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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Gardens of Babylon: Salvage Edition.

While some people treated the weekend with a holy reverence (as, you know, people tend to do with religious holidays) we here at L'Casa decided that a three-day weekend meant really kind of one thing.


Especially since the weather seems to have finally decided it is, indeed, Spring. And we have approximately 7.4 seconds until it becomes the unbearable oppressiveness that is Summer, so we have to get it in as much as possible while still doing a good job of it.

There was a lot of division of labor, with Kyle taking on one project and I a couple of others while the kids played with their new (P)Easter garden gloves in the raised bed, occasionally putting them on to "help" with the stuff the grownups were doing.

Anyway. So remember last summer, when I shared a little nugget of wonder discovered in the ghettohood?

Beautiful, right? It was outside of a restored church, just waiting to be loved for what it is -- a paint-coated 100+ year old solid wood door. I mean sure, it's seen better days, but doors like this at salvage places go for a pretty penny.

One person's trash, yada yada.

Anyway, I started a project with this door, plus two from my own home (for whom doorways no longer exist and of course, each door is slightly different in size in my house so no doors are "swappable" if need be, ugh), plus another one I found not a week later just a little ways up the street, and a can of paint in the basement from the first incarnation of the front door.

So, please to remember, I started this with five-year-old paint a year ago, so super long before Radiant Orchid was Pantone's Color of The Year and therefore a thing.

I teased it on Instagram while I was working on it:

And just a few short hours later, I had this:
The Gardens of Babylon: Salvage Edition.
The beginnings of my very own gypsy boho hippie corner in my backyard.

It isn't finished yet -- I have designs on making a small canopy for it, plus it needs a couple more hinges for support and some stakes to really keep it in the ground -- not to mention making the ground around it into a rock garden and another coat of paint after spending all winter outside on the side of the house (the same goes for the bench) -- but now I have a unique, almost completely free little gypsy nook to sit in and watch my kids play in the backyard.

I'm pretty proud of it thus far, and I kind of can't wait to take some family photos with it hopefully soon.

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Upstairs Kids' Bedroom Closet Progress!

Oh my goodness it's been a minute since we've talked about actual construction stuff, so let's do that.

The progress on the kids' closet built-in has been mind-numbingly slow. Between moving the unit actually into the kids' closet (meaning our access to work on it is greatly diminished at the times when the kids aren't all up in our grills wanting to "help" bless them) and me actually starting an out-of-the-home job, time has been tight.

Also, the weather can't decide what it's doing.

But! Here's what it looks like right now! As in, I took these photos approximately 30 minutes ago!
The Upstairs Kids' Bedroom Closet Update.
The top shelving part is already painted and ready to go, yet the shelves themselves (the adjustable ones on each side that is) still need to be painted, as does the inside of the bottom part there.

Originally, I'd thought we'd just use a collection of trim to hide the ends of the PureBond Plywood we used to frame this whole thing, as well as to mask some of the gaps around where the drawers will go, but after standing in Home Depot for entirely too long one morning, I decided that simpler is better and we used veneer tape.
The Upstairs Kids' Bedroom Closet Update.
Sidenote: We don't own an iron. We had one once, and an ironing board, but we gave them away because at the time, we didn't really ever use them. Now, now we need both but never manage to procure them. So to attach this veneer tape, I had to use my embossing heat tool from when I made parts of our wedding invitations. And this project promptly overwhelmed my little ten dollar gadget and melted the whole front of it. I made do to finish what I set out to do, but you know, ingenuity turned tragedy.

RIP, heat embossing tool. You did good.

I obviously still need to paint all of those edges as well. Sigh.

Since the bottom drawer units are hacked Ikea Rast units I'd been hoarding in the basement, we had to adjust it a little bit to be able to have trim run flush along the bottom as a toe kick/baseboard:
The Upstairs Kids' Bedroom Closet Update.
Ikea measurements, man. They are always just a smidgen off from what you really need. But that's what shims are for.

So, hopefully this weekend I'll be able to get in there and paint EVEN MOAR THINGS which *sarcastic yay complete with jazz hands* and get this thing something close to functional, so we can begin to take some of the other things out of their room and you know, do something like finally get Tova a twin sized bed since she's practically falling out of her toddler bed every night as it is.

Oh, and for those of you who commented that you wanted to see what my house looked like unstaged? Well, here's a peek of what the rest of the kids' room looked like this morning:
The Upstairs Kids' Bedroom Closet Update.
The drawers don't stay there like that ... but the rest of the stuff ... well, you know.

I hope you all have a lovely (and warm!) holiday weekend!

We are being reimbursed for our use of PureBond products, however all opinions and viewpoints are strictly our own.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hang On Sloopy!

We interrupt our regularly-planned post for A GIFT FROM THE FOOTBALL GODS.

So I make it a habit to walk my front yard in the morning while Tova and I wait for her bus -- it's too dark still when Kiedis is waiting for his bus amid other reasons -- and I try to check out my plants and see what's going on.

I also check for trash/cigarette butts/chicken bones/other disgusting detritus from the neighbors to throw back into their yard, but that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, so I was checking out my lilac with the most developed blooms on it:

And right below the little half-moon bed I made for that plant, a weird dark brown thing with a tiny little green and pinky-purpley sprout was just hanging out, sticking halfway out of the ground, surrounded by grass.

Now, as you may recall, the front yard used to be two very large garden beds. So, to me, seeing something bulbous sprouting half-buried out there is less of a surprise than you might think. At this point, the first glance, it was just a mild curiosity, like hey, what's this suddenly surfacing.

So I bent over to pick it up, to see how rooted it was.

It popped right out. No roots. Hard, smooth, large, but definitely sprouting.

My first thought at what it may be I shook away because it felt crazy.

So I naturally did what any reasonable person would do -- I Instagrammed it and asked all the people I know on social media (a handful of whom are horticulture experts) what in the everloving name of Woody Hayes this may be.

The consensus was exactly in line with my first thought -- a buckeye.

Which, you know, Ohio is the Buckeye State.

However, there aren't any buckeye trees around here that I'm aware of -- I'm pretty sure I'd notice a whole crapton of these suckers on the sidewalks during my fall runs. But, according to a friend, these are a squirrel delicacy so maybe a squirrel traveled very far with a giant ass nut in his mouth only to leave his unmarked treat half buried in my yard.

Or maybe the college football gods descended upon my abode and graced me with this lucky sprouting buckeye to plant and grow and sing Hang On Sloopy to each night.

I've decided to name the nut Sloopy regardless.

I know I need to plant it, but I have to think about where to actually do that in a smart and attractive way for the emerging landscaping (and also so some jerk squirrel doesn't steal my lucky Sloopy for lunch) so right now I have it in some dirt in a pot by my herb wall so it hopefully keeps growing and becoming awesome.

This is a sign, you guys. A wonderful, unexpected, welcome scarlet and grey sign.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Gardens of Babylon, 2014 Edition.

The snow finally melted and the sun dared to come out, so that means it's time for the posts everyone loves to hate but it's my blog so I do what I want -- gardening stuff!

Today I'm going to focus on the backyard mostly because there isn't much going on in the front -- a little bit of mystery flowers starting to bloom that I'm sure I planted last year but have no recollection of what soooo I think I'm going to have to draw up some sort of landscape schematic as things appear so I can have a vague idea come fall if I want to plant more stuff or fill spaces in or whatever.

The lilacs appear to have survived, so there's that. Yay!


The Gardens of Babylon 2014 Edition.

Wait, what's that back there? Beyond the freshly planted pansies in your Ikea lace pot things?
The Gardens of Babylon 2014 Edition.
GASP. Isn't that where your beloved raised garden bed was?

Also, WTF happened to that wheelbarrow?
The Gardens of Babylon 2014 Edition.
I know, it's super sad. The handle snapped right off in the middle of this little afternoon project I'm about to show you. I feel like it's reparable if we bought some new 1x1s or something but hang tight on that, because I'm not actually confident it's that easy. We'll see.

Are you ready?

The Gardens of Babylon 2014 Edition.
We actually moved the raised beds over to the other side of the yard, into the full sunlight. The dogs had kind of obliterated any grass that was growing here anyway and by carefully taking apart the beds we had and reconstructing them (and luckily finding the extra parts from when we added the side-bed to the old corner spot hoarded away in the basement) we were able to completely change how we garden this year.

I know, the excitement, it's palpable.

Oh, and before I go on my tangent, remember this planter from the front of the house a couple of years ago that never got enough sun or something so everything in it died?
The Gardens of Babylon 2014 Edition.
Well, it fits between these two fence posts like magic and except for when I'm too lazy to move the kids' Cozy Coupe so there's not a shadow, it gets some great sun back here.

So I filled it with violas and we'll see what happens.
The Gardens of Babylon 2014 Edition.
So pretty. Yay!

Anyway, back to the garden bed. We moved over most of the dirt from where it was before, plus added some more garden dirt for good measure.

The Gardens of Babylon 2014 Edition.
My hope here is that I can actually now do a few rounds of planting throughout the season -- I've actually filled the two flanking beds with things like asparagus, potatoes, onions, carrots, and spinach with hopes of being able to do another crop of the like come late summer/early fall.

The Gardens of Babylon 2014 Edition.
Also, you can maybe tell I've had some little helpers. Sidebar -- holding on to that Little Mermaid sand castle building set from the Disney Store from high school graduation was one of the smartest things I've hoarded. The kids use it to garden and that means we spend more time outside together doing constructive play and it makes me happy. I was a smart teenager.

The middle bed will hopefully have things like zucchini and tomatoes and eggplant and broccoli and so on, but it's still a little early in the season here for those. 

Also, new herbs and some hopefully surviving strawberries!
The Gardens of Babylon 2014 Edition.
And we've had some great doses of rain so no watering anything yet. I'm excited.

We have mucho plans for the space where the garden beds used to be, as well as have made some pretty awesome progress inside on those rainy days that outside work was pointless.


I'm ready to make things beautiful again.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

On Warranties, The Housing Market Collapse, & Keeping All The Paperwork.

Notice anything strange about our front bay window?
On Warranties, The Housing Market Collapse, & Keeping All The Paperwork.
(Say hi to Tova. You'll see her again in a minute.)

Here's a closer look:
On Warranties, The Housing Market Collapse, & Keeping All The Paperwork.
Looks like I haven't cleaned it in forever, right? Or like some gross water splashed up on it from ... the front garden bed? ... and it never washed away.

Oh, if only we were so lucky.

The angle shot really shows you how bad this weird stuff was:
On Warranties, The Housing Market Collapse, & Keeping All The Paperwork.
We could actually only kind of see out the window at any given point in time--and really not at all if the sun were shining upon it or at night.

Also, since it's the front window of the bay windows in the front of the house and therefore arguably one of the most interesting structural details of L'Casa, this whole mess:
On Warranties, The Housing Market Collapse, & Keeping All The Paperwork.
(which in full disclosure squicked me out because I have trypophobia and even this picture I can't, I want to throw up ickickick) looked pretty darn awful.

Little did we know what it would entail to make it go away/fix it.

When we bought L'Casa, we were given a large folder with a whole bunch of estimates and some receipts from the company that redid the siding, the windows, and did most of the addition that is now our kitchen. Once the window had become covered with these spots -- which the Internet told me was a break in the gaseous seal between the two panes of glass, causing this weird/gross film to cover the inside, about which nothing could be done but to replace it -- we dug those papers out and combed through them.

And we were delighted to find that our windows had a 15-year warranty against failure from the manufacturer, which this classified as. And that we were still within that 15 year period. So we called the number of the contractor listed on the invoice for the window installation ... and found it disconnected.

Of course.

So through some dual research between Kyle and I, we tracked down the company that had bought out the company that our paperwork was from. And we discovered that they had merged with another company, and two of the phone numbers for that third company weren't correct.

Good thing the last one was -- and that this third company had a Facebook Page to provide that number.

Social media, it has it's uses people.

So we called, and we spent A LOT of time on the phone tracking down the files that came from two company mergers and verifying that not only our warranty was valid, but that the company that made the windows was still in business.

The housing market collapse was rough on the industry -- tons of companies shuttered due to lost revenue and lack of business. And we bought our house in 2007, right before it all happened.

In a lot of ways, I still feel like we were lucky. We may not have gotten the best price or interest rate on this house, but if life had continued on the way it did for our little family otherwise, I'm not sure that even now we'd be in a place to buy a house of our own.

Anyway -- of course, we did our own research to make sure that whoever we were dealing with now wasn't trying to pull a fast one on us, and sure enough, the window company was still going strong.

So the new company who had our old paperwork agreed to come out and take a look, and once that happened, they agreed to honor the warranty and replace the failed window pane.


Except that nearly six weeks went by on a job that was only supposed to take two and there was nothing from the new contractor company about anything -- no calls, no check ins, nothing.

So we called and left a couple of messages.

And nearly two weeks after that, we get a call saying that the window company sent the wrong thing to them and we had to wait on a new window to be sent by them. However, for the trouble there wouldn't be any extra installation fees or anything -- the whole job would be gratis.

Well, I guess I'll take it.

Nearly a month later, we finally had an appointment to get the top pane replaced.

And I'll be damned if all it took was popping the top pane out of the track and popping a new one in. Our windows are pretty decent and I was actually shocked that the whole thing -- for which we'd been juggling paperwork and playing phone tag about for months -- took less than fifteen minutes from start to finish.

Thank the home improvement gods.
On Warranties, The Housing Market Collapse, & Keeping All The Paperwork.
And now we can see out our front window clear as day ... and from the outside it doesn't look like we're the dirtiest people on our block.

(Told you you'd see Tova again. This girl loves looking out this window.)
On Warranties, The Housing Market Collapse, & Keeping All The Paperwork.
The thing we didn't realize was how much that film was actually obstructing light into the living room, so those few warm days earlier the month were all the much brighter and sunnier because we could actually see and feel the sun from our living room.

So, all in all, I'm glad we kept all of those papers ... and that I've been hoarding our own paperwork of changes and installations done here at L'Casa. Because you never know when just the smallest of things will end up being the key to a major repair.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dayton, As Seen From My Little Corner Of The Social Media Universe.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to run the Dayton Baton, which is a local, shared Instagram account meant to show how the "runner" sees Dayton. Since I live downtown and now work downtown, I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I was lucky, because my day was sunny and warm, perfect for literally running to some of my favorite spots in the DYT (though by no means all of them) and I had a plan to make sure the small amount of time I had in my schedule for this project could span the majority of the day that the Baton account was in my hands.

Now, I know this is a DIY/home improvement blog, but I wouldn't be who I am without being raised in and around Dayton, so you know, I think it counts.

Anyway, I was actually really happy with the photos I took, so I thought I'd share some of them here with you. All of them were taken with my slowly-dying Galaxy S3 (I'm holding out for the S5 to be released) and most were edited with the VSCOcam app.

You can click through to them to see what I had to say about the city I call home.

And then one of the local news stations covered the whole concept -- they show the person who ran it two days after me and then the people who ran it the day before me (guess they didn't want some purple-haired broad in their little segment) -- but if you want a better explanation of how this kind of thing works, give it a peep.

I actually had a blast showing the my little perspective of Dayton, and I highly encourage you to check out if your local city or area has some sort of Baton account on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

I promise to be back to house stuff on Thursday -- though my kids are on Spring Break while Kyle isn't until next week, so, you know, pray for me.