Tuesday, December 27, 2011

This is Why there is a Toilet in my Living Room

I had a bit of a breakdown yesterday. The fact that my parents are coming to visit in 3 weeks means I have just a few short work days left to get the house ready-ish before they get here. I don't think they realize that it's an active construction zone. I am pretty sure they are coming in part because my dad is a worrier and he wants to see the house. I hope it doesn't make him worry more. I got some very good advice from a friend (Miss N) who told me that I can't change whether or not my dad is going to worry. All I can do it tell him that I love my house, that it will eventually get done, that I am enjoying the process (most days), and then say, "Let's go see Austin!"

But in those few short work days, I will do what I can. Here's the list of to-dos before they arrive:

Finish painting the baseboards in the hall bath so the toilet, light fixture, and sink can be re-installed. The toilet tank has been sitting in my living room for months. It is not what I want my parents to see as soon as they walk into the house. Besides, I should really have a bathroom for them to use, so they don't have to walk through my bedroom to get to mine.

Finish painting the walls: prime and paint the living room, hallways, spare bedroom, and laundry room. The told me they'd buy me a washer and dryer for Christmas (yeah!) which I hope to pick up when they are here. They can't be installed until I get the laundry room painted. The spare bedroom needs to be done so they have somewhere to sleep. Ideally, I'd like to get all the baseboards done too, if for no other reason than I don't want them tripping over the 12' lengths of shoe molding that are sitting on the floor of the living/dining rooms. But I don't think that's going to happen.

Let's look at the progress on the bathroom so you can see why there is still a toilet in my living room. If you remember, the walls have been painted dove grey but there is still dark purple trim everywhere.

I sanded the baseboards and the lower half of the cabinet. I only did the bottom because the top half can be reached once the sink is in. But I was having a hard time getting the wood smooth, which was the goal--oil paint shows imperfections. The paint was super thick in places but lifting and peeling in others. I figured it would take way too long to get down to the bare wood with a palm sander.

I decided to purchase a non-toxic, biodegradable paint stripper I'd heard good things about on the blogs (soy-gel) and see if I could get down to the wood. I tested it on a short piece of molding next to the door. The stripper worked great, but I discovered that under all the paint, there was not one, but two layers of wood filler. I knew I wasn't going to be able to strip the wood down (in the bathroom) to where I could stain it because of all the imperfections, but who puts wood filler over such beautiful wood before painting?!? Now there is no way I'll ever be able to restore it--at least in the bathroom. I really hope that's not the case in other rooms. Anyhow, I decided it wasn't worth the effort to cover the floors with plastic, so the rest could be stripped. I went back to the palm sander with heavier sand paper. The bathroom is not very large but look at all the dust I made.

I am posting photos of dust. What is wrong with me?

After the baseboards get painted, shoe molding will need to be installed. But along the wall where the sink goes, there is a huge gap between the baseboards and the floor.

 It is so large that it would still be visible after the shoe molding is installed.

So P found a piece of wood that fit the hole and glued it in.

Then I primed everything.

Yesterday I got the first coat of oil paint on. I think I will do a second coat tonight. Then the shoe molding will be attached, and sink, light fixture and toilet can finally be put back. The upper cabinet, mirror and trim around the door and window will still need to be done, but at least there will be somewhere for my parents to pee and wash their hands.

I really do love my house. I think that once all the walls are painted, it won't look as scary to visitors. I'll leave you with the color palette I've chosen.

Blue: master bath, spare bedroom; Yellow: dining; Green: kitchen; Grey: hall bath;
White: living, halls, sewing room, master bedroom.
 All colors are from Benjamin Moore's historical colors collection. The only one here I haven't purchased yet is the mauve. I think I'll do the laundry room that color. It's the only red/pink in the collection. Everything else is too brick or too peach. Does it go with the other colors? What do you think? Maybe an orange/gold instead? Is this better?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Silly Sleeping Hat (Jester-Style)

I asked my mom what to get my dad for his birthday. She said he needed a sleeping hat. He usually wears thin flannel hats to bed alรก Scrooge to keep his head warm. They look a little like santa hats. She then told me I should make it silly looking because that would be good for her.

I set out looking for patterns for silly sleeping hats and stumbled across this post on how to make a child's sleeping hat out of an old t-shirt. It looked sufficiently silly so I adapted the pattern for an adult. Mom told me the width a one of Dad's current hats and I enlarged the pattern proportionately.

To do this I had to actually enter the scary mess that is my sewing room.

Maybe I should paint the baseboards so I can put all this stuff away.
I decided to make the outside from a green, striped, ribbed fabric and the inside from yellow fuzzy fleece so it would be really warm. First I cut out the green fabric.

Then the yellow fleece.

I serged the sides and top of both fabrics, one at a time.

This is what your lap looks like after serging fuzzy fleece fabric.

Then I stuffed the yellow inside the green, turned the whole thing inside-out and serged the bottom leaving about a two-inch hole.


I sewed the ends of the ... uh ... ends? points? alien antennae? ears? together so that one wouldn't get stuck down inside the other once the hat was turned right-side-in.

After turning it right-side-in I hand sewed the hole closed.

I decided to stitch around the edge to keep the ends from rolling.

Ta-da--the finished product. It looks a little like a pair of baby's pants. The end can be folded up as much as you want to get a snugger fit.

The ends can be tied in knots like the original child's version. Then it really looks silly. When the ends are down, it looks more like a jester's hat.

Ack! Those are really unflattering. What's with the popeye arms?!? And my nose isn't really that long. No more self portraits!

Here is a shot of my dad actually wearing the hat. Mom promised it wasn't staged--he was actually wearing it on his own--no coaxing necessary. Yeah!

Yup, silly.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Getting Closer to Having a Mirror, and Wall Update

I finished painting the bathroom mirror, except for the cubby lid which needs another coat. I really like how it turned out. You can't see the areas filled with wood putty at all.

Unfortunately the only studs on the wall where it should hang are on the very edges of the wall. I guess I'll have to make another trip to the Home de Pot and buy a hollow wall anchor. There is one hanger attached to the top center of the mirror. I wonder if this is enough? I could screw little eye bolts into the back and string a wire between them so I could hang it from two wall anchors instead of one ... but a) I don't really want to screw things into an antique, and b) it's a lot more work! I guess I'll see if I can find an anchor or toggle bolt that is rated to hold a lot of weight. In the meantime, I found this helpful video on how they work and how to install them.

In other house news, I realized I never posted photos of my painted kitchen and dining room. 

The color is Benjamin Moore's Hancock Green (HC-117). It has just a tiny bit too much yellow to be called mint green. It's really lovely and I am totally happy with it. 

You can see the kitchen isn't quite done. I need to buy baseboards to go into the nook (where the mini fridge is) so that I can move in the full size fridge. Ah, to have ice again. What a luxury.

Here's the dining room:
P is lending me the table and chairs so I can at least sit down while eating.

My unfinished settee--other than the P's loaner chairs, it's the only seating in the house.
The color is BM Windham Cream (HC-6). I really happy with this color too. As you can see in the above photo, the dark brown living room is yet to be painted, and there are still many, many sticks of shoe molding laying in the center of the room. Of course, the bathroom toilet has been sitting in the living room for months now, so why bother complaining about shoe molding. (*sigh*)

I found out today that my parents are coming to visit at the end of January. I better have at least the front bath baseboards painted, so the toilet and sink can be reinstalled, AND the spare room painted by then, so they have somewhere to sleep. I would like to have all the walls painted too. That means the living room, spare bedroom, front and back hallways and the laundry room. I'll have to wait and see how it goes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Restoring an Antique Mirror/Medicine Cabinet

I purchased this antique mirror/medicine cabinet from Craig's List--really it's a mirror with a cubby. It was exactly the right size for the master bath.

It will fit perfectly between the sconces.
The master bath is in the new part of the house. Eventually I hope to replace all the trim and finishes so the new part will look seamless with the old. That means anything "new" I purchase should be old, or at least a reproduction. I don't know the actual age of the mirror. The seller just said it was old, but the style seems to fit with my house even if it's not from the late twenties. If anyone recognizes the style or can pinpoint the age, let me know.

I'm po' so I can't afford nice antiques. The glass does show some signs of age, but it's still completely functional. I think it adds character. There were also a bunch of chips and gouges, but the price was right, so I bought it with the intent to restore it and paint it white.

Chip from the top corner. I need to sweep my deck.

Gouge in the lid and huge chip from the bottom corner.

I lightly sanded the whole piece and removed the screws and hinges attaching the lid to the cubby. I taped a piece of cardboard to the bottom with painters tape so I could build up the missing area on the bottom corner. I bought some wood filler and filled the gouges and chips.

Bottom corner.

Cubby lid.

Top corner.

After the putty dried, I sanded off the extra. The putty wasn't quite dry on the bottom corner and broke off the when I was sanding, so I put a smaller amount in, let it dry and repeated until the area was even with the wood.

The bottom corner viewed from below.

The bottom corner viewed from above.

The cubby lid.

The upper corner. Apologies for the blurry photo.

Then I put two coats of primer on the piece using a brush so I could get into the grooves. I decided to use white, high gloss spray paint instead of using a brush for the final coats because I didn't want brush strokes. But it's rained every day that I've actually had time to paint, so the mirror has been sitting on my living room floor for two weeks. The weather report shows rain all weekend, so it looks like it's going to be another week before this project is finished.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

I should have wiped the edges of the bowl before taking the picture.

I made these for Thanksgiving. I put them in the easy, but time consuming category. They are well worth the time though. Yum yum yum!

For pasta:
About 6 eggs
About 1/4 of a 5 lb bag of flour

For filling:
1 small to medium butternut squash (less than or equal to 2 lbs)
a bunch of fresh sage
8 cloves of garlic
a few tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
pine nuts
grated parmesan cheese

Put flour in a huge bowl or on rolling mat on the counter. Make a well in center. Crack in eggs. Beat eggs with a fork, then blend into flour until too stiff to use fork. Then knead with hands until well mixed. Dough should be soft but not sticky (or crumbly). If too sticky, add more flour. If too crumbly add another egg, or if you don't need that much liquid, add a little water. Form into ball, cover and put in fridge for at least an hour.

To make filling, peel squash, scoop out seeds and cut into cubes. Peel and mince or chop garlic. Toss squash with garlic and olive oil. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until soft. Chop a small handful of fresh sage. Mix into squash. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cut ball of dough into 5 or 6 slices. Then comes the fun part where you get to use machinery! I use the Pasta Queen. It's essentially the same as the machine my grandmother used and taught me how to make fresh pasta with. The ravioli press I bought at Williams Sonoma.


Flatten slice into round disk.


Put through pasta machine at the widest setting, which on my machine is 1. Then put it through at 2. I was always told to put it through each setting twice. I do it the first time (setting 1) but then I put it through subsequent settings just once. I skip setting 3 altogether and go straight to 4. I'm such a rebel. Finally I put it through at setting 5. I don't do 6 because it makes the dough so thin the dough tears.


Lay the dough over the ravioli press.

Push the mold lightly into the dough to make the pockets.If you get a small tear or two, just cut a piece of dough and patch it. If you get a lot of tears, you should probably stop the machine one setting early.


Patches for small tears.

Scoop a small amount of the filling into each pocket.

Fold the dough over (or lay another piece on top if your pieces are shorter).

Pat the dough flat. Then use a rolling pin to press the dough into the ravioli, er, press. I made these at P's house. I guess most single men don't own rolling pins. He doesn't, so I used a glass. It worked just fine.

Pull the extra dough that should have been cut from the edges. Save it. You'll use all the scraps to make another disk of dough.

Turn the ravioli press upside down and carefully push out each individual ravioli.

Voila! Wait. That's the wrong language. I guess I should say pronto!

The recipe makes this many plus a dozen that wouldn't fit on the piece of tin foil.

Once you are done, leave them out on the counter for awhile to dry out. Then put them into the freezer in a large zip lock bag. You can separate the layers with wax paper. When you are ready to cook them, dump them in a pot of boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes. They cook really fast. Drain and put into serving bowl.

Take about a dozen large sage leaves and a stick of butter and put in a frying pan over low to medium heat. Shake pan every so often. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until butter turns brown and gets little specks in it. Keep cooking until sage leaves get crispy, but not burned. Break up into bits with spatula.

Toast pine nuts. Toss pine nuts, sage brown butter and a handful of grated parmesan with ravioli in a large serving bowl. Enjoy!

p.s. If someone seems really interested in what you are doing...

The evil kitteh

...be very wary about turning your back. That little stinker jumped on the counter and bit into 6 or 7 finished ravioli. She couldn't have eaten just one? No, she had to sample a half dozen. Bad kitteh!