Friday, January 29, 2010

Yes, Virginia, There Is Another Project

But of course! When your 102-year-old grandmother tells you she wants to give you something, you don't say no (well, not more than two or three times). Despite all the doilies and china she has given me that are stashed away in the closet (at least I use the silver!), this time I said yes to something I will actually use! The table that held her turntable (and my board books in the drawers, way back when) will soon be holding our stereo (and probably guitar tuners in the drawers). However, it's a project (of course). We're going to call this part of #25 on the list (which involves basically "finishing" the living room to some degree of personal satisfaction).

What do you mean, "Annie take some damn Before pictures"? I like a nice During picture instead. The old finish is coming off, slowly and stickily, to reveal much lighter wood in some areas than others. I am hoping the sanding part of the process will even things out a little bit. The veneer on the sides is a little chipped but that is mostly on the bottom corners so I may just ignore it and go La La La instead. The top is solid and cleaned up well, but I am a little scared to start the sanding process. I am thinking of finishing it with some sort of wax because I really like the grain of the wood and wouldn't mind showing it off.

Here you can see the drawers, one with no finish and one still with gloopy finish and awesome pull. The pulls are brass or something, and definitely too cool to get rid of, so I have to figure out how to clean them and possibly put some kind of protective lacquer on them (as I seem to be removing whatever was left). Also, my wonky toes.

So far everything is going well (knock on wood) as long as I remember to keep the door to the garage open so I get a little ventilation in here. I know I should wait until summer and do it outside but I am doing it in short bursts so I don't kill too many brain cells. Next up... sanding! Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Opinion Time Again! (in which I can't make up my mind)

So the drapery rod in my office just came down. As in, one side just pulled itself out of the wall. It is currently dangling drunkenly and I am pretending to ignore it. And the curtains were one of my first-ever sewing projects so they are getting pretty limp and frayed by now. So I need some opinions. My office is basically chartreuse with tan (a.k.a. totally ignorable) carpeting and dark wood accents. You may remember it from most of my early decorating posts. This is still pretty accurate, only the art has changed.
The main points of interest are the art which is all very colorful and in black frames with white mats, and the futon, because it is covered by a gorgeous multicolored batik quilt made just for me by my mom. Now I need to suck it up and get some better curtains in here. So here are my current options:

I am terrified of pattern mixing. But I figure this has lots of white and the pattern is pretty mild-mannered. Also, these are on sale.

I am developing a deep love of orange in my old age. There is orange in the quilt, and in my little hanging lantern my sister brought back from Vietnam. And the plus here is these are so big, I only have to buy one curtain and cut it in half.

There are blinds underneath so they don't really need to cut the light, I just think the blinds are ugly so I'd rather distract from them a little bit. Also, privacy, as this room faces the street. And walking by houses where you can look straight in the front windows, while I find it entertaining (hi, I'm nosy), also creeps me out.

Your thoughts? I have more sales to scour, but so far these are the two leading contenders.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reviewing The Situation

Being sick leaves me with not much in the exciting blogging department. But it did give me time to catch up on some reading and movies, especially after figuring out that the new-to-us TV will talk to my computer now so we can watch the streaming Netflix movies whenever we want. That was a treat. Other than that, things have been pretty slow. So let's start with the books:

How The Irish Saved Civilization: slow to start, with the necessary Roman background, but compelling by the second section (when we finally get to Ireland). The author brings up some fascinating points, the basic premise being when the Roman empire was falling apart, Irish monks were transcribing the written treasures of Western culture. It's pretty interesting reading the Amazon reviews as the book gives Irish monks a lot of credit, but I will still call it a well-written and interesting read if you can get past the first section.

This reminded me how much I love mythology so I had to dig out one of my favorite children's books, The Hounds of the Morrigan. An awesome quest with a brother and sister through mythic Ireland, this book makes me want to be 10 again. Or read some more good Irish mythology. I am thinking I need to check out those Dark Is Rising books, on a similar note.

Then I hit one of my Christmas books - a very pretty reprint of Eleanor Perenyi's Green Thoughts. I have to say, it's a little depressing to read this when snow is still on the ground, but it did make me start on my garden To-Do list for the spring. It's a collection of her essays on everything from weeds to pruning to buying from garden catalogs. It's a little bit dated partially just because it's 30 years old and partially because her focus is on much more traditional gardening - I've hardly ever bought anything from a garden catalog and rarely if ever start anything from seed other than veggies as the growing season is so short here. But some of the stories she has are fantastic - growing standard rose trees and then in the winter having to bend them down to the ground and bury them so they will survive the bad weather. Does anybody do that kind of stuff any more? It is a great read, and a nice segue into my next book.

More Was Lost, also by Ms. Perenyi, but fully autobiographical. This reads like it should be a black-and-white movie, from her meeting the son of the snobby Hungarian baron, to her moving to his estate in then-Czechoslovakia and learning to speak Hungarian and interact with the locals. The people are wonderfully written and I definitely stayed up until midnight last night reading this one when I should have been sleeping. Now all I can do is hope that Hollywood doesn't make this one into a movie. I'll probably finish this one tonight so I will update if it suddenly veers into disappointment. But so far, I doubt it. I don't know if it gets all the way to her time in the U.S. and her tenures at Harper's Bazaar or Mademoiselle, but so far, so good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Huzzah! A Forgotten Update.

I did it! I got out of the old band without totally offending them. Well, most of them. They have been around for 20+ years with varying players so they have had personnel changes before but they were getting huffy so it was really nice to escape. Now I can focus on the other band and attempt this Pilates madness (see #14). We'll see if I survive. And now I can spend some cash on music for the other band...

Lovely sound clip stolen from these guys.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Give.

You win, world. I'm off to bed. Glarey screen is too bright for the headaches, anyways. Matt is off at a show and we have concert tickets tomorrow night too. Also it is snowing again. Maybe it will snow enough that I can just stay home for the next few days. They could close the school and I could have a snow day. That makes it sound nicer than a sick day. Also, there could be hot chocolate. And naps.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Hi all, I'm still around. I haven't been on le blog much because I am trying to figure out how to quit my band without pissing them all off. They are already cranky that I started another band but I am still frustrated with them. They don't want to play hard music and get paying gigs and I am tired of stagnating and playing boring stuff. But I like them all and don't want them to be mad when I know I will see them around town and probably be in other groups with them in the future (this is a small town).

Matt has the best suggestion so far. I am going to tell them I can't do it because I am signing up for a class. And them I am going to sign up for a class. My back has been bothering me recently and some friends have been pestering me to try Pilates (the mat kind, not the scary kind with machines that have names). So I am going to go for #14 on The List and try to see if I can survive a regular Pilates class. We'll see how long I last.

Picture from here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

10 Things I Like About My Home (next meme...)

1. The light in the bedroom. This is the only south-facing room with decent exposure and it gets the most wonderful light in the afternoons. This may or may not have had something to do with my painting it bright blue, but now I can never repaint because the light works so well with the blue.

2. The Laundry Room. It has room for a drying rack and wacky cupboards that are basically my pantry. Also, I repainted and hung some art in there. So it's pretty high on the awesome list.

3. The Sunken Living Room. Coolest Thing Ever. Now I just need a sunken bed like John had in Help!

4. Every room is now a different color. Yes, maybe I am excessively proud of that but I am such a fan. Living-dining area is different shades of tan, my office is chartreuse, the bedroom is teal, the front bathroom is a dark gray-blue and the back bathroom is another shade of tan (Matt's office I take no credit/blame for. His walls are covered in sound foam and guitars).

5. Guitars do look good on walls.

6. Wende is right, illogical layouts do add character. No modern tract home is going to be laid out like mine. I will take a late-60's one any day over a modern one, flat walls notwithstanding.

7. My yard. This has its pros and cons but there sure is plenty of room for my veggie boxes. And teepees full of beans. It's also much better now that 80% of the grass is gone (and has been replaced, it's not just a yard full of dead grass).

8. Dishwasher and garbage disposal. However much I complain about the rest of the kitchen, these are pluses. Also my awesome double oven. It is awesome.

9. I like the late-60's style. I totally would go Jetsons on this place if I had the budget, it's totally made for it. Except maybe not those plastic chairs everybody on AT loves. We have those at work and let me just say, FEH. But one of those white tulip-y tables would fit right in next to the purple couch.

10. It keeps me occupied. There are always projects to be done, and I like to think of them as ways to make this place more my own. So I am going to call this a plus. Also I needed one more and I am running out of ideas.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Help? Random Question Of The Day.

How much can you do to make shoes fit better? These are adorable but totally lack any arch support. The last pair of Clarks I ordered was the same - adorable but I sent them back due to lack of support. Can I get some sort of insoles put in? I tried just sticking in the regular insoles I use and there just wasn't enough room for them in the shoe. Is it worth trying something like these or can I actually take them to a cobbler or something?

I'd just return them but they are actually wide enough and exactly what I have been looking for in every other way. And the only other pairs of dress shoes I have are both black and between 2-4 years old. So I need something. Does anyone have tips for making almost-perfect shoes fit just right? I could sure use 'em, especially since "just buy other shoes" hasn't been working out so far.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

10 Things I Like About Reno (sorry Wende, better late than never!)

1. Oddly enough, the weather. It tends to be predictable, and I like that. When it snows, it tends to all dump at night and then melt off of the roads by a reasonable hour. In the summer it's usually only in the triple digits for maybe a week in August and the rest of the summer isn't unreasonable. Also, no humidity is nice in the summer when you don't feel like being perpetually gross and sweaty. This is, however, the only place where I have ever lived where I had to buy a humidifier.

2. Restaurants. A reasonable diversity of cheap-but-clean interesting restaurants of a variety of types (I am trying to avoid the word "ethnic" because it is so overused). Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Japanese (ok maybe they're not as cheap), Thai and Mexican. A smattering of mid-to super fancy nice options that are still nowhere as expensive as they would be in California. Just lots of good options for the stuff I don't cook at home.

3. Location. Not too far from the Bay area, but not too close. A totally reasonable drive to SF or Sacramento. And a totally easy-to-navigate, tiny airport that is smack in the middle of town if you really need to get out of here. Also, Tahoe.

4. Scenery. I likes me some mountains. And they don't f around with the sunsets out here, either.

5. Sociability. This is a small town and I have a couple of favorite places and a couple of favorite people. These frequently overlap - as in, if I go to one of my favorite places, I frequently run in to one of my favorite people. It's not so bad.

6. I can hear the train. Not like it's close by and annoying, but it's just near enough to hear off in the distance late at night when I'm in bed. And you know, everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance.

7. The downtown library. I wish I had a picture of this. There is no parking because it's in the middle of downtown, but you walk in at what is basically the third floor and have to go across this bridge covered in plants and the whole thing is a big open atrium with four floors of books that run around the edges and a big fountain in the middle at the bottom. It is seriously the my favorite library. Also, all the plants + fountain = pleasantly high levels of humidity and lovely peaceful background noise.

8. My house/neighborhood. It's a nice late-60's single-story, possibly what you would call a ranch, in a nice mellow neighborhood not too far from downtown with lots of trees. There are lots of neighborhoods like this, too. Older neighborhoods with neat older homes with some kooky personality and nice big trees. Trees are key.

9. The Truckee. We are technically high desert here, but the Truckee River runs right through downtown so we are at the edge of a little riparian area (walking distance from our house). It runs parallel to First Street so they basically built an island in the middle of it with an amphitheater and a kayak park. They get great free music in the little amphitheater and fill the park with people, then they get talented kayakers and have kayak competitions in the kayak park. All summer there are people with inner tubes floating down the river and playing in the water right downtown. This was a good move on the City of Reno's part. It makes it sociable and family-friendly and just a nice place to go to see music.

That is downtown Reno. Right by the movie theater.

10. The effort. The City of Reno is really trying to make this town family-friendly and outdoorsy and whatever, and they seem to be doing well. They have outdoor events all the time when the weather is nice and tons of free music. They are starting to have some minor-league (or something like that) sports leagues in town too so we got to go to what I guess was a semi-pro basketball game for free because somebody knew somebody and we got floor seats. Like, "Stupid ref get outta the way I can't see around you" type floor seats. It's a small enough town where that still happens but a big enough place they are trying to get lots of cool events like that. I don't really know if that made sense, but I am a fan.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pardonez Moi

I swear I haven't been slacking, I just am back to work and after such a nice break, it is a bit of a shock to the system! It is cold and slushy here, but no comparison to back east or apparently in the south right now, where they are all getting the weather we got about a month ago (freak snowstorms, power outages, snowed in for three days).

I'm still working on a mini To-Do list but it is affecting my Big List... I finally ordered some pillow covers for the living room and I am steeling myself to go hit the Macy's sale tomorrow and buy some new pillow inserts for our bedroom (it's the little things). I am also going to attempt to return some failed Christmas gifts and fill a couple of holes in my closet while I am out and about.

Also, the working on my band name/finding us some gigs is hitting a snag due to our lead trumpet player needing to take a class on Tuesday nights (a.k.a. rehearsal night) this semester. And I am not going to make it to a roller derby bout before Zebruary as that is when the season apparently starts. So at least I am getting the piddly shopping-y/decorat-ey crap done during the sales ;)

And expect a review post soon as I got some good books for Christmas and saw some interesting movies!

Monday, January 4, 2010

28 in 28? (oops! I meant to post this slightly closer to 1/1/10)

For the end of the year I thought instead of just catching up on the Christmas rundown (lots of kids, too many dogs, too much food), I would take some inspiration from some awesome ladies and make a different kind of To-Do list. I will be 28 this year and I don't want to use my birthday as a deadline so I just decided these are some things (silly and otherwise) I am going to try and accomplish in 2010.

1. Take a photography class. I tried one place in town that wasn't bad but it looks like there is a better place I can go with more serious classes.
2. Get one of those free makeovers at the makeup counter. Learn how to do a smoky eye and lips that won't smear and go away in 5 minutes. And all that porcelain skin BS.
3. Watch the Godfather movies. Preferably while eating Italian food. Also Jaws and E.T. The big iconic movies that make people say in shock, "You haven't seen ___?" Ideally with themed food involved in most cases.
4. Find a name for my new band and get us some gigs. Weddings or anything would be fine, just to get the ball rolling.
5. Attend the taping of a live TV show. A cousin used to work at 30 Rock and we may head out there for his wedding later this year so who knows. Of course, the one I really want to go to tapes in L.A. Figures.
6. Attend a roller derby bout. There are two leagues in Reno now, one flat-track and one banked-track. I practiced a little bit with them when there was only one. That did not work out. And I still haven't seen a bout.
7. Go boating with my in-laws. It's a long story. It would make them happy.
8. Attend the SF Opera. I have always wanted to and it's not that long of a drive...
9. Find a skincare routine that works. I'm in the process but it's tough between the allergies and the dry air and blah blah blah.
10. Re-try 5 foods I've always believed I disliked. Gotta think of some first. I am getting better at onions but still avoid shallots. Also salmon eggs. Eew. And possibly kiwi.
11. Attend a cultural celebration. Reno has lots of these. And I still haven't hit any. There is a huge Basque population here so I may try for what is commonly known as the Basco Fiasco. Also there is a Celtic/Highland games and I would go to that if they didn't cancel the heavy athletics (a la this past year). If I am paying to get in there better be big hairy guys in kilts competitively throwing telephone poles.
12. Remember birthdays. Half of my family is awesome at this and the other half is terrible. I want to be in the awesome half.
13. Get a bra fitting. TMI? Sorry.
14. Take a mat pilates class. Kim let me do one class with the machine and it creeped me out. I like being in control of the situation too much to deal with that whole setup. We're talking bars and chains and all sorts of crazy stuff. The thing is called The Reformer, for god's sake. Mat pilates seems reasonable in comparison.
15. Make some damn curtains. There is clearly no store out there for whom I am the target curtain shopper. Fabric, however, is not so hard to find. So buy some and end the fruitless searching.
16. Take a road trip across the U.S. Not necessarily the whole U.S. But at least bits I haven't seen. Zion. Or Yellowstone. Or someplace cool like that.
17. Make a cake from scratch. I like cooking, but this is one thing I've never done.
18. Plant a fruit tree. I even have a spot all picked out for it.
19. Finish the master bedroom and the master bath. The master bedroom just needs something to tie it together, maybe different bedding, I have no idea. Pictures and requests for advice may ensue. The master bath just needs some new bath mats and a TP holder of some sort. Probably no pictures coming there. Also, stop fantasizing about this for my side of the bed.
20. Get a quote on fixing the kitchen. It's not broken, but it could sure use some help. I like retro as much as the next guy, but this is ridiculous.
21. Go to a Broadway show. Hopefully this can coincide with that East Coast wedding later this year.
22. Send a Christmas card with a cheesy photo of Matt and me together. Possibly involving a sunset.
23. Go to a drive-in movie. There's even one in town. This shouldn't be that hard.
24. Clean out my closet. And then make it awesome. Fill it with colorful clothing and nice wood hangers (also possibly paint in there, who knows). But seriously. Organized, filled with useful stuff and not having so many weird gaps when I need to go somewhere dressed up or something.
25. Finish painting the living room and find a decent light fixture and chair to put in the entryway. Some sort of side table or bench with built-in shoe storage would be ideal.
26. Review my magazine subscriptions. Everyday with Rachel Ray I never read, I got it from some kid going door to door (I am a sucker). Sunset is a gift subscription so that is not going away. But whenever I go somewhere on a plane, I buy either a. something cheesy like Lucky or InStyle, or b. some random home design magazine because I have no idea which ones are any good anymore. So I figure since I am dumping one subscription, I should be able to justify a new one since it will save me from buying them off of the newsstands. But what should I choose? The last one I had was Domino, which was kind of twee for my taste but had lots of good ideas. Any suggestions?
27. Do some more sewing. This relates directly to #15 above. Also my need for capacious fabric hippie purses that don't involve embroidery, tassels or mirrors. I am getting really picky about my hippie bags in my old age. And my love of fabric. I could so easily start a hoard like my mom but she has the space for it and the time to use it. So I need to put a dent in my tiny stash and start getting better at this stuff!
28. Start another language class. Spanish would be practical but French would be fun! And Italian would be a good review. So basically, pick one.