Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday's reasonable to-do list

It's actually never reasonable, the stuff I want to accomplish on a Saturday, but here's the stuff I'd like to have happen. Oh, but first, here's a totally unrelated picture from a couple of weeks ago. We were getting some weather coming in, and I snapped this on my way to work. That's the building across the street from us.

It was super swirly. 

OK, for today:

1. Start some seeds! I just read something from a gardening blog I follow (A Way to Garden) and while I'm sure she's not the only one saying this, she had a nice little interview with an expert about how to keep seeds from getting leggy. After reading it, I won't be putting my seedlings in the basement and think the grow light is enough. I'll put them in my bedroom, in front of the west-facing window, with the light and the heat mat. We'll see if that does it this year. 

2. Pull up carpet in back hallway. I was at Home Depot yesterday to get something to pull up the wooden ruler-like carpet strip under the carpet, and found a smallish curved tool that is supposedly made to do the job. I will report back.

3. (maybe) Paint trim in back hallway. I need to retouch a few areas, and also go over the white trim back there. I thought the kid might like to help.

4. Hike. It's going to be a beautiful day, so Mr W and I will get out some time this afternoon and go for a hike. May or may not bring the dog, as only some trails allow them off-leash. 

I think that's enough. I need to work on making a bunch of new clay tiles for the brooch order I received, and that will be a few hours of work there. 

Happy Saturday!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Blast from my past

I ran into an old friend at the grocery store yesterday. I marvel at coincidence, how I can decide to make  a run by a store I usually only go to for small things, take my time getting my items (Easter basket goodies), stroll to the check out and see someone I know. 

We chatted briefly about what our lives are like at the moment. This was off the cuff, I wasn't expecting to account for the five years or so since I had last seen him. I said something like, "I'm good! I'm still at the CDC, still in the same house. Life is good. I started playing the banjo." 

I've been mulling the content and intent of my words, and thought as I got into the car that I sounded like nothing happens in my life, which isn't true. When you see someone at the grocery store and you've got about 2 minutes to catch up, I guess you try to hit the high points and convey that yes, things are good and that you are OK. He was a friend from the time I was married, and was around during my divorce. I feel compelled to show people from then (maybe now, too?) that I've done OK. 

It's Friday! This has been a very busy week. I need to start some seeds, and would also like to finish pulling up carpet in my back hallway and getting the peel and stick tile installed. 

I've had a nice experience on Etsy lately. A couple of weeks ago, a woman who owns a yarn shop (!) bought a few buttons and brooches from my shop. Then I listed more brooches, and she bought those. then I listed a few more and, you guessed it, she bought those too. She emailed asking about the possibility of buying 20 more, in colors that go with certain yarns. How cool is that?? I've been sort of blah about mixing new clay colors and making tiles, but this has revved me up and I'm looking forward to making a bunch of tiles this weekend. 

This is an example of one of the styles she liked:

Me too. I like all the textures doing their thing, yet there is a rhythm to it. Yea!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Choices choices choices

I've received the bids for the home renovation work and will go with a company I'll refer to as DJ. It's a bit more than I have refinanced, but he said that he was aiming a little high and that there will be lots of choices to make that can bring costs down.

Here is the drawing of the new layout that we will start from. The current layout has the fridge and stove switched. I'll take a bunch of pictures as it progresses. I'm excited to have a dishwasher (besides myself, I mean). 

The only thing I've seen so far that I really like and think might be worth the extra cost (and this of course will change once I meet with the designer again) is recycled glass countertops. They supposedly cost about the same as granite, and I think they look really cool. Here's a picture (from here):

You can choose from six or eight different edges on these things. These are the kinds of choices that will need to be made. I just hope I can tell the difference between the ones that matter and those that really don't. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Project in progress photos

I wanted to post a couple of before and after photos from painting my back hallway this past weekend. I really like it, it's so much lighter back there.

Here's before:

Yeah, the purple was not a good idea, and the original orange WAS pretty orangey, wasn't it? I also have too much stuff back there, but that's a project for another day. Here's a couple of "after" shots:

I did take a stab at pulling up the carpet, but need to get a smaller crowbar/wedge thingy to get the carpet strip up. It was as I suspected underneath, a layer of no-pile indoor/outdoor carpet that I'll lay the peel-and-stick vinyl tiles over. There was a sense of satisfaction involved in hooking my big crowbar under the carpet and pulling. It'll be nice to get the gross carpet out of there in favor of something that can actually get clean.

I took three coats of paint to cover that purple! I bought the "primer and paint in one" kind of paint and it covered for all the world like regular old paint. Oh well, it looks nice. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Next up: the back hallway in Torchlight

Well, we're expecting more snow, so in what feels like a repeat of a couple of weeks ago (when we were supposed to get a big storm, although it totally fizzled) I went to Home Depot today to pick up some paint. I figured I might as well do a project if I was potentially going to be snowed in. I bought paint to repaint my back hallway. The color I chose is Behr's "Torchlight".

I wanted something colorful, but that also felt light. When I bought the house, the back hallway was part of the space where a porch had been added after the house was constructed. The kind of porch they build so the entrance to the cellar is enclosed. It was a very orangey orange. Glossy. The sellers said something about it being stimulating for the new baby. 

For reasons that escape me at the moment, when the wall was put up to make Mr W's room out of the porch, only half of the area got repainted. I chose a medium-dark purple, and the guy was absolutely right. The dark color makes the space feel like a cave. But it's only half dark purple, because the other half is still the orangey orange color. Why I never finished the job is what I can't quite recall. 

No matter. Tomorrow I make it all better. Yes, I'll take pictures. I should say that what precipitated this particular project is that I've had it up to here with the nasty carpet in said back hallway. I figured I should paint before a new floor is installed. Why, oh why do people put tan shag carpeting in one of the highest traffic spots in the house? It's permanently dirty. I went over it a lot with the rug cleaner before my family came out last August and I don't think it made much difference.

Here's where I feel I have made progress in some grown up, self-reliant kind of way. Whereas before my thought process logically went something like, "I need to hire someone to rip up that carpet and put some vinyl flooring down," now (for whatever reason) it occurs to me that I can rip up 40 square feet of carpet myself and buy tiles of peel and stick vinyl flooring and install them myself. So I bought a box of it when I got the paint.

It's in 12" x 12" squares and has some orange tones that will go with the paint. I don't have much on the schedule this weekend, and we are supposed to get a bunch of snow, so I'll see how much I can get done. My goal is to at least have get the walls painted and the carpet ripped up. Yea!!

Image from here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Ignite talk

They posted the videos from the Ignite talk I gave on our microbiomes. Here it is!

I was crazy nervous, but I think I did pretty good. I'm glad they shot the videos so I could see it!

It's big

Mr W's on spring break this week, so I took Monday off and we went down to the Forney Transportation museum in Denver. We had gone when he was about five, and I took a similar picture. Here he is with his friend P, who joined us for the outing.

I really liked how they had things set up so we could get down on ground level with these trains. This is a Union Pacific Big Boy, the largest locomotive EVAH. It was massive. Apparently used mostly in the mountain west. I was pleased (relieved?) that in this age of video games and screen input, kids are still wowed by big stuff like trains. 

In the middle-right of the photo, you can see another train car, which was at the level of the rest of the museum, about four feet higher than where the boys are standing. They had lots of vintage cars, as well as a selection of station wagons, of all things, and it was fun to recall going places in my aunt's old wagon. 

We ate lunch at a 50's-style diner, and the boys had questions about Elvis, juke boxes, and the decor of the place. It was fun. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mostly before and mostly after

I should have taken pictures of the absolute beginning of this venture, when this room's floor was mostly covered with boxes. It feels like a big accomplishment to have gone through and sorted, pitched and given away things, as well as to rebox the stuff I'm keeping and put it away in the adjoining room next to this one. The boxes weren't more than one layer thick, but there were still lots of them. The above picture is after I've prepped the room for painting. 

There are two small windows along the wall on the right, and you can see the far one in the upper right corner of the pictures. The room is about 24' long, and I'm standing with my back against the wall in both of theses pics. The ceiling was previously a dark peach color, and the walls used to match, but a coat of primer was put over them by the previous owners. Both the ceiling and walls were so DULL.  

So here's an after shot where things are coming along. On the far side of the dresser on the right there are a few boxes of books I need to rehome, and a box of old phones and electronics that need to be recycled (there's a place in town that will take the stuff, and they charge by the pound, I think. I need to find out more about it). 

I used semi-gloss white for the ceiling and I LOVE it. The walls are satin finish and a bright yellow green that I'm very pleased with. The room looks fresh and bright and despite the low ceiling, it feels spacious. On the far end is the old desk I use to glue my jewelry together. My supplies are boxed up and in the other room.

This is looking from the other corner on the same side of the room. You can see the table I moved out from the adjoining room (that was holding boxes) that will now be the site of games and puzzles and flat-surface things we don't have room for upstairs. This part pleases me a lot. I'm glad I got to this point before buying a rug. The couch-coffee table-TV combo takes up more room than I thought, and whereas I thought I needed a big rug for this space, a 5' x 8' will do fine. I just need to decide whether I'll put the remnant that is currently on the floor under the table or what. Plenty of time for that.

Parade Photo

It was a so-so St. Patrick's Day parade this year. Not sure why. Maybe because we got there a little late and had to jostle for position. Maybe in this age of instant gratification the stop-start nature of the parade participants was a little annoying. Maybe the floats this year were kind of *yawn*. 

One of the solid traditions of this parade is that a lot of candy is passed out. They used to just throw it on the ground and kids would grab what they could. It has evolved into more of a Halloween thing, where kids have bags and people walk down the line and put candy in bags, one at a time. 

Mr W likes getting candy from the parade, but had his feelings hurt when he was passed over often in favor of the littler kids near him. At one point he said, "I'm only 12!" I guess that's about the age when the candy stuff ends, I was sorry to note. I don't know, he's about five and a half feet tall, maybe they thought he was even older. 

One definite high point of the festivities was seeing this group of storm troopers. I don't know who they represented, but it was fun to see the group. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Unexpected shoe windfall

Spring is coming, which means summer is coming, which means I need to get a summer pair of shoes. I prefer to go without socks during the summer, and we have to have our toes covered in the lab at work, so over the years I have sought out shoes that meet these requirements.

I had a pair of Keens for a couple of years that were almost perfect. They were like t-strap shoes, except they were slides, so there was no back. Easy on and off and I loved them! Wore them until they fell apart, which doesn't take as long as it used to, unfortunately. As these things go, that style isn't made anymore, so I've had to look for other things to fill the bill.

These shoes are made by Jambu. They've got the same black toe cap that I think you either love or hate but some really fun styles. This one is called Blossom, and I like the cutouts and the flowers. Yea!

I went to order these shoes yesterday from Zappos, which I've used over the last few years because they ship for free and have good customer service. I was about to check out when I saw I had a store credit. Huh? So I looked further and the credit was for $80 and was from 2009. Huh? Well, OK. I believe that I would do something like that, leave the credit and then forget it even when I have bought shoes subsequently. Dufus. 

But yesterday, I used that credit, and spent all of $9 on these shoes. I felt triumphant, and just a little foolish for not noticing the credit before.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Extra credit

It's just about the end of the quarter for Mr W, and he came home Monday saying he needed to do two small projects. The first was to demonstrate the different densities of various liquids, so we hauled out the (from the bottom) molasses, pancake syrup, dish soap, water (they mixed), and cooking oil. We later surmised (actually he did with his teacher) that some of the soap reacted with some of the oil, which is the cloudy stuff above the green. Pretty cool, huh?

The other project, which I don't have a picture of, as it's on my phone, was to build a model that was an example of Mayan residential architecture. We rose to the challenge with polymer clay and he'll present that today. 

I lament the fact that Mr W loves to do stuff like this, but it is rarely a part of the curriculum, especially in science. At one point, he was so turned off by how his science teacher taught ("she has a LAB in her room, and we never USE it!") he said he was never going to take science again. I told him he'd get a good one one of these days. 

Monday, March 11, 2013


I am about 80% done with painting the basement, and I feel so accomplished! It feels good and right to be transforming a place that just held boxes from my past into usable space that will make my little house feel bigger.  Not sure what got me going on this, but the metaphorical implications have me thinking about personal growth and all that stuff. It's good. And good to have a bonus room.

I forgot to upload pictures from my phone, but I did take a couple of before shots that I'll post tomorrow. I am especially happy with the ceiling. As I mentioned before, it is a low 6' 2" or so, and was painted this sort of darkish peach color. And there was a thin coat of white that barely covered the fact that the walls used to be the same color.

I read somewhere that painting a low ceiling with semi-gloss white was the best choice, because it reflected light or some such thing. The paint department woman at Home Depot said they didn't have ceiling paint in semi-gloss, so I said to just give me the semi-gloss. Paint is so thick these days that it didn't spatter all that much. I am so happy with the results. Going down there the next day, even with no lights on, and it was a brighter, happier space.

I've cut in around the top and corners with the Pear color and it's going to work great, too. I'm glad I didn't go with anything more intense in color. This is light, and fresh and just what I wanted. I'll finish cutting in around the floor this weekend, and I figure Mr W won't mind rolling the walls as long as I've done the detail work. "Stay away from the ceiling with the roll- D'oh! Nevermind, we'll repaint that part later..."

I like the idea of a couple of low-to-the-floor chairs. Maybe like this in a different fabric:

It's fun to think about decorating options. 

Image from here.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Pear" and some thoughts on weather forecasting

We have a winner in the basement paint decision making. It is Pear, by Behr. Here's a picture pulled off the web (source below) with a rockin' blue ceiling that I'm not going to do this round, but really like.

I intentionally picked something kind of bright because the basement only has a couple of small windows. It's funny how different the paint chip looked at Home Depot vs. in my car driving to work (stopped at a light, of course), vs. when I was in bed with the compact fluorescent bulb lamp illuminating things vs at work. 

Compared to the color of this on my screen, the paint chip has a bit more yellow than the picture. I figure it will match nicely with browns, as well as blues, and yellow as well. I'm going to finish my coffee, have some breakfast and get to it.

We are supposed to have a doozy of a winter storm today, and so far, it's been a bit of a disappointment, although it is snowing steadily at the moment. We had temps in the high 50's this week, so surfaces are pretty warm to begin with, and the temperature is in the low 30's now. Even if it just rains, we in CO are so grateful for moisture, as it has been a very dry winter. 

It's time to think about starting seeds, and I'm on the fence about what to start. The chances of me being able to grow lettuce starts comparable to those I can find at the local nursery are slim. And it helps that they satisfy, in that I buy a red leaf, a green leaf and a spinach and like my salads just fine with those. I have a packet of seeds that is a variety of spring mix things. Maybe I'll give that a go. I can always buy the starts if if doesn't work out.

One thing I am most certainly going to start is several varieties of zinnias. They've consistently done well in my hot, south-facing alley garden, so I'm going to take advantage of that. There are so many kinds, too. For the rest of the growing slots in my little bit of seed starting space (one heat mat and one 2' grow light) I'll have to ponder and see what appeals to me.

I have had the great good fortune to cross paths with a super-gardener. She's in the gamer group I joined about a year ago, and growing food is her thing. I am so inspired by her, and look forward to talking garden stuff as this season progresses. She's also come to most of the trivia nights that I've been organizing, so she is a friend as well. Win-win!!

And speaking of trivia, it has been a lot of fun to get some friends together and participate. The music is too loud sometimes, and we probably don't drink as much as the bar would like us too (I say that facetiously) but I have really enjoyed it. This past week, there were people from three different parts of my life there, and that was really cool. 

Image from here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

So many choices

My basement purge is pretty much complete, and it does feel good to be done going through boxes that evoked some strong emotions. I still have a lot of stuff, but it all fits in the unfinished furnace room in my basement. That leaves the finished room, which I envision as a TV room (if I had a TV, which I'm almost considering, but not there yet), place to play board games, etc. It wasn't until I had gotten the stuff out of there and arranged the few pieces of furniture that it actually clicked in my mind that, "hey, this will be a good usable space". It was as though I had received a bonus room all of the sudden.

Well, before I procure any more stuff to put in this room, I want to paint it. The ceiling is low (about 6' 2") and I want to paint it white (it's this peachy color at the moment, which draws your eye up to see how low the ceiling is...) and then paint the walls a nice fresh color. 

The website Design Seeds, as I think I have mentioned here before, has tons of color combinations and I've listed a few here. It's looking like bluish green, greenish blue, yellowish green, something like that. I'll just have to get some samples to tape on the walls, and sit with a glass of wine to decide. 

Purple is always a possibility. This is one good thing about living alone. The color choice is mine all mine, and I don't have to negotiate to get the color I want on the walls. Do you like using color on your walls, or do you like to keep it neutral and then decorate around that?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sheep dog

Submitted almost without comment, except to say that she swam in clean water after this, and had a blast.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Project pictures

This is a picture mid-project of the table that Mr W and I are tiling. Here, the tiles have been set, but we haven't put the grout on yet, as he was sick over the weekend (poor kid). He stayed home yesterday and will hopefully be back at it today. 

This is totally my kind of DIY project. Want to include some glass beads? No problem. They don't fit well? Just put them how you like them. The black and white tiles don't exactly "go" with the iridescent tiles? That's OK, it still looks good. 

Up at the top of the bottom photo, it's hard to see, but there are is one regular sized bead set next to one globby, kind of double, bead. Mr W wanted to include it so it didn't feel left out. I thought that was a great sentiment. 

The iridescent tile sheets we picked up at Home Depot on sale for $7 each. I LOVE this stuff. I'm looking forward to getting the rest of it done next time the kid is here and will post pictures. I want to include some glass tile in the kitchen redo. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Thanks, Target

I'm not one of those people who is at Target the day after a holiday to scavenge the newly-discounted post-holiday goodies. I do swing by the sale shelves occasionally, though, and picked up an Amaryllis bulb in its own pot sometime after Christmas for around $5. 

The interesting stuff:cost ratio on this purchase has been really high. It doesn't exactly grow in front of your eyes, but almost. It's provided us with a couple of months of observation, and is now on its way out. I have researched how to make it all happen again, and am going to try to get this thing to rebloom next year. It involves lots of sun, then getting it outside, so I'm going to have to repot it into something that has a water reservoir because I'm not that good at remembering to water pots daily. 

I have another Amaryllis that is at least 3 years old (post bloom, probably got that on sale, too) that consists of two leaves that limps along in a darkish corner of my living room and yearns to bloom again, so I'll bring it along for the experiment. 

Mr W was suitable impressed with the growth of the bulb, and asked questions about what was going to happen, which I could reply with, "This, but wait and see, too". Totally worth the $5. 

Friday, March 1, 2013


Not sure if I mentioned it here, but I signed up to do a talk with a group in town called Ignite Fort Collins. They organize quarterly events where 14 people talk for 5 minutes on topics of their choice. The motto is "Enlighten us, but make it quick!" I volunteer for them, doing a bit of communication stuff, and think it's a great organization. I think I've been doing this for almost a year, so it was time to do a talk.

They'll put videos of the talks online, and I'll post it here when that happens. It talks a surprisingly long time to prepare for a five minute talk. I spoke about the human microbiome. The trillions of bacteria in us and on us that call us home. It was a good experience to speak in front of 200 people. I was nervous, but did my power poses, and doing them helped. The lights were such that I couldn't really see anyone, but they laughed at my jokes, so that was good.

Preparations for the talk took most of my evenings this week. Mr W had a band concert at school last night that I missed, but his dad took him, attended it and kept Mr W for the night. I took Mr W to his rehearsal the day before and heard the two pieces they played. They've improved since their first concert in December. I'm thinking of framing Mr W's percussion activity as something that he just does as part of school. As in, if he's liking it well enough, he'll do it through middle school.

And, it's Friday! I am going to make a big push to get rid of basement stuff this weekend. I've got bags of trash, boxes of recyclable paper, and bags of stuff to give to Goodwill that need to GO. With all that stuff out, I'll get a few more plastic boxes for the stuff that needs to be stored well, stack those puppies and get my finished room back. Yea!! I might not be able to resist getting an area rug and some new lights from Target, and then wait for good deals on a couple of chairs to go down there. We'll see.