Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bronchitis Update

Thank you to everyone for your wishes for my recovery. Though you can still call me Coughy McPhlegmmy and I still tire easily I am feeling much, much better and was even able to work almost full days last week. And speaking of work, here's something weird. The office next to mine was discovered to have been infested with mold. Who knows how long the mold has been there or how it started but once it was discovered I was immediately relocated to an office on another floor. If the mold had actually been in my office? Would that be grounds for freaking out now?

The humidifier has been a great help and even the cat seems to like it. She seems calmed by it. And just let me say it before you do. I realize that people with chronic respiratory problems and allergies should not allow a cat on the bed but she's the boss so what am I going to do? If I lock her out, she'll just stand at the door all night, whining and crying and there'll be no sleeping, my immune system will be compromised from exhaustion and we'll be back where we started.

It is part of their evil plan for world domination.

I'm just happy to feel better.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Sister's New Kitchen

While you're patiently waiting for pictures of my new kitchen, I thought I'd share my sister's kitchen remodel. Her home is a modest post-war tract home in Sacramento. She (J) and her husband (G) wrangled over the plans for years before finally leaping into it last year. Here, in her own words, is the play by play:

Old Kitchen -
Absolutely no counter space, a few cabinet doors that wouldn’t stay closed and drawers that wouldn’t open. Notice the “custom” step G built for me so that I could wash dishes without hurting my back.The kitchen table stuck out in the middle of the room, and you don’t even see the chairs in this picture.

I did like the old Wedgewood range, but it took up too much room in a tiny kitchen and the oven wasn’t big enough to cook a large pizza.

I just kept putting off doing anything that would make it a little better because I knew the remodel was just around the corner. I was a scary step to take so it took 16 years to take it. It then took almost another year for the contractor to take his step. But finally we have...

The room is five feet longer. We ate up the old laundry area and moved the door to the side.

The view to the yard will be nicer when we put in the patio or deck or whatever we do next year. But we still can sit at the kitchen table and look at the roses or birds in the trees. The table is small, only 28”, but it’s enough for two people and sometimes a visiting cockatiel.

Plus, there is a ton of storage underneath.

The old kitchen had two windows, but because of a bad layout, we had to put the refrigerator in front of the bigger window. Now we have a nice big awning style window over the sink. It cranks open from the bottom and gives an unobstructed view of the yard. In this picture, you can see the crank extended in the bottom center of the window frame. It’s in the perfect location to whack the back of the faucet.

The contractor keeps coming up with ideas to fix the problem, but nothing satisfactory so far. I can make it work, but it is kind of irritating. G wants to put on another coat of stain before we attach the final hardware and I’m still looking for blinds. But it is a nice view.

I also like the Smart Divide sink. I wanted one big sink and G wanted a double sink so this is an excellent compromise.

In the old kitchen, G built a box step for me. The contractor is easily 6’5". When he came out to see the old kitchen, he kept tripping over my step. It was right there in the middle of the floor for all to see, but I guess his feet are so far away from his eyes that he never looks down. Anyway, cabinet guy came up with this nice little step that slides away under the cabinet. No more tripping. When the construction guys came to install it, they put it in upside down and thought it was a secret gun drawer.

Although it comes in handy for doing dishes, I don’t need it nearly as much because of my very first dishwasher.

I like the looks of it and the idea of it, but I still have quite figured out how to load it efficiently enough to use regularly. But it is pretty.

The only thing G wanted in the new kitchen was for the drawers to open and for water to come out of the refrigerator door. Now, every drawer opens and here is G’s new fridge.

I know it violates the sleek look we wanted in our modern kitchen, but it makes G so happy. He drinks a lot of water. Now, he always has cold filtered water without opening the door. It’s kind of mechanical, so you know he likes that and you don’t lose cold air when opening the door and pouring a glass of water. Yea for G!

I never really wanted a French door style but when I started looking, they didn’t come with water in the door. Now I find out it’s a good thing I didn’t want one to begin with. The freezer side is right up against the wall. In fact, the handle bangs the wall every time you open the freezer. Not ideal, but it hasn’t hurt anything yet. If we had the French door, I wouldn’t have been able to open it wide enough for it to be practical.

We have a similar problem with the horizontal handles on the cabinets. I was determined to have all handles horizontal. The construction guy tried to convince me that they are never installed that way and there might not be enough leverage to easily open the door. Hogwash! The one thing neither of us thought about was clearance. The back end of the handle rams into the cabinet around the refrigerator before the cabinet is fully open. Oops.

They thought of way to put special hinges on those doors so that they will swing out when they open, but apparently there are thousands of hinge options and they haven’t come up with just the right one yet. I think he’s been here four times. I’ve just decided to use that cabinet for all of the nice things that I rarely use. The Millennium Toasting Flutes now have a permanent home.

G only wanted two things in the new kitchen and I wanted everything, but the one thing I didn’t want to compromise away was the cork floor. I think it turned out pretty good. You never see the dirt, but you also have a hard time finding the big piece of cracker that fell to the floor until you step on it and hear the crunch. I’m always finding pictures in the pattern. Once, I found Osama Bin Laden, but of course, I lost him again.

There are some things that I think I would do differently. I like the look of my stove, but the top part under the grates scratches really easily and there are already some water spots I can’t remove.

Also, the range hood does nothing for me. I try not to think about it. I do like my 6x18 backsplash tiles, but I am sorry that I couldn’t come up with accent tiles.

Also, I bought the light fixture for the dining area on impulse. My first choice cost over $1400. I didn’t love it that much and I would have had to order it without seeing it first. That made me really uncomfortable, so that left whatever I could find in town. I stumbled on this one almost by accident. It actually satisfies the main criteria I had for the fixture. I wanted it small, with square glass shades that face down mounted on flat bars, but it is a little cheap looking up close and it’s actually brushed nickel instead of stainless steel, but for $149, it’s close enough.

One experiment that has been receiving good reviews was my little foray into painting techniques. I didn’t know what to do with the trim, so I bought saffron and chocolate. G built this flat fire rated door to the garage so that it mimicked the look of the cabinets and the glass patio door. I painted the trim saffron, let it dry, then painted over it with chocolate and used a whisk broom to scrape off most of it. I was just playing around when G saw it and made enthusiastic comments. G is rarely enthusiastic about this kind of stuff without me making him, so I decided to keep it. Now, almost everyone who sees it comments on it positively. It gives it texture. It doesn’t really look like real grain, but it does make MDF look more like real wood.

OK. I think the kitchen tour is complete. I’m overall very happy with it. More than one person at a time can actually work in there. Last weekend, G was making green beans, I was stuffing squash and Mom was slicing tomatoes all at the same time. Unheard of in the old kitchen, mostly because I wouldn't let anybody in there.

This is me now. That last line is true. I remembered when J knocked a glass jar full of cocoa powder on the floor during the making of Christmas Eve dinner. No one was allowed to help with that nasty clean up.

I don't miss the accent tile at all. I love the big green tile. Maybe accents would just clutter it?

I love her kitchen though I have yet to see it in person But the single thing that I really love (and wish I'd thought of for my own kitchen) is the slide-out under-sink step. I would love to have that extra height at my surprisingly uncomfortable farm sink.

I told J she should have kept her own blog but she insisted she didn't want to think about something to write all the time. She could have written about how the wooden boat G was building that had to be brought out of the garage and onto the yard every day. She could have written about the worker who admired the workmanship of the boat and instead of being flattered, G became suspicious that the worker might be considering making off with it. She could have written about how she'd ordered the stove almost a year before the construction started and how the store owner was kind of enough to keep it in his warehouse until she was ready for it. She might have written about how the counter-top was almost cut for a completely different sink, until she came home just in time to stop it. Or she might have written about her long search for the perfect tile. Or she might have written about the agonizing process of determining the new configuration of the kitchen and garage.

Maybe she'll blog about the new patio.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wooden Wallplates

Here are the switchplates and outlet covers we bought at Superior Moulding, all stained and nearly ready to go -

K plans to give them a little waxing today. It had been my plan to stain them myself, the one thing I could actually do. Then I came down with the bronchitis. Now I'm even more useless than before.

Once they're installed, it'll be almost like being done.

Except for the hundred other little details.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Design Around This

You know that Kohler commercial where the humorless American woman pulls a faucet from her bag and says to the pretentious German architect "Design a house around this" followed by three ominous piano notes?

Well, I dare the architect to design around this -

That's the latest addition to my bedroom. I've needed a humidifier for ages but resisted it. Who wants something so plastic and utilitarian in the bedroom? But I've been attacked by a vile respiratory infection and I can resist no more. So I dragged myself from my sick bed and made the short trip to Rite Aid. I had no idea how many choices would await me. In my mind, they were all the same, all served the same function, so I bought the one on sale. Twenty bucks for the Vicks "pediatric" model and I was on my way. I figured if that model was good enough for babies, it should be good enough for me.


Not only did it not produce steam, it sounded like a small jet engine. I guess they figured that babies, being babies, can sleep through most anything. Well, I can sleep through most anything too. But it was annoying nonetheless.

However, the failure to produce steam was more than annoying. At first, because I'm generous (or dim), I thought "well, maybe it's a super fine mist and I just don't see it." Then I thought the problem was that K had filled it with distilled water instead of regular water. My clothes steamer doesn't work with distilled water so maybe it was the same situation. The next night we tried regular water and that didn't work either. So K bravely returned the steamer and shopped for a new one, and not just at Rite Aid. He had the energy to drive all over town. Apparently, Vicks has the market cornered on humidifiers so he might as well have stayed at Rite Aid. Anyway, he came home with the "Ultrasonic" model for $60 (unaware that I had just dropped $150 on prescriptions. Stupid deductible.) I guess if you want steam with your humidifier, it's going to cost you an extra $40. Anyway, the new one is quiet, produces a lot of soft, cool mist and allows me to sleep through the night without succumbing to violent bronchial spasms.

I just wish it were lovely. But what do I have to complain about? My x-rays came back. I don't have pneumonia; I don't have TB; I don't have anything more menacing than bronchitis.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Idea Whose "Time" Has Come

I was just catching up on some blogs that are dedicated to Echo Park and through this one, Chicken Corner I learned about this one, The Echo Park Time Bank and it's companion site,

It's a simple concept. You put in an hour of service and you get an hour of service.

Why have I never heard of this? Time bartering. This is ideal. I've heard recession survival stories of people trading things like tutoring for house cleaning but I never knew how the parties connected.

Not that I have so much extra time or so many barter-able talents, but I must have something to share. And I really need my house cleaned.

Shooting Lions in The Park

What's with all the lions around Echo Park and Silver Lake? In my strolls around my home, I've noticed that there are an awful lot of lions around. They seem to guard houses of all sorts, from the porch of this Victorian:

to this daycare provider:

The kiddies there should feel well-protected. They are actually guarded by this batta-lion:

Here's a close-up:

Doesn't he look sincere? And vigilant? He would never have allowed this to happen.

This stubby pair will need to grow into their posts. They're almost like lions-in-training:

And this one, though emaciated,

is ready to defend to the death the driveway gate he guards. I think he could use a few more carbs.

These guys guard the side of a house, for when chain-link just isn't enough:

And if wrought iron and security bars aren't enough, there's always this guy:

I couldn't capture them all but this home had no fewer than a dozen lions throughout the yard:

Including this one, guarding from above:

This guy is always ready for the holidays:

The next two shots are the same home, protected both from without their fence and from within:

and as if that weren't enough, they have this yard grotto for extra-strength protection:

When I first saw this guy, he wore what appeared to be a cheese grater on his head. To my great regret, I did not have my camera at the time:

I found 7 kings of beasts in this photo:

Do you see them all? Go ahead, click on the photo and count.

This next homeowner decided to color in the eyes of his lions. But it kind of creeps me out, like when I see Roman statues with the colored eyes:

and it makes me kind of sad:

Thanks, lions. Thanks for looking after the 'hood.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

For the Studious Cow Collector

For anyone with an interest in learning more about cow creamers, I'd like to share of couple of resources I've discovered. The first is about the donation of 250 creamers to Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. It's called the Rice Cow Creamer Collection. Check it out.

Another great resource I just found is a website called
Craig’s Cow Creamers. According to Craig, he has over a thousand beauties! That really is a lot of Quake Hold!

Thinking I might visit the Rice collection, I once asked K if he thought I would ever have occasion to visit Indiana. He said "no." Just like that. A flat "no." He's probably right. It's a long way to travel to visit cow creamers and no offense to Indiana but . . . I don't see that vacation in my future.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Party 'til the Cows Come Home

And they have (come home). As the unpacking continues, last week I was able to get to the cows. And since Julia over at Hooked on Houses is having a Friday "What Are You Hooked On?" Party, I thought I’d let the cows join the party.

For anyone new to The House on Red Hill, I’m hooked on cow creamers. We buy one (or two) whenever we go on a trip. Or K buys one for me whenever he goes on a trip, and with his work he’s been on a lot of trips. So we have a lot of cows. 38 as I’ve just learned.

Before the cows went up, K had to build a couple of shelves.

We originally bought shelves from Ikea but the color was all wrong. Too pale. We thought they would work with the butcher block. Wrong. So K tried staining them. That didn’t work out and now they’re not returnable. Oh well. But shelves he built are perfect.

So the cows are unpacked and have finally come home. First I rounded them up on the counter . . .

And let them have a good stretch after being boxed up for six years . . .

Then everyone got a dose of Quake Hold on each hoof . . .

Then up they went. . .

It took me three evenings. That's a lot of Quake Hold.

There are black & white cows . . .

And a brown cow with a pink twin sister. . .

There are brown and cream cows with pink flowers painted on them . . .

There’s a whole set of cows with windmills painted on their sides. . .

Here’s an anomaly. She doesn’t hold cream. . .

Instead, she carries a set of salt and pepper shakers.

Here are my two tiniest cows, under the protective watch of big Mother Moose (or maybe that's Auntie Elk. I'm not up on all my North American ungulates) . . .

Before I can show off pictures of the completed kitchen there’s one tiny detail that needs to be completed. But it’s close. It’s all so very, very close.

So while you’re waiting, head over to Hooked on Houses and see what everyone else is hooked on.