bins for all the cleaning supplies, organized by room/cleaning surface. Works pretty well. Now I just have to start using the cleaning supplies 🙂

Master Closet—this one took a while.  I got bins for the top shelves to hold the clothes that were stacked on top before.  Across the back, there is a small stack of extra blankets and then new blue bins. They hold towels for the master bath, sheets for the master bed, and the last one has hats and purses.  On the floor there are a couple of containers of clothes being stored for different kinds of weather.  Anson and I both have a set of drawers for our work out clothes.  Hanging on the left side are my long-sleeved items organized by ROYGBIV. Along the back are my short-sleeved items, then pants, skirts, and dresses. Anson has the right side and he gets to organize it however he wants 🙂

Next stop, the upstairs! Hopefully I’ll be able to blog about it next week 🙂

We’ve gotten a couple of emails recently asking about what we have been up to. The short answer is: nothing interesting.  Anson works. I work.  Though my job is way more awesome—today, Alex and I went to the zoo and fed the giraffes (Zoos are so much more awesome now! When I was a kid…).  Anyway, I thought I might try to share some of the stuff I’ve been working on—then you can have a better understanding of what I mean when I say “nothing interesting.”

I know it’s a little late for “spring cleaning,” but I’m finally inspired to fix up the house a bit.  I just wish I were better at it!

When I started to think of ways to re-organize and better-ify my house, I had a TON of ideas.

1. Turn the library into Anson’s office.  To start this massive task, I went through all of my old books and sold/donated anything I wasn’t going to use ever again.  After 3 trips to Half Price Books (approximately 11 bags of books), I walked away with about $50 and gained some empty bookshelves.  I managed to move one empty bookshelf into the common area as well as one full bookshelf.  I was ready to move Anson’s desk into the office when Anson pointed out that there was no internet hook up in that room. Oops.  So, we ordered a 50ft cable and are waiting for it to arrive before moving anything else. 

2. Organize the Master Closet.  The closet was fairly well organized in terms of hanging items (yes, I organize my closet according to ROYGBIV).  The shelves above the hanging items are super tall and had random stacks of clothes thrown up there.  We also stored towels and sheets for the master bedroom on the shelves. Due to the height, it was almost impossible to make things look neat and tidy without using a step ladder to put items away.  We also have random bins, suitcases, etc all over the floor.  I started by going through the bins and taking out any old clothes that I will never wear again—donated—gone!  I got tubs to fold and place the clothes in before they go on the shelf.  Now it’s easy to access and put clothes on the top shelf.  I’ve still got to go through the rest of the tubs on the floor, but it’s a start.

3. Board game infestation under control.  Anybody who knows us knows that we have a bajillion board games.  I discovered just how many when I was trying to fill my trunk with games for a Game Night at my church.  I realized that we not only have a ton of games, but we store them all over the house (coffee table, closet downstairs, closet upstairs, etc).  I bought some shelves from target and built them inside the guest room closet.  I managed to locate all of our games and put them on the shelves (to be fair, only half fit on the shelves—the rest are stacked on top).  Done (sort of)!

4. Spiders are no fun.  Anson showed me a spider that can only be described as “Holy Moly that’s a GIANT spider” in the garage.  Clearly it was time to clean the garage.  I built a set of shelves and got our garage items (toolboxes, gardening tools) off the ground.  I also sprayed the garage with lavender essential oil and water. It’s supposed to deter bugs. I hope it works!  Unfortunately, we still have some items in the garage to get rid of, but I can’t do that without renting a truck.  Also, the amount of garbage/recycling I collected has completely filled the bins.  Now, there’s not room for any more trash or recycling this week. Naturally, I have tons.  There are a couple of cardboard boxes around the house that are slowly being filled with other boxes, cans, bottles, etc.  And they are just sitting around the house.  This drives me BANANAS!

5. Kitchen Chaos.  I don’t often cook. I use 1 pan and 1 pot consistently, but that’s it.  So, as I was looking around the kitchen the other day and noticed the STACKS of pots and pans in the cabinets, I thought it might be time to downsize.  I also noticed STACKS of tupperware that may or may not have lids and STACKS of random stuff in the pantry.  I bought a couple of organizers for the cabinets (lid holders, can holders, racks), but haven’t even touched them yet.  Maybe I’ll start on this over the weekend.

I would love to take before and after pictures to share, but I can’t stand the idea of taking before pictures.  The house is in a state of transition—bookshelves strewn about, boxes of organizational materials I haven’t touched yet, boxes of recyclables.  This kind of thing drives me bonkers!  I probably should have only done one of these things at a time, but I got a little excited and went a little crazy.  I look forward to sharing the after pictures though. Keep an eye out for those 🙂

The window in our kitchen gets quite a bit of action.  It’s about 5 feet from the wetlands, so it’s right next to a lot of wildlife.  We keep having birds run into the window.  No one dies, but it does make a rather disturbing thump noise. 

So, I purchased some holographic scare tape—made specifically for just such situations. In theory, you put the tape on the window and the birds are too scared to fly into it. 

I put the tape on the window one evening as the sun was going down.  The next morning as soon as the sun came up, no less than 100 birds strategically attacked the window in a terrifying rage.  They continued to fearlessly ram the window until all of the holographic tape was gone.  At least now when one or two hit the window, it doesn’t seem so bad.

This morning, however, a bird was at the window above our front door.  Tap. Tap. Tapping on the window.  Staring at me.  I would have taken a picture, but I didn’t want to lose the staring contest (no worries, I won).  They’re surrounding my house though.  I worry that one day, they’ll make their move.  Any ideas on how to scare them away before they break a window? Or themselves?

I have tried a few times over the years to grow a plant or two.  No luck though.  I had to give up on an herb garden after one season—it completed molded over.  And the other plants have just plain died.  Likely from over-watering. Or under-watering.  I can’t tell.

We’re getting some work done on our lawn this week and I would love to plant something with flowers in my yard.  I think that individual flowers would be too delicate for me to care for and a tree would be too big for our yard. So, I’m looking to find a flowering bush that can survive in the Seattle climate.  And that requires almost no work from me. It’s probably safer for the plant that way 🙂

Anybody have any suggestions?

I’d love to plant a hydrangea or something similar.  I think it’d be pretty full in appearance and there would be some nice flowers to bring in and put in a vase.

One side of our house gets a ton of sun and the other side gets almost none—go figure!  Any thoughts?


It has been far too long since I’ve posted. I usually like to wait until I have some good pictures to share before I write a post, but I’m still learning to use my new camera. Hopefully that will change soon 🙂

We’ve been slowly working on our home improvement projects.  I’ve been stalling on doing any major projects because 1) it makes me nervous to make such big/expensive changes and 2) I don’t like having strangers in the house. Thus far, we’ve just been doing small and easy projects.  We had a house cleaner come and do a spring cleaning which was WONDERFUL.  She cleaned the blinds, scrubbed the baseboards, etc.  All of those things that I have been avoiding.  Super awesome.

Because I’m not too excited to have people in the house, I’ve decided the next project will be the outside of the house.  I have scheduled for the lawn to be manicured, a small hill to be moved and a gravel path put in so that we can more easily access our shed, mulch all around the yard, removal of blackberry bushes, cleaning and de-mossing the roof, cleaning the gutters, and power-washing the sidewalk and driveway. Phew!   I’m excited to see the final result 🙂

After that, I think I will start looking at re-painting the interior of the house. It is currently a purple/gray color in every room.  Fortunately, our real estate agent, Irene Nash, has offered to come and help me pick out colors. Thank goodness!  I have no sense of style or design at all. 

That’s all for now!

Over the holidays, Anson and I got some new office equipment (I got a new computer, he got a new monitor and desk).  We spent a bunch of time setting it up and I finally got a picture of it:


Anson has his desk on the left.  His old desk (the corner desk I am now using) was no longer big enough to hold his monitor.  He got a GIANT monitor!  My desk is, of course, decorated with stuffed animals and cards from Kira.  And what office would be complete without a chair for the cat?  Beta even posed for the picture 🙂

I’ve also spent some time hanging more pictures around the house.  I haven’t “finalized” any of the new wall hangings yet, but I’ll be sure to post pictures when I do.  Maybe that would be a good resolution for me—to limit the number of holes I put in the walls. 

Anson and I have decided to get an air conditioner for our new house. Maybe I’m getting old, but this seems much harder than the last time we did this! I’ve spent the past couple of weeks interviewing contractors to install it. Of course, no 2 contractors offer the same air conditioners. And Consumer Reports doesn’t give enough information to be able to make a detailed comparison. There is, in fact, only one chart (which, of course, has the company that made our furnace on the very bottom of the list…good sign). I determined that all of the AC units we were looking at were about the same, so it came down to the contractors.

We’ve decided to go with the contractor that installed the air conditioner at our old house. Most of the articles we read said that having a good contractor install it is almost as important as which kind of AC unit you choose. At least we know this guy does good work!

The next step is where it gets a little frustrating—the paperwork. I started the process of applying for a permit to have it installed. I called the City of Kirkland offices and they led me to the paperwork that homeowners need to fill out. Naturally, it’s not written in any format that a homeowner without experience in the field could understand. There are a ridiculous amount of abbreviations! So, I’ve spent three days calling my contractor and having him answer questions for me (he’s been very nice and understanding). I finally had all of his information filled out when I discovered a line that asks for the electrician’s information. Sigh. I called the contractor and he gave me the name of the electrician he uses. I called the electrician who informed me that he pulls his own permits and I cannot pull the permit for him. I explained that I am MORE THAN HAPPY to have him pull the Electrical Permits, but I still need his information to complete the Mechanical Permits. He said, “okay, what do you need to know?”. I started to read off the list of 3 things that I needed from him and he had no idea what the form was asking for. Of course. Sigh. So, he said he would take the weekend to look up the form and call me with the information. Why is this so complicated?  Hopefully we will have AC before I head back to MD…

Maybe this is just my luck with home improvement projects? I’m convinced a trained monkey could (in general) do a better job than I can.  Let’s take the curtain rod for example. I spent 2 days working on, what the instructions described as, a 30 minute project. All I needed to do was drill 6 holes (2 for each hook), put in wall anchors, screw the hooks into place, and put the rod in it. Easy, right?  Well, maybe for a trained monkey!  I’ll list the ways I failed at this project below, in chronological order of A-HA! moment (the moment I realized what I had done wrong):

  1. I drilled the holes in the wall, but did not drill deep enough. I discovered this as I tried to push in the wall anchors and they would only go in 3/4 of the way.  I even tried hammering them in and they wouldn’t move! Drilling FAIL!
  2. On the 2nd day I went back and re-drilled all of the holes. In order to drill deep enough I had to stand on a stool holding the drill above my head and push it into the wall for about 5 minutes for each hole. On the 6th hole (that’s right, the last one) I accidentally hit the reverse button on the drill…and it went right in. I’d like to congratulate Anson’s Uncle Joe for figuring this one out!  I even double-checked! At least, I thought I had double-checked…FAIL!
  3. After re-drilling all of the holes, I tried to push the wall anchors in. Unfortunately, I had tried to hammer them in the day before. That, apparently had distorted them enough that they would STILL not go in any further than before. FAIL! So, I hammered them again. Secretly, the hooks are probably still about 1/8 of an inch from the wall. But Anson hasn’t noticed. Though that might be due to the fact that I instructed him not to touch the curtains EVER.
  4. The first hole, upon putting a mild amount of weight on the hook, would not hold the screw. Hook FAIL! So, I found a random, longer screw in the tool box and used that. I’m pretty sure it went straight through the wall anchor, but it also holds the hook in place. Phew!
  5. The middle two holes were uncooperative. Even with extra drilling AND hammering, the wall anchors were still too far out to put the hook up (not to mention, the hammer was taking out chunks of wall instead of pushing the anchor in…oops!).   AND, since I hammered the anchors so much, they are now too soft to remove from the wall. It kind of looks like the wall has little tubes coming out of it. I’m categorizing this one as a hammering FAIL. Though, the curtains cover it up. Speaking of the curtains…
  6. We wanted room-darkening curtains. I bought a cream/brown striped set that looked like it matched our bedroom set. When I hung it up, it turned into a 1970’s yellowish-brown. But, since it technically darkens the room and covers the holes in the wall….FAIL-ish?

I’d like to dedicate this post to Angie—and ask her to remember it when I get to MD and she needs help around the house 🙂

We finally have all of our furniture! YAY!

I spent some time yesterday working on a photosynth of the main open area of our house. It took quite a bit of work! I took about 400 pictures and the program recommends no more than 300. So, after a LONG synthing process, I got a final product that turned out okay. It’s 90% synthy :)  It’s not quite as smooth as I would like, but I’m pretty sure it would explode if I tried to add more pictures. Anyway, take a look at our new furniture:

Recently, we have been working very hard on improving our house. We spent almost every day of Anson’s winter vacation going to furniture stores, taking pictures, measuring, going home, measuring, going back…you get the idea 🙂

We have now made all our purchases and are waiting for the deliveries. Yay! The first room that got all its new furniture was the bedroom. It’s a cherry wood  bedroom set that’s a bit oversized, but we love it. In fact, it actually makes our bedroom look normal in size (which is pretty amazing!). We were trying to think of a way to share our new home with our family on the east coast. So, here’s the solution we came up with: photosynth!  It’s a program that combines hundreds of photos (which you provide) and creates a 3-D experience. For our purposes, a tour!

Here is the photosynth of our master bedroom (yes, I know we have no artwork on the walls yet—we’re working on it).


The photosynth program seems to work pretty well. It’s a bit more work than the video tutorial implies…I had to take about 4x as many pictures as I thought I would. But, overall, it’s a ridiculously simple process. Download photosynth. Take pictures. Put pictures on computer. Open them in photosynth program. Click the synth button. Done!


I’ll work on photosynth-ing the other rooms of the house as they get closer to finished. We have recently received the new living room furniture and are just waiting for the dining room stuff…which is on back order. So, it may not be until February. But, it’ll be worth the wait 🙂