Friday, August 30, 2013

Fan of Friday: Week of 8/30/2013

Last weekend, Dan had all sorts of things going on. I, on the other hand, had absolutely nothing going on. Cut to me, sitting at home on a Saturday night with nothing to do and no one to answer to. What is a girl to do?

Cozy up on the couch and start a marathon of all the horrible, girly movies that I would never make Dan suffer through.

After combing through the archives of Amazon Prime and only coming up with the terrible movie, "Abduction", starring Taylor Lautner, I took it in completely the opposite direction.

X Files marathon, starting all the way back in good old 1993.

Image Source
I can't say I ever really got into the X Files when it was airing. After it had ended, I watched many episodes on reruns, but the arching stories never really took root because they were never in order.

So, last Saturday, I started at Season 1, Episode 0. It's utterly amazing how dated it looks now. Not the sci-fi elements, but the clothes and the technology. In one episode, there was a fire and all their evidence burned and I kept thinking to myself, "Why didn't you email it to yourself?!" Ahh, early nineties. And the power suits Scully wears. Talk about the actual monster of the week.

I'm making slow progress, only about half of season 1 down. However, with over 175 more to go, I should be able to fill some TV time until the new fall seasons of shows still on the air start back up.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Project House Update: Ugh, Fireplaces

Do you ever have one of those weekends where you get a lot of little things done, but nothing really major? Yep, got a lot of little things done, but nothing too substantial.

Dan and I have been coming up with a list of random little projects that I can handle on my own. I seem to have an excess of time on my hands lately and it's nice to contribute to our house, especially since Dan does so much on his own. One of these little projects was painting the fireplace in our bedroom.

This is what it looked like before:

When we first painted the room, we didn't paint the fireplace because we planned on tiling it. We didn't want to add a coat of paint which may make the tile harder to adhere. Over time, however, we changed our minds. We no longer were feeling the tile. Building up something like this became more of our goal.

corner fireplace
Image Source
On our list of projects, though, it was quite near the bottom. Until we got around to building it, though, we still had a tan fireplace that stood out in the room. 

So, with two hours over two days, I did this:

No more bad tile and stand-out tan paint. Definitely not my best paint job, but it's good enough until we can get back to it.

Also, please ignore the poor placement of the chair. It's just living there until furniture can go back into the living room.

Speaking of the living room, we did make some progress there, too. 

Two tiles are up! The most glorious, panic-inducing tiles you ever did see. Dan and I have survived senior design projects, planning a wedding, buying a house, and all sorts of other stressful situations, but I don't think we've ever openly panicked over anything like this before. There's a reason there are only two up. It was just too stressful. We need to take some time, come up with a plan, and hopefully make another attack next weekend.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just a Hunka-hunka Burnin' Cardboard

If you haven't clicked my "About Me" tab before, well, why haven't you?!?!?! Why?! Now I'm all insecure...

Anyway, if you haven't clicked it before, you haven't seen a half dozen pictures of me posing with animal statues. Man, I love me some animal statues.

You know what I love almost as much? Elvis cut-outs. Much more rare, therefore, more exciting, yet harder to pose with.

I promised it to you a couple of weeks ago, so here it is! Me with Elvis.

Yeah, on a completely unrelated topic, I've got writer's block, so if anyone has anything they'd like to read about, let me know below!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Project House Update: The Floor is Naked

In a weird change of pace, we're actually getting stuff done!

When we last left our fireplace, we'd poured the self-leveling cement for the tile hearth. Our next steps were to:
  1. Remove the carpet in front of the fireplace
  2. Tile the front of the hearth
  3. Tile the top of the hearth
  4. Tile the fireplace itself
  5. Build a mantle
So, Dan began by tearing out some carpet. First, he pulled the carpet back. With a chisel and a hammer, he began pulling out the nails that held the tack strips to the foundation in front of the fireplace. Look at that determination on his face!

And once he got going, he just didn't stop. He just worked his way around the whole room. In under an hour, he'd managed to remove the tack strips from the whole room.


And just so you don't think I'm completely useless, while he was removing tack strips, I was emptying the room. Not the big pieces like the sofas, mind you, but everything else. Into the dining room and covered with a drop cloth. The cats absolutely love it.


Once the room was empty and the tack strips gone, Dan sliced the carpet with a box cutter into 4 pieces and I carted them off. 


With the carpet and the padding out, the really dirty stuff began. Most people know that building a house with tile bordered rooms is a terrible idea. I really wish I could got back to 1983 and tell that to the people who built our house.

About half of the tiles came out pretty easily with just a hammer and chisel. The other half and some mortar required the air chisel.


The air chisel is great. It makes tearing up tile go so fast. The only downside is that there is dust on everything. No matter how well you seal the room up, it gets everywhere. There was somehow a layer of it on the coffee table in the next room, even with all the doors closed. We spent more time vacuuming than we did chiseling tile.

After about five hours of work, we were rewarded with this. A beautiful, smooth concrete floor. A clean slate for the home stretch of this room remodel.

So, it wasn't exactly what we were intending to do. We really only meant to remove a couple of inches that would have interfered with our tiling. Oh well. The crappy floor needed to go!

From now on, we're working our way up the fireplace until it's finished. Although, we probably should start thinking about flooring sooner than later.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fan of Friday: Week of 8/16/2013

You've read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, right? I mean, who hasn't? Heart-warming young adult novel about girls and their summer. Great book, except for the unfathomable idea that not only is there a perfect pair of jeans, but they are the perfect pair for four different girls.

Well, I've found those jeans. That's right, the mystical, magical perfect pair of jeans.

Karaoke Songstress Jeans by Judy Blue.

Mini review time!

Recently, on Modcloth, I was eying a cat blouse (because why wouldn't I?) and knew if I rounded the shopping cart up to $50, I'd get free shipping. After looking at a few different items, I came across these jeans.

I've never seen a product on Modcloth have such high reviews. Apparently, these pants are made with magic. I was hesitant, especially since they cost $49.99, but I am still testing the hypothesis that you get what you pay for. Once they arrived, I was so scared to try them on that they sat for days. What if I was the exception to the perfect pair of pants?

Clearly, I am not because I make these look good! (Diva moment, moving on...)

Yes, they are more expensive than the $20 jean I buy from Old Navy, but the quality is great. The denim is dark and thick (almost too thick, it is August so I'm roasting).

I can't believe I'm going to confess this to the internet, but I have a condition. It's called CPB, chronic plumber butt. My hips can't support pants properly and my butt likes to make an appearance. Not with these. The cut hits me right at the navel and does not budge. The top half inch folds over when I stand up from sitting, but it's nothing compared to worrying about accidentally half mooning your coworkers when adjuring a meeting.

Also, my second worst condition: MMT. Malignant Muffin Top. But not with these pants! I don't care what Clinton Kelly or Tim Gunn says, sometimes, even if your pants are 100% the correct size, you will have muffin top. At least I do because my pants have to attach themselves to my body somehow, right? So, maybe they don't eliminate it entirely, but it is at the most minimum I've ever seen it.

Anyway, I'm not kidding when I say I will probably only be buying these pants from here on out. I'm a convert.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Dream Closet

True story. I had been trying to follow Apartment Therapy's Style Cure, which is where you take the month of August, work a little every day, and, by the end of it, you've got a made over room.

I was all gung-ho about making over my closet so I'll finally have my dream closet.

I got about two days into it and realized that I do not have the time or money to try to fix that thing up right now.

However, I DO have the time and money to create my dream closet mood board!

Dream Closet

Isn't it so classy and gorgeous? Now, imagine you've torn out the cheap mirror slider doors into it and replaced it with some french double doors. I think my heart just skipped a beat.

We'll get there, one day. It's the one room in the house that Dan is allowed no input. If he gets the garage, I get this. All mine.

On a weird sidenote, I love the champagne color because it's almost the color of my skin, so I could just hold up pieces to see how they would look against my skin.



Monday, August 12, 2013

Project House Update: Ahhh! Cement!

Apparently documenting our progress (or lack there of) worked as I hoped and lit a fire under Dan. So, we have progress!

We left off after Dan had removed the existing tiles from the fireplace.

The next step? Pouring some self leveling cement to create a level and smooth surface to tile. In order to pour the cement we needed to fashion a dam. Since we idolize MacGyver and are cheap, we decided to make one out of duct tape and cardboard. First, a layer of duct tape to follow the curve, followed by a strengthening layer of cardboard, reinforced with some weights and rocks. And of course, the cats were very helpful.

With our damn in place, we herded the cats out of the room, mixed up the bag of self-leveling cement in two batches, and pouring and panicking.

After letting it cure overnight, we removed the dam and examined our work. A nice, level surface as a base for our tiles!

We had a few leaks, but nothing too bad. That being said, I wouldn't do our duct tape and cardboard method if you like your carpet.

Another step down in complete this beast. As I see it, we've probably got another five steps ahead of us. 
  1. Cut away the carpet adjacent to the fireplace
  2. Tile up the rim of the base
  3. Lay the tile on the top of the base
  4. Tile the front surface
  5. Build the mantle

Whew, this is still going to take for ever...

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Purse Dilemma: Help Me Choose!

Seriously, this post is ALL about the feedback, so if you have any sort of opinion, please let me know below!

As a reward to myself for sticking to my workout regime so well lately (4 weeks straight!), I'm purchasing a purse. As a recovering purse addict, I do have plenty, but my daily carry-all is starting to wear out. The clasp is broken and the fake leather is separating, but what do you expect of a Target purse from two years ago.

After doing a lot of hunting, I've narrowed it down to these two by Fossil.

Top: Sydney Satchel  Bottom: Memoir Novel Flap
I love them both for different reasons.

I love the shape of the green one and the color. I love that you can remove the strap and make it a tote. I love that I could fill it up with all sorts of stuff. I love the metal feet so you can set it down without worrying that it will get gross from the floor. However, I'm afraid that because it's kind of wide, it won't lay well on my body and I'll constantly be running into stuff with it. And that it won't go with some of my clothes.

I love the style of the brown one. I love that it's casual and professional at the same time. I love the lines of it and how it would lay against me. However, it's kind of boring. That and the strap isn't removable.

So, I'm stuck. Like, I've been debating between these two purses for almost a week now. My heart says go with the green one, but my brain says go with the brown.

Let me know what you think because, odds are, I won't be making up my mind any time soon...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hunting Antiques

The first Sunday of every month, a local elementary school hosts an antiques fair. {Sidenote: did you know these types of sales are called 'car boot sales' in Britain?} Once a month, the whole soccer field fills with cars and tents and the cafeteria is brimming with jewelry booths.

Even though it's usually miserably hot and dusty in the summer months, it's less crowded and much easier to get an amazing deal.

Like this absolutely perfect unicorn mirror I found for my sister. Haggled down to six dollars! Holla!

We've found some amazing pieces there in the past. Most of them have yet to be hung up because, as you know, the house is always in a state of disrepair, but I'll point them out as they go up. We've scavenged and collected maps, mirrors, a chest we use as a coffee table, Christmas ornaments, and a lot of old, but working, tools for Dan.

And most importantly, I found this.

If I had an inkling that Dan would have let me keep him, I would have snatched him up. I LOVE Elvis cut-outs, but that's a post for another day...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Project House Update: Prepping the Fireplace

In case you were wondering, it's been over four months (FOUR MONTHS?!?!?) since we decided to redo our formal living room/future play room/front room/whatever fireplace. I really didn't realize that it had been that long until I searched through the blog to find the last post. That's just sad. Granted, a lot has gotten done on other little things in that time, but a third of a year without progress. We're never going to finish our list at this rate...

...which is why I'm writing this update, to hopefully relight the fire under Dan's butt so we can finish this thing.

Anyway, here's where we left things.

The first step we needed to make was to remove the old tile. It's hard to see in this picture, but the base of the fireplace is covered with Mexican terra cotta tiles. Those tiles, plus the decorative ones around the opening and the rim of the base needed to go so that we would have a smooth, level surface to place our new ones. {Sidenote: the tiles on the mantle will stay because they will be covered up with wood.}

So what did we do? We moved all the furniture out that we had just moved back in. Yay. Then, you let a guy go wild with an air power chisel and sander. You end up with this:

Dan was concerned that the painted texture would not be a secure base for tiling up the fireplace. After attacking it with a sander and discovering how well it was stuck, he decided it should be a satisfactory base and wouldn't waste his time.

What wasn't a good base, however, was the areas where the tiles had been removed. The cement and mortar just isn't level enough to tile upon. To solve the problem on the vertical face, Dan got some quick setting thin set and smoothed out the area.

It may not be perfect, but it will be a solid base for our tiny tiles.

The bigger problem seems to be the base. For a level base, we need to use self-leveling cement. However, to do that, we need to construct a dam around the edge so it doesn't spill out onto the floor. Building a temporary dam around a curve base is turning out to be a pain. We've never worked with level set so we really don't know how secure and tight this dam needs to be.

Right now, I've got a half-cemented fireplace, a thick level of dust over most of the room plus the entry way and the dining room, and a husband who is starting to doubt our agreed upon design with the marble subway tiles. No wonder we're making virtually no progress.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Upgrading to Real Walls

Recently at work, my coworkers and I found out that we're being kicked out of our space. A good portion of my department, including myself, have cubicles in a large open area. It's great for having impromptu meetings and generally just functioning as a team.

However, with the lab next door needing to expand and an abundance of empty offices, we are being moved into our own individual offices. In my whole career experience, which I guess really only spans six years and four places of employment, I've never had my own office office.

The move will have a lot of downsides. We'll be losing our conference room and work tables and have to go through the official channels to reserve rooms now. We'll no longer have an excess of storage space for the random prototypes and returned broken parts, so we'll probably have to make more space in our already overcrowded, disorganized, disaster of a lab. I won't be able to grab someone as they walk past to ask them a quick question.

On the other hand, there will be two MAJOR pros. Firstly, privacy. Ahh, privacy, how I miss you. I cannot wait for the first conference call that I can take on speaker phone. Honestly, I don't contribute much on most calls, so smushing a phone to my face for an hour for no real reason is a huge annoyance. The ability to have the radio on without earbuds. Being able to close my door if I need to really hammer down and get something done without interruption. The option to change clothes in my office, if I needed to for some reason (trying to change in a public restroom is the worst). Taking personal calls without feeling like everybody knows my business.

Secondly, I'll be able to have a space that's all my own. It's just so hard to make a cubicle have any sort of personality. I'll be able to turn it into what I want it to be. Hang frames on the walls. Have cute desk accessories. It will be my space and I'll be able to make it function most efficiently for me.

The big move probably won't be for another couple of weeks, but I've already begun trying to find inspiration. I know I would like to bring in a big, comfy chair for 'guests', hang some art on the walls, maybe add a lamp.

Here's my pinterest board of the things I've been collecting so far {Sidenote: I should really set a budget for myself because this could get crazy} and here are some of my favorites so far...

Any other ideas/suggestions/demands for my amazing new future office? Any tips on what NOT to do decor wise with an office? My dad says the chair is a bad idea because people will never leave, but that's ok with me. Friends would be nice.