Saturday, November 2, 2013

I Like November

November is my second favorite month (June is my first--go figure). The weather is perfect (assuming you live in central Florida), you get a full 30 days between the silliness of Halloween and the drama of December, and everybody starts thinking about gratitude.

At my Thanksgiving dinner, we go around the table (or room depending on how many folks you're feeding) and each take a turn saying something for which we are most thankful. I wish we did this all year.

I even like those daily facebook posts in November, you know the ones where a friend writes something he or she is grateful for.

November is usually my busiest travel month so I don't spend much time at home. This November I was supposed to be away on three trips, but one was canceled. I'm not entirely grateful for that, but I'm thankful to spend some more time at home. 

To mark November and my love of Fall (short as it is), I am going to cook something special everyday. It's a loose goal, especially for the week planned in a Texas Hilton, but it's off to a good start.

Work space...always planning.

These are the real work spaces.
In October I spent a weekend with my bff, spiritual mentor, and someone who shares my love of cooking. I came home with so many great ideas and need for new ingredients, especially harissa and cajeta (goat's milk caramel). Admittedly, my cajeta addiction has gotten a little out of control.

Red Chard - best recipe in the WORLD comes from Rachel Ray. I can't stop eating this.

Bok choy in harissa (of course).

Annual Christmas pickles I make every year for gifts. Adding a radish makes the brine turn pink.

Oh yeah---since it's already Nov. 2nd, I should tell you yesterday I made Big Daddy Jay's Collards (it would a shame to die without eating these collards) and caramel chicken from Bon Appetit. These are all my pics, except for the chicken, but it looked the same. You have to be quick with the camera around here!

Big Daddy Jay's Collards - half  of these get canned for Christmas dinner.

BA's Caramel Chicken--should be called Asian chicken. If you make it, use coconut oil instead of veg.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Furniture Facelift

A couple of things happen after you spend all your money rehabbing and furnishing your house---for me mostly it involves staring at the pile of leftover wood and paint and wondering how to make accent pieces.

This library table has been in my family for years, kind of like Gus--who consequently had been using it as his desk for quite some time. However, now that my mother has an iPad (as she keeps reminding us) and no longer needs a desk, Gus took her desk and schlepped the table off to me. If there's one piece of furniture I don't need it's a table, but I couldn't disregard the sentimental family history and agreed to bring it home.

There really were no decent 'Before" pictures so I borrowed this one...

Library Table

A little white paint and frog tape...

 And voila!

Before you roll your eyes at the idea of painting wood, keep in mind this table was not mahogany (like the before pic) and was in major need of refinishing. It's also extremely easy to sand so I don't feel guilty about taking away the character of the wood. It goes better in my dining room now and that's all that matters.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Why Not?

In the middle of this summer of debauchery, travel, weeks of house guests, major new projects, and nearly depleted bank accounts, I decided to buy living room furniture...because, why not?

The only new piece of furniture I ever purchased was a $600 dresser to match an existing bedroom set and had to be lugged up 47 stairs in a narrow, concrete staircase to my Kalihi Valley cliff house. It sat in a spare bedroom that rarely saw company. When I left Hawaii it stayed in that bedroom, or maybe I sold it on Craigslist. Furniture was the last thing on my mind. 

Like most people that time travel out of Hawaii to the Holocene Epoch, I was enamored with Ikea. A small moving stipend and cheap, unassembled Swedish particle board actually managed to furnish all of Harbor Farm (not to mention the kitchen countertops).

But Trading Up has space. Like real space. And while the dining room serves as Grand Central for dinner, drinks, and late night card games, it's time to use the rest of the house. The living room is so underused this was the only picture I could even find of anyone in it.

Denise lounging post knee surgery.

Denise recovered just fine. I can't say the same for that couch, which in Ikea's defense came from Craigslist.

I tried to find him a new home, but unfortunately, even Craigslist thought it was too good for it. This is the last time I saw it.

But I'm happy the old boy isn't around to see his replacements ;-)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Master Bath Part III

Finally done! In retrospect, I can't figure out why it took so all seems so simple in pictures.

For backstory and more 'Before' pics, check out Master Bath Part I and Master Bath Part II.

Shower Trim - Before & After
Shower Trim - Before & After
Despite all the work there was considerable damage left on the wall behind the old vanity. I used cheep and simple Wainscoat from HD to cover the damaged areas. To me, Wainscoat says early-American design (not my taste), but it seems to work in here.

White Wainscoat
The average height of a bathroom countertop is 31-inches. I failed to measure the original (hobbit) height, but I'm sure it was much less. Unfortunately, I may have gotten a little overzealous with the replacement. At a towering 43-inches to the top of the sink, even my 5'7" self needed a step-stool just to brush my teeth.

But that is not a problem when you have one these on hand (the sawzall not the blow dryer).

It was worth the wait!

Decorating is always more fun!

Sponge soap from Tarpon Springs, FL

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Double Wide Blue

The paint color isn't for everyone. My boss in CO calls it "double wide blue". You really have to see it in context to appreciate. Fortunately, it's perfect for a central FL neighborhood on the water. And fortunately the color and yellow accents make even the crankiest neighbors smile :)

Before and After (I know I need to invest in a decent hedger)

Home insurance went up with the addition of the pool.

Little Hawi'iana accents

Carport converted into covered BBQ patio

Actual MATCHING chairs!

Come Visit!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

And Then There Was Paint

I want to get these thoughts down before I forget. Before I'm home in my adorable, blue almost-a-beach house in central FL. Before I forget this I have lived in that same house for 3 months waiting for it to be painted and it finally is painted and I'm 2,000 miles away moment. 

Thanks to the painters and a friendly neighbor, I can see my house. My blue house. Of course I can't see the detail and whether or not the painters actually did a decent job, but I know it looks better than a it did 72 hours ago. And I just don't want to forget this combined moment of anticipation and frustration, when I knew it was blue, but couldn't see it for myself...and I am certain there is a life metaphor in here somewhere.

AM Progress

From the Front - Happy Independence Day!

PM Progress

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Great Outdoors

Trading Up has no backyard. A lot of front, but no backyard. Therefore, when you want to grill or party, or just sit outside and people watch, you're stuck in the carport. Also stuck in the carport are the bulky garbage and recycling bins, all of which makes outdoor entertaining a little cramped (and stinky). Gus thought it would be good (and cheap) idea to move the existing (albeit sad looking) fence back about 20-feet to open up the space and hide the bins.

Simple project. 2 hours max. And you can do it with beers!

Master Bath Part II

This was supposed to be the second and last part; I don't dare say only Part III remains because as this bathroom rehab rolls into month five, I am seriously considering renting a front loader to completely level this room. People can crap in a bucket. I'm over it.

Notice the Blue Tape? That means the sink still doesn't work. That is bad.

The weekend was kind of a bust. The tile work got finished and the cabinet cut, but we couldn't install the sink because either we are completely clueless or the manufacturer sent the wrong part. I'm going with the latter. We've started corresponding via email so perhaps he'll send the correct part and I can finish the work myself, or he'll say "Go fly a kite" and I'll be forced to leave terrible reviews about him all over the Internet. Then call the plumber.

Today I made a little more progress, sanded and painted the ceiling and finished staining the top of the vanity, but overall disappointed in progress.

Friday, May 17, 2013

And It Really Really Works

What do you know about grout color sealer? Well if you have tile you should really consider getting to know it because this stuff ROCKS! I don't get too excited about commercial products. If you don't need special training and a letter from Congress to order something, I generally tend to think of it as weak. 

This product has definitely changed that line of thinking. It's called NA 6700 Grout Rescue (which still sounds kind of contraband-ish). It's recommended for really dirty grout lines, but I was using it to match the old grout with the new tile work in the kitchen. For $10, I didn't pay much attention to the direction on the bottle, just sort of wiped it on till I got a good match.



Saturday, May 11, 2013

Master Bath Part I

The master bath hates me. We didn't get off on the right foot. When I first walked into Trading Up it was all 'oos' and 'aaas' until I saw the bathroom. At first I thought it had been designed for little kids (or dwarfs) because the ceiling was so low and the cabinetry was only 28-inches high---making the tub and toilet look miniature. From that first walk-though it was slated to receive more work than any other room. 

I don't think the bathroom ever got over my initial reaction to its diminutive features and decided to make my life as difficult as possible ever since [recall the flood(s), mold, and most recent mite infestation]. Either that or its haunted. 

Knowing I have its best interest in mind, it seems to slowly be forgiving my callous tongue. 

Before - Loo for Little People

Dropped ceiling contained old fluorescent light (already removed in this pic)

A little early morning demo

Ceiling completely removed

Crew hangs the new ceiling frame and can lights (notice the 9 extra inches!)

$75 Craigslist dresser to convert into new vanity

Vessel sink courtesy of Amazon