A Few Words About San Francisco Real Estate

Every once in a while my husband threatens to find a job in the San Francisco Bay Area. I say threaten because for a Midwesterner like me, the San Francisco is insanely expensive and while I’m a liberal at heart, maybe the whole area is just a little too far West for me. Well, a few weeks ago we finally went to San Francisco mostly for vacation, but the trip was also part reconnaissance mission. What is San Francisco real estate like? Would the lifestyle be a good fit for us?

Here are a few pictures and my thoughts of our San Francisco experience (I took the pictures with my phone and I only cropped the images).

Alcatraz building

Bay views are essential and apparently a roof will cost you extra.

living roof top

Environmentally conscientious Californians like a “living roof”. This one made me think I was in The Shire.

crooked driveway

Street parking is tricky and there are always tourists to deal with.

sculpture

Curb appeal is important, so some sort of quirky sculpture is recommended.

gates

Gates will keep the tourists farther away, but it won’t stop them from taking pictures. In fact, it just makes them wonder even more about what is inside.

no trespassing

If you cover the side of your building in a beautiful flowering vine you must, absolutely must, post a No Trespassing sign to keep tourists from getting any closer.

jail cell

Efficiency apartments are super tiny and only rented to arts and crafters.

skulls

One animal skull on the wall isn’t enough.

toilet fountain

The plumbing is confusing.

jail shower

The trend toward larger showers with multiple shower heads has gotten extreme.

hanger chandelier

Bay Area homeowners are so broke, they’ve resorted to making their own chandeliers.

family portrait

Some selfies are under the influence of psychedelic drugs.

lily pond

Your backyard pond must have lily pads.

pagoda

Don’t forget the pagoda.

painted ladies facelift

The postcard perfect Painted Ladies are not always camera ready and need a face-lift every now and then.

zen garden

Everyone has their own private Zen garden.

There you have it. While I doubt we’ll be moving there any time soon, hopefully I’ve given you some inspiration on how to live like a San Franciscan. For now, I’m grateful for the roof over my head and that I don’t have to park on Lombard St.

Bye-Bye Beige!

We are quickly approaching our two year anniversary of moving back into our house and guess what? After owning our home for six years, we have finally gotten around to painting the master bedroom! Sound the trumpets and hear the choirs sing! Here is the before picture complete with the lovely pink tone beige color that was in every room of the house when we bought it.

Master Before

Note the ugly brass hardware, ceiling fan and popcorn ceilings. Bleh. Here is the after.

Master After

Bye-bye beige and hello beautiful brown! For some reason I love dark brown in the bedroom. The last house we owned, I painted the master with a very similar color. Just like every room we’ve done before, we removed the popcorn ceiling, replaced the ugly light fixture and changed out the door hardware. That is all we did and I think it is a huge improvement. I just love what the more dramatic color does for this room. I think the room can handle the dark color thanks to the high ceiling and all of the light we get from the two west-facing windows.

different angle

Since I’m done with ceilings and painting this house, I look forward to lots of fun projects in the coming months including new curtains for this room and new decorative pillows for the bed. I’d like to change out these curtains for something less sheer, but still light in color, probably a white linen. I still like the idea of colorful pillows to coordinate with just about the only artwork I have in the room, the print on the left side wall.

artwork

These are Cathy Nichols prints I purchased from her Etsy shop. Since she no longer has the Etsy shop, you have to go through a Los Angeles gallery to purchase her work. Darn it! I like how the bright colors look against the dark wall.

bedside table

Another project that I might try is resurfacing the glass lamps. I don’t know how this happens, but the inside of the glass has gotten dirty and as far as I can tell, there is no way for me to clean it. I don’t get it. A possible solution is to frost the glass, or apply some sort of glass texture.

tall wall

This tall wall is a big blank. I have two large canvases that I might try to paint with colors that coordinate with the Cathy Nichols prints. I’m also thinking the dresser should have a tall funky lamp sitting on the left side and then I’ll slide in a comfy chair in the left corner for a nice reading nook. Maybe I’ll place a large round basket filled with throw blankets to the right of the dresser.

Before and After

So, we’ve cozied up the bedroom with a beautiful brown color. I can’t wait to add some decorative touches. What color do you like to paint your bedroom? Do you prefer dramatic colors or maybe something serene? Maybe both, like my chocolate brown?

In my next post I plan to share some pictures from our recent trip to San Francisco. See you then!

 

 

Elbow Grease

I’ve been working on the my house. Really, I have! Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’m accomplishing much around here if I don’t share it with y’all, but what I’ve been working on lately doesn’t make for the best before/after pictures.

I recently cleaned our windows and I don’t mean the glass. I mean the gross parts like the trim and tracks. Our windows slide open like sliding doors and they’re a real pain to clean.

window

I didn’t take a before picture and you should thank me for that. Some tracks were full of bug bits. I’m guessing no one else had thought to clean this part of the windows since the house was built back in 2002, twelve years of dirt. I’ve got a strong stomach and I just about gagged a couple of times.

I also weeded our plant beds, again and spread new pinestraw mulch.

Our kitchen floor was looking too shabby to be chic, so I caved-in and bought a super-duper chemical grout cleaner.

Grout cleaner

I think it’s diluted hydrochloric acid. A little acid will always melt away your problems, won’t it? Ahem . . . so after I worked up the courage to actually open the bottle, I got down on my hands and knees with a toothbrush. I was certain the chemical would work like a charm when it bubbled, no, fizzed on contact with the grout. Once the fizz fizzled out, I realized elbow grease was required too. Dang it. It took a few tiles for me to get my technique perfected.

kitchen floor

The left side is before and the right side is after. I found it best to let the solution sit on the grout for a few minutes, then add more solution to the grout line with my toothbrush just as I began to scrub, scrub, scrub. It seemed like it cleaned more effectively if you scrubbed while it fizzed.

The brass door knobs throughout our house had finally outstayed their welcome, so I pulled the trigger on my Amazon wish list. Hardware for an entire house of doors weighs a lot! I’m glad I was home when the UPS guy delivered so he could set the boxes down inside the house. I decided to go with the Kwikset Ashfield Venetian bronze lever style door knob.

door knobs

The lever style is more expensive than a knob, but I think it’s worth it so I won’t be stuck in the bathroom with freshly applied lotion on my hands. I’ve heard folks with arthritis appreciate the lever style too. Changing out the handles isn’t too hard to do. Although, if your doors need painting, when you change out the hardware would be a really good time to do that. I’m in a hurry, so I’m just sanding down any rough spots of paint before I put on the new hardware.

Okay, so that is what I’ve been up to these last few weeks. Next week I’ll share our master bedroom redo. It was the last room with a popcorn ceiling in the house. Yahoo! Until next time, friends!

Try, try, try….

 

Ok, so I have really been wanting to sew my daughter a raglan style t-shirt and so I found instructions for a DIY pattern.  It sounded easy enough and made sense so I gave it a go.

ruffleshirt2

Above were my first three attempts.  These were all made using the DIY instructions.  The first one was comically small.  My daughter reassured me that she could use it for her American Girl Doll!  Hee-hee. Also, I placed the pattern on the main fabric upside down. It could go either way but I wanted it going the other direction so it look more like a banner and less like triangles.

For the second attempt I made it bigger, but then the neck was way too big!

My third attempt was better but the neckline still had issues and the shirt looked wonky in general.  Also, I had trouble getting the hem right for the sleeves and bottom of the t- shirt.

This was my 4th try.  This time I decided I needed an actual pattern so I purchased and downloaded this one.

May 2014 270

This helped a lot! The neckline is much better and no more general wonkiness. I was also really happy with my top-stitching of the neckline and my double needle skills on the sleeve hem.May 2014 269

One thing I learned when working on this project was that it’s best to not try to sew the entire shirt with the serger.  Especially under the arms with the serger knife down.  I kept making big holes on the underarms.  Sometimes I think in curved areas like that it is best to sew the seam on a regular sewing machine first and then go back with the serger.  Preferably not with the knife down!

Two things that I’ve learned that have helped me to improve my sewing are:

1- try, try, try again

and

2- slow down!

I think the things that made this shirt look better each time I sewed had less to do with garment construction and more to do with getting the details right.

Taking my time when top-stitching really seamed to improve the look of the garment.

I could also add a third item

3 – Press, press, press … with the iron.
Pressing the seams,even on knits, or I should say, especially on knits, really made the shirt look less hand made.

Keeping these items in mind while sewing really helped me to improve the look of the fifth version.

 

chevront-shirt

The best part was that this one turned out well enough for my daughter to actually wear this to school. I was so happy with these results that I decided that I needed to make one more attempt using this ruffled fabric and here are the results.

ruffleshirt1

A fun shirt we both like.  Sometimes on the internet I feel like all we ever see is the happy final product without all the mess ups. I needed this reminder that it doesn’t always end up perfect the first time.

So have you been working on improving some of your skills lately?  Do you find failure the key to success?
Apparently, I do!
 

Where we’ve gotten so far

I am ridiculously excited that August will mark 3 years living here at our home in Texas.  Once we pass that 3 year mark it will officially be the longest that we’ve ever lived anywhere in our married life!  So with that in mind I thought I would take stock in how things have evolved at our place, mainly with our living room, over the past 3 years.  But, before I do that let’s take a look at how our DOG has changed!

Indy collage

Aww… Check it out!  Look at what a cute puppy he was!  He has grown so much!  It is amazing how much our children and our pets can change so quickly over time.  But in this case our homes too.

Here are a couple of photos from when we first moved in.

Evolve1

Here are side by shots of simiar views both from when we first moved in and now.

beforeafter1

I guess camera quality has also improved!  Funny, we gained curtains and lost a rug!  We also added an ottoman, more plants, and most recently pictures on our TV wall.  Wires and outlets are also disguised.  It definitely feels more homey now!

fireplace2

On the left is our fireplace before we painted it the same color as the wall.  Then, here on the right are our most recent changes.  I was afraid to add this mirror above the mantle with all the light that comes it, but by layering the wreath on top I was able to get the mirror look I wanted without the glare.

livingroom2

Here are a few more looks around the room at how things have changed.  It just goes to show you that you don’t have to decorate all in one step.  Slow and steady can get the job done too.  If you are willing to wait and if you live there long enough!

May 2014 105

There’s always more I’d love to do.  I’d love to add a rug (this one!).  I’d also be happy to add pillows if the dog and kids didn’t use them as toys!  They just seem to get torn up too fast!  But maybe now that both he and the kids are a little more mature they may last a little longer – maybe. I’d also definitely love to paint, but what color?  That may take some time to figure out.  In the meantime, I’m really happy that I’ve gotten to live here long enough to see where we’ve gotten so far!

 

 

Outdoor Decor

It already seems like summer is in full swing and if you look at my Instagram feed this is the case!  We’ve already had several weeks of great weather.  It has been a time to enjoy the outdoors and as we did that we also had our end of year scouts, end of season parties for sports, recitals, birthdays, Mother’s day, Memorial day… and all kinds of days.  In the midst of all that activityI really enjoyed picking that one special photo to describe the fun of the moment.  While I’m not a huge Facebook fan.  I really enjoy Instagram!

instacollage1

Above are photos from the last few weeks.  It is fun to look through your pictures at a glance and remember those moments.  I haven’t posted in a while but looking at my photos reminds me why!  Time has flown by with so much going on!

In the midst of this end of year craziness, about a week ago, I went with my neighbor to a nearby town that has a surprising amount of antique shops.  I saw lots of fun things.  It is a town that deserves it’s own blog post.  Sadly, I didn’t take photos while I was there.  It’s claim to fame is that it is the hometown of World War II hero Audie Murphy.  Although accidental, going right before Memorial Day seemed like an appropriate time to visit.  My family even watched the Biography channel movie about his life later that Memorial day weekend.  It was amazing all he accomplished in a short time.

While in Audie Murphy’s hometown of Farmersville I stumbled upon these chairs.  There were three of them.  They were sitting outside one of the businesses with a sign that said “free, please take them with you”.  And so I did!  I had been wanting to find some retro style chairs for my yard but all the types that I liked really didn’t go with the more traditional brick exterior of my home.  But I think these chairs with their retro styling and more traditional color gave me a look that worked.

May 2014 222

Next I had to figure out a cushion solution.  I didn’t want to purchase any more foam to make more cushions.  After having made that last bench cushion in my kitchen I wanted a break from cushion making for a while and foam is so expensive!  Then I remembered I had these, rather large, pillows.  I had made them a few years earlier but they proved to be too large for our couch and were always ending up on the floor.  They were colors that would go great with the chairs.  So I slapped them down and they did look nice!

May 2014 254

But it wasn’t quite right.  So then I had the idea to box the corners of the pillows to make them look more like a chair cushion.

May 2014 255

To box the corners I just had to turn the pillow cases inside out.  Then take each corner and pull the two sides of the fabric away from each other and flatten the corner in that new direction.  Then sew diagonally across that new corner that I made.  Then I repeated for the other three corners and my boxed corners were all done!

May 2014 256

I really liked this quick fix as it enabled me to use something perfectly good that I already had.  Are you seeing a pattern here?  I am really happy when I can make the most of something I already own.  I think most of us are like this, no?  Obviously these aren’t ideal outdoor pillows as they aren’t made of a durable outdoor fabric.  But, since I will only use these occasionally and since they were just sitting on a shelf not being used this new found use is a win-win!

May 2014 223

Here you see the other two chairs off in the distance.  The chair up close here is a glider.  We have all ended up fighting over it.  Everyone loves a glider chair.  Since I only had the two pillows I did purchase a flat outdoor cusion from Target so all seats had a cushion.  I think for that small investment we will get lots of enjoyment out of these chairs this summer – that is until next week when it is too hot to go outside!!

So, it seems more and more in magazines you see indoor items used for outdoor decor.  Do you ever do that?  Or do you think in real life it isn’t so practical?  I think I’m on the fence on this one.  What do you think?

 

 

 

Excuse me, my dishwasher repairman has something to say…

001A few weeks ago my dishwasher wasn’t draining properly and after attempting to clear up the situation myself I had to call in the professionals.  When my dishwasher repairman came I got a lesson in dish washer use 101. dishwasher

 

He first informed me that my dishwasher was NOT a dishwasher, say WHAT?

It is a dish sanitzer.  Huh?  Yes, a dish sanitizer.  It was not made to clean the food from your dishes only to sanitize already cleaned dishes.

He also said that it is hot water that sanitize dishes not the soap.  And according to what I learned in my college microbiology class this is accurate.

I had been using those all in one detergent tabs, pretty mindlessly I might add, and the dish washer repairman pointed out that while those tabs include both the rinse agent and the dish detergent I already had my rinse aid loaded in the corresponding area in my dishwasher.  Basically, I had a double dose of rinse aid each time I washed my dishes which was unnecessary.  Also, he said that I only needed to fill my dish detergent dispenser half full as I had been filling it totally full.  According to him the dishes didn’t need that much soap to get clean.  This meant that I could save myself some cash by skipping those fancy tabs and buying regular old dish detergent and filling it half way.  This was at least some good news.

He also noted before I used my dish “sanitizer” that I should run hot water in my sink to get the water from the hot water heater to the dishwasher faster.  If you don’t it’s just taking that much longer to get the hot water to the dishes.  So you don’t have hot water during the first cycle or so (depending on how far away your hot water heater is) cleaning your dishes and as he said hot water is what gets the dishes clean.

He also recommended that the best cleaner for your dishwasher is a bowl of vinegar in the top rack of your dishwasher set on a shorter cycle.  This was more good news – a simple way to clean your dishwasher with something that you already probably have on hand.

I asked him which used more water the dishwasher or washing by hand.  Maybe this is obvious to you but, I have heard/ read conflicting view points on this. I guess it depends on how you wash them by hand but he said the dishwasher uses approximately 1 gallon per cycle.  Depending on how many cycles your washer goes through you could be using up to 5 or 6 gallons of water to use your dish washer versus the 1 gallon or so you would use in your sink.

Washing dishes is one of my least favorite activities so hearing that what I really have is a dish sanitizer didn’t really make me happy.  In reality I already knew this but it is just so easy to throw the dishes in and go.  My hands are really sensitive to all that water and especially in the winter they get so dry and cracked.  For that reason I will admit to not being not much of a pre-rinser and that was what had cause my problem.

Living in Texas and going on 3 years of little rain I try to be more conscious of my water usage.  So I guess the solution is to just wash them by hand with hot water and use gloves! I don’t like the idea of washing dishes twice!  And if I do use my dishwasher I must pre-rinse and also get the hot water there faster by running the water in the sink – (with a bucket underneath to use for watering my plants!)

Lately that is what I’ve been doing lots more of and my dishwasher seems happier.  So what is your take on this?  I’m pretty sure everyone has their own system and opinions  on how to get their dishes clean.  Do you worry about water usage like I do or is getting your dishes spotlessly clean more important to you? Let me know!