Monday, August 9, 2010

Slight Rearrangement

I hate to clean, but I love being the hostess. So my house suddenly transforms from blechiness into beauty when I know I have people coming over.

We had some folks over for the First Cowboys Pre-Season game last night. I had to move the furniture around to make enough room in here. Nothing major, but here it is:

So that more people could see the tv, I pulled the love seat further out from the wall and put the end table on the opposite side. There's a big storage tub behind the love seat and it's making due as a table for the extra dining chair.
Moving the love seat out narrowed the passage into the seating area, so it's angled back a little. Not a big deal, but it feels different in here.  :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yard Work

I've been tootling around in the yard a lot lately. I removed all the black widow hidey-hole cacti on the side of the house yesterday.
I recently found myself with $20, so off I went to Home Depot. Here's what I came up with today:
I set the last of my stones, then dug a shallow trench around them all. Next I poured decomposed granite in the trench. It has a nice golden sparkle to it. What's left of the mulch from last year is sun-bleached and sparse. A new layer of black mulch (in the skinny part of the yard) really jazzed it up a notch. Click here to see what it looked like last week.
The small space between the path and the corner river rocks was just screaming to be a flower bed. The front yard faces East and gets hours upon hours of direct sunlight. Plant requirements: low-lying, minimal-water, 6+ hours of sun. It was slim pickins. I bought stonecrop (perennial) and moss roses (annual.)
I used the rest of the mulch on the larger part of the yard- sort of made a flowerbed at the front around my rock rose sproutlings. I probably need three more bags to complete the yard. I'll need to get some edging to border the path so the granite doesn't wash away, and I need a few more river rocks to stop the erosion problem. All in all, it's really starting to come together.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy House-iversary!

We became home owners about a year ago! Woo Hoo!
My posts have been fewer and further between, but I guess that comes with the territory. There's less to report the longer you live somewhere.

I think today I'll just do some (overdue) updates:

Master Bathroom
They finally finished the shower. I bought new bath mats to celebrate: muted turquoisey colors- super soft. Someday I'll paint in there- it amazes me how much paint can change a room.

Eventually I want to get some shallow cabinets to set into the wall behind the door (given that there's not any plumbing/wiring issues in there.) I'd like to do a floor to ceiling built-in cabinet, and an additional "medicine cabinet" on the short part over the counter. Nothing fancy, no mirrors, just a simple wood cabinet. I'll probably paint it whatever color we do on the walls. It's a small room and I don't want it to feel crowded. The bathroom door really gets in the way- as does the closet door, which is in the hall just out of view- plus our bedroom door opens into the same area. We want to replace the bath and closet doors with pocket doors- the kind that slide into the wall. But we'll only do that if we end up staying here a long time, seeing as building the walls out to allow for door clearance will come with a hefty price tag.

In the months of negotiating our shower repair, they offered us a new faucet for the kitchen. We decided on this extra tall curvy one- the spray head pulls out of the spout so my 8 year old can conveniently fill the dog bowl... Went with a similar style in the built in soap pump- even though we don't use it.

Master Bedroom
We haven't purchased bedroom furniture yet. All our foldables are stored in laundry baskets. This works rather well, but tends to look unsightly when I'm showing off my house. This week I'd had enough of the clutter in there...

 I did some rearranging- now it feels more like a bedroom than an attic. I finally hung our painting, put away the excess music equipment, and did the best I could with the odds and ends.

Here's what the yard looked like a year ago.

We were having an issue with the rain- it puddles up big time where the front steps meet the walkway- made it difficult to get into the house during a storm. 
 My solution was to lay a stone path from the porch to the higher part of the walk, next to where I park. I got the stones for free from the mountains where my mother lives. Laying them was excruciating! I think I need some pea gravel to lay between them.

The puddle that forms on the sidewalk is often very muddy, due to the erosion of my yard. Elsewhere in the neighborhood there are river rocks to help divert water, so I set about laying some near our walkway. Appears to be helping, though we could use a few more.

Our entire yard could really use another round of mulch and some flowers to spruce it up, but other than that it looks pretty good. Animals seem to like it...
Here's some itty, bitty, little sparrow hatchlings. I snapped the pic in a rare momma-less moment. I was terrified she'd swoop in and destroy me any second. This is the little stick tree in the back by our driveway. There's also a sparrow family living under the one of the front eaves of the house. I found one of their babies in our yard last month, squawking for his mommy.

This is a HUGE cocoon in my rose bush.  Our front porch has been covered in chrysalises all month. We've also noticed the return of the hummingbirds.

As for unwelcome guests, we've got a rather large population of these guys:
Black Widows*.

Just thinking about it gives me the willies- but I was gardening last month and felt something on my arm. I looked over, and up near my shoulder there was a big black widow. She was promptly flung from my body and pulverized with a rock, but it started a fear in me I've never known. Thankfully, she did not bite me. I immediately set to researching them and have since found their creepy little nests in numerous locations around the exterior of the Winkler. They will all be sought out and destroyed. 

*No, this is not a photo I took. Anyone who takes the time to get out the camera rather than KILL KILL KILL is a lunatic. Though healthy adults rarely die due to the bite (usually just a lengthy illness,) for little kids and old folks it can be fatal. And there's a chance you might not even feel the bite. Scary!

Well, other than a few minor bumps in the road, it's been a great year (house-wise.) Our Warranty just ended- but thankfully I filed the last of our claims last month. Looks like we're on our own now, but I'm up for the challenge. Long live the Winkler!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sink and Shower

A long post, sorry...

In November I reported to, umm, "WarrantyCo." that the wall in my master bathroom was somehow being damaged by my super-awesome-giant shower. They asked if the doors on the shower worked. I said yes, and they responded that the damage must be my own fault for showering with the door open. Gee... I'm supposed to close the doors when I shower? Idiots. Of course I close the door when I shower.

A few weeks later, the door fell off the track and onto me while I was showering. I called WarrantyCo. again and they sent a glass guy out to fix it. He noticed the deteriorating drywall next to my shower. I told him what I'd been told. He said "No way. That's a leak." So he called WarrantyCo.and of course they listened to him.

Then they started sending various vendors out: plumbers, glass guys, the builder, etc. None of them actually did anything other than look at it with their eyeballs.until the end of March... They finally decided to take the shower wall out and see what was going on.It was discovered that the walls were never caulked to the base- something that should have been done at installation. The water has just been channeling straight onto my wall, eating it up for almost a year now.

They tried to get the old shower walls out of the stairs, but got the back panel stuck. It wouldn't fit down the stairs. Then they suggested replacing my fiberglass surround with ceramic tile- an option I hate due to the impossibility of cleaning grout with absurdly hard water and the complete lack of shower shelves. My fiberglass shower had 6 shelves. The tile one would only have a soap rack. Boo!

Anyway, the tile man came to take measurements and I chatted him up. The two of us had a brilliant idea- we turned the too-big panel on it's side, which made it short enough for us (me and a little old man) to get it down the stairs and out of the house.So then they had to make a special order to get my new fiberglass shower in stock. It arrived yesterday morning. The boys opened up the box, and GUESS WHAT? It was broken. I laughed. When it rains, it pours, I guess.

I've been complaining about my shower leak for over four months. My master bathroom hasn't had a shower in it for a couple of weeks now (it's wood beams, insulation, and the back side of siding in there.) And now we have to wait another week for another new shower to be shipped in from Wisconsin.

To make up for this nonsense, the company that installs the shower- the one that did it wrong the first time, couldn't figure out how to get the old one down the stairs, and showed up with a broken shower- well, they called me up apologizing again. But this time, they told me to go to the Moen website and pick out a brand new kitchen faucet.

Well, okay then! My sink basin is stainless steel, so we've chosen that finish for the faucet. I picked one that has a high arc- meaning the dog bowl won't be difficult to get out of the sink once it's full of water. In fact, the arc is so high, I think it will be visible from the living room over the bar height counter-top. But I don't really care.

Our sink is a 4 hole variety. Typically, there's the faucet, a hot knob, a cold knob, and a sprayer. The new faucet's spout detaches and is actually the sprayer. The knobs are on the faucet as well, but it has a base that will cover the knob holes. That leaves us with one more sink hole to fill. We're going with a soap pump.

The website only has a few options. We've whittled it down to 2. The website doesn't provide the dimensions for the pumps, but one of them looks taller. I like it because it is tall, like the faucet. The other option looks shorter, but has a curved dispensing spout, like the curves of the faucet. What to do?

So, what do you think? Which should we go with, the taller, straight pump, or the shorter, curvier one?

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Dear Target,

Thank You!

When I bought my adorable placemats, I noticed target also had coordinating pillow covers for just $5 each. I only had ten bucks then, and I chose to get the placemats, but tonight I had some extra money in my pocket- and we all know how money HATES being in pockets and much prefers the company of more money in a cozy cash register drawer.

AND the pillow covers were on sale for $4 each. I scored 5 of those bad boys for the same price I would have paid to buy one decorative throw pillow. Score!

I have hated my couch's pillows since we bought the darned thing, and have been quite obsessive about the patterned side always facing the couch. I didn't want to look at it! But now I have 5 lovely "new" pillows!

We technically only have 4 couch pillows- and only 2 of my dining chairs had cushions. One of them got lost in the move, so I stuffed the remaining one inside one of my new covers. The only style of the cover I didn't buy was the striped one. It's my least favorite, but I may go back to get it for when I stumble across that missing dining cushion. Or maybe I'll buy a repeat of one of the solids- I don't know. I have a lot of bold blues and greens in the room. Another pattern might be too much. There is a solid tan option. I need advice. I know I'm bordering on over-kill. It just occurred to me that I could also buy some more to do dining cushions. Dining cushions are so rarely washable- and my kids wipe their hands all over them.

We always like to have bed pillows on our couch as well. My husband flat out refuses to sit on the couch unless we have company. He always lays down on it. We have a stack of blankets near the couch as well. And he stacks all the pillows under his head. It's Snuggle Central.

I want to find some inexpensive pillow shams for 2-4 bed pillows that match the covers I bought. Target's usually pretty good about carrying a pattern across departments- the floral pillow matches my placemats- but I didn't see any shams today. Keep an eye out for me!

Additionally, I bought a new utensil holder ($7 on the clearance end-cap) in my favorite color! The florescent lights give the counter a heavenly glow, and you know what? It is heavenly. Look at my lovely new utensil holder! How well it matches my Scentsy warmer and the frame on that adorable picture of my daughters!They also had a matching cookie jar for $7. I wanted it, but couldn't justify it, seeing as cookies these days come in their own resealable packages. I'm now sitting here trying to think up something I could store in a tall, narrow, air-tight kitchen container just so I can go buy it. And that just reinforces the fact that I don't need it. I'm also eye-balling a fabulous turquoise retro-styled metal breadbox. However, due to counter constraints, it would probably get tucked into the pantry. So why bother? OR I could put it on my "junk" counter, to shove the junk inside. My guests will think "what an awesome bread box" and I will think "thank goodness they can't see my big pile of junk!"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I got new placemats!

A lame thing to be excited about, but what can I say? I love them!

Target, if you were wondering. And I do believe I'll be going back for the coordinating polka-dot ones as well- whenever eight dollars finds its way into my pocketbook again.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Idea!

There's still a remote possibility, from my understanding, that we can stop the gravel company from digging a mine ACROSS THE STREET. (shudder...)
and you can help!

Contact the White House! ( And/Or any of the officials listed below.) It takes less than 5 minutes and just might make a difference!
Here's what you do:
-Click on the link above. Include your name and such, whatever required information they ask of you. Under "subject," choose non-policy, in the additional box, choose "other." Then leave a message.
-Say you have friends (or family, whatever the case may be) living in East Austin, and that the city is allowing TXI to put a 10-15 year gravel mine project in our residential area.
-If you feel up to it, you can also copy your message and send it to these guys, too. Again, it only takes a few minutes and has a massive amount of potential for us making an impact and getting the answers we need:
Texas Senator, Kirk Watson (Scroll down for the e-mail form.)
Texas House of Representatives, Dawnna Dukes
Texas House of Representatives, Eddie Rodriguez
Congressman Lloyd Doggett
Mayor Lee Leffingwell

-Here are some ideas for other things you might mention:
  • The land on which TXI intends to dig presently contains 2 graveyards and the historic Hunter's Mansion- which, I might add, is listed on the city's very own website as "an Austin Treasure." What was once a completely rural area now has many new subdivisions, a new elementary school, a new middle school (under construction), and a huge toll-way. It is no longer just fields and cow pasture ( although we do retain a bit of those.)
  • The area in question is less than a mile from the Colorado River.
  • Two, new, never before seen species have been discovered in the area- one plant and one animal.
  • The city denied a charitable organization the rights to the land, which they had wanted to use for building homes for low-income families.
  • TXI says they expect 200+ trucks to be going in and out of the area on a DAILY basis. The mine will be less than a mile from the neighborhood elementary school. Additionally, there are only two roads that come into my neighborhood, the same two roads that will be accessing the mine.
  • TXI has repeatedly failed to meet the city's requirements. Now, all of a sudden, it is rumored the city will be changing the requirements, lowering their standards so that TXI will get a passing grade.
  • Members of our community have been going to county court meetings for months and have walked away with very few of our questions answered.
-Ask if there are any further steps we can take. Then click the little box that says you would like a response.
-Takes less than 5 minutes and means so much to me. I"m hoping to just get some feedback on whether or not there is actually anything to be done about this mess. Thank you, thank you, thank you!