Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Beds and boxes and books. Oh my!

For the past month of living in this new house, I've been sleeping in a room surrounded by boxes and boxes of books. I honestly don't know how I've been able to sleep at all. Last night, all my Craigslist browsing finally paid off. I found a second bookshelf. And it's a big one. 

The kind folks I bought it from even offered to haul it to my house for me, once it became apparent that my Camry was no match for the job. She even recruited her teenage children to do all the heavy lifting. Or all the heavy lifting up to the point of getting it to my carport for cleaning. 

I scrubbed it good. It could probably use a fresh coat of paint, but I've been told the neighborhood alley cat has a propensity for spraying anything left outside. And yes, I mean anything. The warnings have been so strong, I'd worry about taking a nap in the yard for fear of what this cat might do. 

With that in mind, I didn't want to leave it outside unattended for any length of time. Not even to let paint dry. Somehow, I managed to pivot and slide and heave the sucker up my back porch and across the house into the bedroom, all by myself.  

Then I spent the rest of the night unpacking 7 or 8 or 9 boxes of books. Nothing but books. Oh my. I have more books than I thought I did. I don't know where they all lived before, because they certainly couldn't have all fit on the only other bookshelf that I own. 

There are still plenty of boxes to be unpacked, but the books have finally been put to bed. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Escaping the 80's: a cry for help

Are y'all up for helping me out with something here?

Clearly this is in no way an interior design blog. But I have a home decor dilemma. My tiny house has a very dated kitchen. Need proof? Here it is:

I know the 80's look is so the thing right now. But I still maintain some fashions should never return. Never. And this kitchen is one of them.

I knew from the first day I looked at the place that those kitchen cabinets were so not okay with me. But obviously not hideous enough to rule out living here for an extended period of time. So I began searching for a way that I could transform them.

I eventually landed on the idea of vinyl wall decals. Which are nice in that they aren't terribly expensive and they aren't permanent, so they are great for a rental in which you can't make drastic alterations.

I landed on some gold and silver triangle decals to help tie in some other gold accents going on in other places in the house. I also thought it would be subtle enough to make the cabinets look more updated without drawing too much unneeded attention their way.

So last week, I finally got around to taping some of the decals up to figure out a design I liked. I started with the upper cabinets. After a bit of sketching things out and calculating needs, I decided to take the ruler, the tape, and the decals and wing it.

This is where I landed (please ignore the counter mess, I have been working on this project in between batches of jam):

I finally got around to the lower cabinets last night. But now I'm wondering if it's all a bit too busy.

Tell me what you think. I really do want to hear your ideas for this place. Unless of course you love the white 80's cabinets. If that's the case, we can no longer be friends.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Weekend List

Today is one of those days that I wished I was a coffee drinker. I am tired. Tired in a it's Monday morning coming out of a full, FULL, weekend.

Friday was for working and cycle pub driving and barbecues with neighbors and making jam until midnight, just because it was on my list of things to accomplish for the day. (And yes, I realize, that at some point I just need to throw the list out the window. But . . .) 

Saturday was an early riser to road trip with my sister. We went to Western Oregon University's graduation to see a dear friend walk across the stage. We are so proud of Miss Victoria. 

 We had a fun afternoon together. Playing with our nephew and visiting with good friends.

Sunday was a long day. I spent 6 1/2 hours working in the yard. My old neighborhood is full of wonderful gardeners, and they all decided to gift me with a "free" garden. (My grandpa says it isn't really free because I had to do so much work.) It was a lot of work to get everything transplanted and in the ground before dark. But I did it. And it was satisfying work indeed. A neighbor even stopped by to tell me how impressed she was with my quick work. Hopefully, the next time she stops by we'll be able to enjoy a glass of ice tea with a sprig of mint and enjoy the view.

Daisies and mint, lemon balm and kale, sunflowers and parsley. Giant parsley.

This picture is deceptive. It's huge. And that's after I cut it back.  

I might be the most excited about this gem. 

What is it? You ask. 3rd Street rhubarb. The root is planted awaiting my very own rhubarb. But until then, I've got some fresh cut stocks ready to whip up some strawberry rhubarb jam. Just one more thing to add to my list of tasks to accomplish tonight. 

There is so so much more that was also planted, but I can't remember what. I did get a few seeds, a gift from Mountain Ma, in the ground as well. Cross your fingers that I'll be able to keep all of these wonderful plants alive. 

There were many, many other things on my weekend to-do list that were not accomplished. Clean car. Unpack books. Send Father's Day gift to Dad. Just to name a few. What was on your list this weekend? 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Ups and Downs of Moving

Moving into a new place always has its downsides. And my new place is no different. Like the garbage day truck that takes 15 minutes backing up to haul off the dumpster across the street. If you know me in person, you know that 15 minutes of repetitive beeping is enough to make me want to pull my hair out. It's nails on a chalkboard to me people. And yet it's something I imagine I'll have to learn to live with once a week at least for the duration of my lease.

And then there's the other not so pleasant things about moving. Like finding a 5 inch gap in the baseboard beside the dishwasher. And then having to pull on gloves to retrieve all of the lost items, all the while praying I don't pull out a rodent, or any other creature, dead or alive. 

I didn't find any creature, only unknown items. Was that hollow spherical thing an orange at one point? It takes a Google search to determine that the Black & Decker Gizmo was someones lost can opener that I have now sent off to the landfill in that giant truck that beeps incessantly every Tuesday morning. 

For all the down sides of moving though, there are some good things about a move. Especially a move after all your belongings have been in storage for 13 months. Going over a year without things makes you realize that maybe you don't need those things after all. I may have to have a yard sale after the move, rather than before. 

I've been unpacking and organizing sewing and craft items this week. It really wouldn't be a week-long task, but I have only had about an hour a day to work on things. I love a good organizational project, and this is one that needed to happen. I am one of those people that saves things thinking I'll use it one day. I'm obviously not a huge hoarder in that my house is basically empty. But I do keep sentimental items, or items I think I can use again in a new way. 

Case in point, I have had a picture frame boxed up since 2007 because it was a good frame, even if I was no longer a fan of the print that went in it. I recently got a new scripture print that I thought would go well in the frame, except for the white mat had a pink edge, and that wasn't really the look I was going for. 

So as I was unpacking this week, I found my white paint and a foam brush and painted that pink strip white, and now the frame is just waiting for a place to hang. 

As I unpack these half baked projects, I've actually been finishing them. And that, my friends, is a very good thing. They are generally quick and easy projects, ones I should have completed years ago and never did. Like this 10 minute project. 

I once broke a pretty blue wine glass that looked like this:  

The stem was completely intact, but the top was uneven. I thought with a little bit of work, I could even off the top and add a plate and create a nice little decorative stand. But that broken glass has been packed in a box for longer than I want to admit. (Longer than I even remember.) Until this week, when I finally took a hammer and gently chipped down the sides to make them even. Plugged in the hot glue gun and attached the small tea saucer I have been saving with the broken glass. Check it out: 

Moving certainly has its downsides and its unexpected sides. But I really like the sense of accomplishment that unpacking and finishing projects is currently giving me. Even pulling all of that junk out from underneath the cabinets was satisfying in its own way. I'm just really glad I didn't find anything worse than petrified fruit and a fake spider encased in a rubber ball. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On Portraits & Presidents

I told y'all that gypsy life was in no way stopping just because I moved, right? I am currently splitting my time between unpacking my home and house sitting in my old neighborhood. It's been a wild week.

Thankfully Psycho Kitten and Griffin are being unusually cooperative. There may have been one or two nights of racing around the house at odd hours, but so far neither of them have given me a heart attack by creeping into my room while I sleep. I think they're getting used to me.

I still don't have internet set up at the new house, which is awesome for getting stuff accomplished. It eliminates all sorts of things I would normally be doing in the evening hours. Oh, you mean I can't virtually couch shop without an internet connection? Well, I guess I'll unpack more boxes. And so I am making progress. But it also means I can't update this little corner of the web either. It's a trade off.

But I did want to tell you about one project that I managed to check off my list last week. It may be my favorite thing about this new place so far. It brings out the total and complete geek in me. My living room my not have a sofa or any thing on which to sit yet, but I hung a portrait on the wall.

Many towns have streets named for former presidents. And this mountain town is no different. And since I was moving to one of those streets, I took a little inspiration from my favorite magazine. (Have you read Garden & Gun? I love it. And if you don't know what I want for my b-day, I have two words for you: Subscription, please.)  Here's the photo from G&G's article "Inside Beautiful Botherum" by M.K. Quilan (October 17, 2013):

Photo by Caroline Allison from Garden & Gun magazine

The photo sparked the plan. And I began scouring thrift stores and Goodwill for the perfect frame. The tiny house doesn't have a fireplace or a mantel over which to hang the portrait, but I liked the gold accents. And I thought I'd add my own twist with an oval or round frame. Eventually I found something a little more unique. And after I got the keys, I ordered the print and cut the mat so it'd be ready to hang. 

Here's the first thing to be hung on the walls of my new home: 

Now I know you all are gonna say "there's a reason people hang portrait of Lincoln everywhere." Believe me, I know. His bust hovers over my shoulder every day at the office. Not even joking here people:

I get Lincoln is everyone's favorite. And I can guess you have no idea which president is hanging on my wall. But in my opinion, Mr. Taft may be the most underrated president. He's often only remembered for his size. He was a big guy, at least by early 1900s standards.

But did you know he was the only president to serve in both the executive and the judicial branches of government? The only one. Many others have served in Congress, of course, but Taft was appointed Chief Justice of the United States by President Harding. 

In addition to being president and Chief Justice, Taft was also an activist for peace. He helped form the League to Enforce Peace during World War I, which was a precursor to the League of Nations.

And if that doesn't do it for you, he was the last president to rock facial hair. Come on all you hipsters with your beards and handle-bar mustaches, Taft should be your favorite, or at least in the running! 

Can y'all tell I did my elementary school president report on Taft? 

Also, it is becoming apparent to me that 5 1/2 years working in the legal field is bringing out a hidden interest in Chief Justices. Here's a photo I snapped on vacation a few months ago: 

If you're beginning to think I don't give the 16th president his due, I did drive something like 20 miles out-of-the-way to visit his "supposed" birthplace in Kentucky. If that isn't enough, this was actually the second time I stopped at this place and took a picture with the cabin that was not actually the one he was born in as advertised.

Lincoln, despite the false advertisement, you're still a pretty radical dude. I just like a few other guys too. And right now, Taft rules!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Gypsy Life Update

I've been waiting to post this for about a month now. How does a gypsy admit that she's taking a little hiatus from living out of the trunk of her car? Does this mean she is no longer a gypsy? Or does she maintain her title, even though she has a permanent (and I say that loosely because nothing in this life is ever permanent) place to lay her head and shelves to surround herself with books?

My last living arrangement was always temporary. A six month deal. That deal ended May 31. I started looking early. This mountain town, Bend, has a particularly small number of rental vacancies. Due in no small part to the housing collapse that flooded the rental market over the last 5  years, and then you have the tourist industry, that with housing prices so low the last couple of years, nearly every available house was bought up by investors looking to create vacation rentals. All that creates a less than 1% rental vacancy for long-term rentals. It's crazy, y'all.

And as you would guess, because the rental market is so tight, prices have shot up in just the past year alone. Now granted, we have much better rates here than many other parts of the country. But let me give you a little perspective, do you remember that little studio I moved out of last year? Someone built townhouses around the corner from there that are now renting for 4 times what that studio cost when I moved into it 5 years ago. Let's just say, I was more than a little worried that I wouldn't be able to find a place, much less afford one when if I did.

Here's where it pays to build a solid relationship with others, so that when it's time to take a break from gypsy life, you aren't left living under a bridge. I contacted my old property manager to find out if she had anything coming open. It just so happens that she did, and it was owned by the same person who owned that little studio. I trusted the property manager and scheduled a viewing. I was a little nervous about the location as it wasn't in the radar of places around town I'd thought to look. But I brought Mountain Ma and Pa along to help me. And it turns out that property manager was right. I did love the place. So I submitted my application (which was really sort of a formality since I already had a long-standing relationship with the property management company and the owner). And I got approved for the place all before the house had a chance to even go on the market.

So last week, I signed a year long lease (gulp). And moved all of my wordly belongings into a little tiny house with just a few trips in my poor Camry, who hit 229k miles just over a week ago. That sweet car has a heart of gold. I abuse her so much, and she rarely fails me. I also had the help of a few kind-hearted and generous friends. I couldn't have done the move without them.

I am still unpacking. I have boxes and boxes to go. It's been so strange to find things that I haven't seen in over 13 months. I finally did unpack a few (of the 12) boxes of books, just to get a little color in my living room. If you read at all, you will understand the joy I felt as I placed those books on the shelf. It was almost like seeing a good friend after a long separation. But books can't give big bear hugs, and that definitely makes a reunion with friends 100 times better than a reunion with books.