Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Secret-ing" Craigslist and the blessings of Artists

I was recently reminded of the new age book 'The Secret' which is something about willing your mind in a way to ultimately get what you really want.

That philosophy doesn't really work for me in life except when it comes to acquiring free things off of Craigslist.
I always tell Andrea to be patient when we need something to update our house such as doors, kitchen cabinets etc. Readers of this blog might recall last year's luck in getting new, white kitchen cabinets from an artist in W. Oakland. I firmly believe that what we need for the house will essentially show up on Craigslist.

This past week was another prime example of "Secret-ing"  Craigslist.

We always talked about getting a trundle bed for the guest bedroom ($200-$400 new) and new linoleum to complete our kitchen updating ($200-$300).  Lo and behold, there was a post giving away some free, new linoleum.
The picture showed a nice shiny roll that would work in our kitchen and so I responded and someone got back to me that I had to "come get it now".  It was only a few blocks away in the once-industrial heart of W. Oakland.  To my surprise, I stumbled upon 6 acres of artist studios and one of the artists there was clearing things out.  Not only did I get some great linoleum to cover our pathetically old floor, I learned of a huge art scene only a few blocks away. http://www.americansteelstudios.com/

Then this past weekend, I saw an ad giving away a vintage metal trundle bed.  Andrea and I had talked about what kind of bed would make sense in the small bedroom for guests and a trundle offers the ability to accommodate  a single guest or a couple.

I emailed them that I was interested in it but didn't have a truck to haul it.  To my pleasant surprise, they offered to deliver it as well.  This young couple came by and showed it to me and it was in fantastic shape! Nothing missing, all original parts and even had the original tag on it.  The young woman said it used to belong to her grandmother and that they no longer needed it. I gave them some lemons to thank them and then spray painted it white and it looks brand new!  I plan on looking for metal railings to turn it into a daybed too and then all it would need are fresh, new mattresses.  We would only buy a new mattress and would NEVER use craigslist for that. Who knows what bedbugs and other yukky thinks you would find in a used mattress.

So we are going to install the new linoleum and look for new mattresses soon.  If you apply 'The Secret' to your home needs and Craigslist, you may too get everything you want!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

February's Garden

Hi, we are having some nice weather lately so I'm back with a few garden pics. We've noticed a new little bird that visits our yard lately, whom we've named Donald Hollinger. He's got a sort of king-of-the-hill personality and he sings. There's another tiny, chubby bird we call "Lil Sebastian'.

More sunflowers

Our first baby carrot

Sculpture Arm w/Nasturtium

New Roma tomato plant

Oregano & Arugula are both flourishing:

p.s. I made a 'healthy belly birthday cake' with a side of vanilla soy ice cream, and we both liked it. George is a good sport that's for sure. Dr. Oz had this recipe on his show for a "5-layer Flat Belly Dessert." I didn't make the trifle layered version, mine is a 13x9 flat version so I used less in the ricotta layer. I also substituted shredded coconut for almond slivers. Here is the link to his recipe.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Green Onion & Spaghetti Squash

Food Food Food. This will be my new segment on this blog when it's relevant.

I have an interesting and sustainable tip I just learned about. If you use green onions or chives, instead of tossing the white bulb part into your compost trash, you can place it in a jar of water and it will grow new shoots of green onion again! How resourceful is that?

Last week after cutting up green onion, I put 3 of the discard bulbs in a jar of water and set on the kitchen windowsill. A day or two later it was already growing. They are a few inches now and you can cut and use them and keep re-growing it in water until it stops growing apparently. Isn't that cool? (I will add a picture of ours.)

A little more info here: http://www.ehow.com/how_5104871_grow-onions-chives-discarded-roots.html

p.s. I've rediscovered spaghetti squash and it's a great substitute for pasta. You slice the squash in half, spoon out the seeds, bake it face down at 350 for approx. 45 minutes and then with a fork sort of comb out the squash in spaghetti strands. I topped it with Italian spaghetti sauce and a couple of turkey meatballs. Delicious!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

3 Days in January Part 3 "The Claire"

Whilst in the middle of letting the tub dry and sitting down (for not even a minute) after putting up insulation, I wondered to myself if I have enough energy to get this wall done before baby comes home. It was nice to just sit for a second, sweaty, having not showered for two days, hands and body hurting. I thought, "this would be a perfect time for Andrea to call me." Sure enough, the phone rang. But it wasn't Andrea on the other line, it was one of our DIY friends Claire.  She was calling me to tell me that her neighbor had just put out on the curb a beautiful antique writing desk hutch and that I should come by and grab it.  Claire is one of the few people who has seen our new parlor and she has a very good sense of what we are trying to do.  I really, really was in no mood to hop in the car and drive the few blocks to pick up and haul furniture, no matter how nice.  Well she convinced me enough to at least take a look at it, which I did, and it was really better than she described it.

Tyrone, the elderly man throwing it out remembers seeing his mother sit down to write letters at this desk.  It had been in the family for a long time and now his children live far away and didn't care to have it.  It was hard for him to put a "Free" sign on it but that's what he did. Claire saw, called and here I was looking at this piece that had very little damage to it. She noticed a letter stuck behind one of the drawers, showed it to Tyrone, whose expression changed.  It was a letter from his brother who died "quite a while ago".  He quietly went back inside and I never saw him after that.

We stood around to talk some more, which I encouraged, because I was getting tired just thinking about moving this thing and somehow magically wished it would just fly over into our parlor.  Claire devised that it could fit in her car, if we were careful, and drop it off at the house. 

Yes I spent money on this. I paid a young guy, on his way to Occupy Oakland camp, $10 to help me carry it up the stairs and into the parlor. I consulted my sister to get a few tips on it and cleaned it gently and found a couple of stamps hidden in the back.

So what is it?

It is a Antique Governor Winthrop Secretary Desk
Finial on top, Double glass door hutch w/ 2 shelves, Drop front desk w/ cubby holes and drawers,
4 Serpentine drawers, and Ball and Claw feet.

It is from the 20s-40s.  The style is timeless and is a mix as most things are.  sheraton, chippendale, federal, adams, all styles were borrowed.

Named after John Winthrop (12 January 1587/8[1] – 26 March 1649) who was a wealthy English Puritan lawyer, and one of the leading figures in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony,  the first major settlement in New England after Plymouth  Colony. Winthrop led the first large wave of migrants from
England in 1630, and served as governor for 12 of the colony's first 20 years of existence. His writings and vision of the colony as a Puritan "city upon a hill" dominated New England colonial development, influencing the government and religion of neighboring colonies.

As it so happens we are going to Boston in less than a month and staying in a hotel across the street from John Winthrop's grave!!!!  Cue Twilight Zone theme song. lol

However, Gov. Winthrop has been recalled from office and we have renamed the piece "the Claire Writing Desk" in honor of a friend who thought of us when she saw it.

3 Days in January Part 2 Bedroom Wall

Whilst I let the tub dry, I tackled a part of the master bedroom that always bothered us.  The walls in here are made up of old gypsum with painted over wallpaper that was showing signs of peeling and degradation.

The entire room is also not insulated and I suspected there may be a few holes in the siding as well.  So while Andrea was with her folks eating steak and drinking martinis, I attack the wall with a velvet glove.

After carefully walling off part of the room with plastic sheeting, I began removing the old gypsum.  You can see what's behind door #1 and the accompanying greenish, vintage wallpaper.

Actually the interior siding walls looked pretty good for being 100 years or so.  This part of the house is not original to the 1898 structure and most likely was added in the early 1900-1925.  The studs were nice and dry and showed no rot.  There was a very long weed branch that had broken through a small hole and grew inside the wall until it touched the ceiling!

I added some construction paper and then insulation to the repair areas.  Put up drywall, taped and spackled everything just in time to go pick Andrea up from the airport.  I was pretty exhausted but rallied to finish priming and painting the nice new walls.   I will probably need another 3 days to finish the rest of the room.

3 days in January Part 1 the Tub

January started off pretty tough with the plumbing project.  As I recovered a bit from this, my wife plans a visit to her parents for 3 days.  It would be a good opportunity to work on those other time-based projects we've been putting off.  We will be heading to Boston to visit a friend in about a month so I knew that would be an ideal time to take a break from the house.

The tub: Same one when we moved in.  It has 3 big chips in it and looked pretty beaten up.  After careful discussion, we thought we would try the cheaper, easier method of re-glazing the tub ourselves.  For about $22, you can purchase a can of special enamel paint for the tub, follow the instructions and in 3 days viola! new tub.  I was skeptical a bit about it but let's try it and see.

At the same time Andrea was flying over California, I cleaned the tub with DSP, let it dry and then went over the entire area with a steel brush. 

I then mixed and applied the paint using a regular brush.  Waited a few hours and then applied a 2nd coat.  Dry time needed is 72 hours and the results were better than we expected.  Andrea brought home adhesive bath stickers and suddenly we had a brand new looking tub.  It just shines!