Archive for ‘I’m All A-Twitterpated’

May 25, 2018

Soooo much better

by Janie Jones

The Spud comes home tomorrow and by working up until yesterday I was able to meet my living room reno deadline.  Sort of.

I did run out of time and energy to finish the window trim and a little bit of baseboard trim, and there are a few touch ups needed.  But I can live with that a while because in every way the living room looks sooo much better and like home.

Unfortunately, I am not as pleased with the paint color as I thought I’d be.  I really went round and round with color swatches.  I taped them up to the wall in various areas of the living room trying to decide which I liked better.  I wanted something grey with a subtle warm green tone hoping it would downplay the blue tones in the drapes.  In dim natural light it is fine and picks up the greyish tones in the drapes like I wanted.  Unfortunately the lighting mostly makes it look greyish mint green and I feel that color clashes with the drapes.

Strangely enough, the color gives me the impression of being old and tired instead of fresh and chic.   Perhaps because, I have recently realized, the color is very much the same color as the area rug I had for many years until the death of my landlady and my years of pseudo homelessness.  As much as I didn’t want to go with tones of blue in my living room and dining room, looking at this new paint color actually makes me wish my walls were more of a color match to the drapes.

Oh, man, I hate it when I like things that go against the plan.  But this is a fresh “new” house and a fresh “new” phase in my life.  Much of the furniture is new, and I think maybe it is good to go down a different color palette route.  So I’m going to live with it a while and see if it grows on me, but I’m pretty sure eventually I’ll want to change it.  While that distresses the penny pincher in me, at least I only will need one gallon and re-painting the wall only will not take long.

Silly Janie.  This is where I have to laugh at myself.  Even though I am not thrilled with the color of the walls, I love the wallpaper texture.  I makes the room feel so much more elegant, hiding the flaws in the wall and the painted cheap wood paneling.  I finally dug out my art and hung the prints up in the living room and dining room, and it gives the house such a feeling of homey-ness and completion.  I do like it a lot over all.

So, without further a-do, here’s photos:

BEFORE

 

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AFTER

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May 14, 2018

Maybe I missed my calling

by Janie Jones

Perhaps I should have been an interior designer.  I really do love shopping for paint and wallpaper and furniture.

I don’t particularly like painting, hanging wallpaper and paying for furniture, but hell, if you’re an interior designer that’s what lackeys and clients are for, right?

Unfortunately, I’m my own interior designer, lackey and client.

I have spent the last several weeks chipping away at the living room reno.  I am getting close to being done.  The wallpaper went up this weekend.  It took waaaaaay longer than I anticipated and there was a lot more waste trying to match the pattern than I expected, so that was a little bit frustrating.  But, man.  I am getting really excited.  It is looking soooo awesome.

My house was built in 1919 and keeps whispering “Art Nouveau” to me.  Any design purists out there will probably roll over in their graves as I say this, but I have a hard time distinguishing the difference between art nouveau and art deco (which I guess came a little later than art nouveau and is more in keeping with the era my house was built), and both styles are really appealing to me lately.  So, I’m sort of mish-mashing them together and picking some things to give a nod to both design eras.

Case in point.  My wallpaper is an anaglypta style with a relief pattern very reminiscent of the swirls and lines of art nouveau/art deco.  I have picked out a semi-gloss, smokey grey-green to paint over it, which I see in a lot of period appropriate designs and I think will tie together nicely with my funny aquamarine/silver velvet drapes, grey patterned rugs and green-grey upholstered furniture.  I wanted to buy these really cool light switch and outlet covers that screamed art deco, but to outfit the house, which doesn’t really have all that many, would have cost several hundred dollars.  Eeek!  So, plain white it is.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances I think I will be finished by next Sunday.  The Spud returns for the summer on May 26, and I set myself the challenge to have the living room done before she comes.  So, nothing like finishing in the 11th hour.

 

March 24, 2018

Before and After

by Janie Jones

Hello blog friends!  I have been meaning to write this post for a few days now, but various things kept getting in the way.  Anyway, this is now the part where I bombard you all with dodgy photos of my dining room re-do.

This is what it looked like the day I bought my house:

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Can you spot the Rupert?

That, my friends is emerald green carpet.  A lot of emerald green carpet.  All over the main floor of the house and stairs.  In its heyday it was probably a fairly nice medium to long pile.  It has seen, I’m pretty sure, at least 30 years of wear and was now matted down to the point of being nearly a Berber.  You could also tell where previous owners had furniture placed by the different fade marks.

You can’t much tell in the photo, but the baseboards and crown molding (original by the way) were smudged in more than one spot by previous ineptly executed paint jobs.  Furthermore, along the crown molding different color stains were used for different parts of the molding.

So very stylish indeed.  I am not even going to comment on the ugly drapes on the window which don’t match the ugly drapes on the patio door in the adjacent wall.

I borrowed some young burly-man might (two 20 something college guys of my acquaintance), filled a cooler with bottles of craft beer and had a carpet-tearing-up party.

Then my dining room looked like this:

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Yes my friends.  That is original 1 inch maple floor boards some yahoo had splattered white paint all over when the ceiling was glitter popcorned probably circa 1970, give or take decade.  Now, I’m no home reno expert.  Probably when I leave this house the next people will curse my decorating and remodeling choices.  But, I never understand why someone would do this to a beautiful hardwood floor.  Stain it, paint it or cover it, but don’t totally deface it.

Anyway.  Better this than nasty carpet.  This can be fixed.  And finally, last fall, it was transformed in to the beautiful butterfly it was waiting to be:

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As you can see, I actually had all the first floor floors done at the same time (except for the kitchen, which will be a much later project).  Aren’t they beautiful?

Except the massively annoying contractor who did the floors did not stain it the color I told him I wanted.  I gave him a half empty stain can of the same stain used upstairs that I wanted him to match so he had no excuse.  And he put up toe kicks in a totally different color stain from what he used on the floor (also not the color I wanted).

I would have made him re-do it all, but when I hired him at the end of September, I told him I wanted the job done by Thanksgiving so I could bring in furniture and decorate for the holidays.  He finished at 6pm on the day before Thanksgiving.  So, if I wanted it redone I would have had to either skip having a functional living room and dining room for the holidays or pack everything back up after the first of the year and deal with another round of dust and fumes and not being able to get to my kitchen or bathroom.  I could fill a month’s worth of blog posts complaining about contractors, let me tell you.

BUT.  I am trying to put that behind me.  Despite them not doing what I really wanted, the floors still look about a million times better than they did when they had that hideous old green carpet on them.  So, I am satisfied, if not tickled pink.

The dining room then sat basically empty except for a new rug and a card table with a mismatch of chairs.  I wanted to repaint the walls.  And after a long back and forth with myself, I also decided to just paint the baseboards and crown molding instead of trying to sand it down (to get rid of the old paint sploches) and re-stain it all to a matching color.  There are probably a lot of fixer-uppers out their rolling over in their graves when I say I painted 100 year old wood white.  I really felt bad doing it myself.  I normally think that is a sacrilege.  But it makes the room look so much lighter, brighter, cleaner and bigger.  So, as much as I felt naughty doing it, I really like the result.

The walls got a creamy not-quite-white-with-the-barest-hint-of-yellow paint.  Which again, I think is bright, light, clean and welcoming.  I really wanted a rich mossy color velvet drape, but I simply couldn’t find anything in my price range, so I settled on a pale grey.  Turns out, the pale grey looks more like aquamarine when it is dark.  So I almost sent them back.  But, in the end, they were such a good price, and I probably wouldn’t even be able to make drapes from raw fabric for less money, so they stayed.

Once the all the painting was done, I went to work on building china cabinets (which despite being very low budget I think they look pretty good) and refinishing my new budget bargain dining room table and chairs.

The table originally looked like this:

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Unfortunately, you get what you pay for.  It’s not very well made, but as anything I liked was at least $300 more and out of my budget, I decided to try a little cosmetic upgrade.  I didn’t want a white table base, and the country-esque look isn’t my style.  So off to the hardware store I went and for about $35 I did a faux mercury glass finish on the base and re-stained the table surface.

I used a new stain/poly product I’ve never worked with before, and I am not totally thrilled with the end result on the table surface.  It went on really gloopy and was thicker and stickier than other separate stains and polyurethanes I’ve used on projects in the past.  So, when it dried there was a lot of inconsistencies in the color finish and in the texture.  I don’t know if that is a product flaw or operator error due to inexperience.  But perhaps when the weather is nice I can take it outside and hit it with a super fine grit sandpaper and try again.  However, the faux mercury glass finish on the base really pleased me.  It’s delicate, so it may not hold up over time, but hopefully I won’t need to use this cheap-ass table for too may years anyway.

This is the end result:

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The final phase of the project was putting together the new chairs.  I have always wanted upholstered dining room chairs, but they were either out of my budget or totally impractical (as in when my daughter was young).  I found a really good deal I could get coupled with coupons on some grey velvet upholstered chairs.  The legs were wood and painted a really strange metallic color, but hey, I had extra stain, so I just lickity-split sanded and re-stained them to match the surface of the table.

Now, I have put together a lot of bargain basement furniture over the years of stretching every nickel to make a dime.  But I tell you, these chairs were a real bitch to put together.  The problem being you had to screw in the back piece to the base at a strange angle and you couldn’t see if the holes were lining up and the stupid Allen wrench was hard to turn in the tiny corner you were working in.  Gah.  Leif came upon me struggling to get them put together.  I was supposed to have him over for dinner and I really wanted to eat in my new dining room at my new table with the new chairs.  So he lent his hand.  It even took him an hour to screw in 24 bolts to put three chairs together.

But lo and behold.  It was finally all done:

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And, look at that!  The chair fabric is almost the same color as the drapes I thought about sending back!

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Hello Rupert.

 

I do still plan to do a few more things.  But I am out of money.  I absolutely hate the ceiling fan.  So eventually I want to get a new one.  Also, I want to put faux tin tiles on the ceiling to hide the glittery popcorn treatment.  And, I have extra drapes to transform into valances, which I will do at some point, but I still don’t have my sewing table put together so that last finishing touch can sit on the back burner.

Still, the room looks done and now I feel so very elegant.  Even with my cheap, low quality furniture.  I can sit in my living room and look across the way and think, “Gosh, when did I get so posh!”

Now I just have to keep up with vacuuming all the dog hair off the upholstery.

Thanks for visiting!

March 9, 2018

Where are little cats X, Y and Z when you need ’em?

by Janie Jones

I had meant to use some of my winter holiday where I had 16 consecutive days off of work to get some real stuff done around my house.

As it happened, I did very little besides sofa surf and eat way too much.  Then I spent much of January and February feeling really poorly.  The best physicians and specialists Big City can afford were all about giving me this pill or that pill but no one really was telling me what was causing me to feel poorly.  It is a bit of a pickle, as it is very likely it is a combo of things, but I don’t like to just take drugs that mask symptoms.  I’d much prefer to nail down the problem and work on something to actually fix the problem(s) causing the symptoms.

Anyway, I digress.  This post is not meant to be about my health.  Instead, it’s about me trying to manage some positive changes in my environment.

So,  on Thanksgiving eve the floor contractors sort of finished the job.  I quickly put some furniture in place to make the living and dining room areas usable and went Christmas decorating crazy.  Then, as I mentioned above, everything else came to a grinding halt in the wake of holiday revelry and relaxation.

Sounds lovely, no?  But in actuality, this meant that a large pile of boxes (large as in floor to ceiling covering a 6×8 foot area, or the majority of my basement except a walkway around the pile from the stairs to the spare bedroom, the pantry closet and the laundry room and a narrow area just wide enough for my exercise machine) has languished unpacked.

This is perhaps not a critical issue, but I do use my basement every day for exercising.  Leif will use the spare bedroom when he visits and of course I need to do laundry weekly or so.  So it happens that I am constantly reminded of what a disaster it is downstairs.

Now, if you dear readers have not yet discerned from many years of perusing my drivel, I am a bit of an organization freak.  I have been dubbed “Just-so Janie” and it is some how physically painful for me to be in an ugly, messy environment.

Not like I’m some feng shui freak, but chaos and disorder and dark and dingy do make me feel a little anxious, cranky and sap my energy and enthusiasm.  So perhaps a little part of my aforementioned health issues might be in some part a small measure of the emotional drain associated with the mess in my basement.

The problem with the basement was exacerbated by The Plan.  The Plan being the organized way to deal with the unpacking.  See, it didn’t make sense to unpack all that stuff which belongs mostly to the dining room and kitchen until the remodel of the dining room was complete.  What’s more, there was a lot of crap in the kitchen cupboards that needed to go in the basement pantry closet (tools, remodeling supplies, cases of beer/soda, extra canned goods, paper towels and Ziploc bags, you know stuff you tend to buy in large quantities or are big and bulky) that I couldn’t move downstairs until downstairs was cleaned out.  And there was a large number of boxes of extra kitchen stuff stacked on the open soffits above the cupboards that couldn’t be unpacked until the extra stuff in the cupboards was moved.  If you too are a neat freak I’m sure you’ll understand my pickle.

Well, a few weeks ago I finally got motivated enough to paint the dining room.  Then I built the new china cabinets.  But the basement mess felt so big and so deep and so tall I didn’t know quite how I’d move it at all.

In the end I took two vacation days off from work and, in a truly Seussian fashion, yesterday, the first day off, I pulled everything out of the kitchen that didn’t belong there.   This included the boxes filled with my extra kitchen items (I have a problem.  I collect Way.  To.  Much.  Kitchen. Stuff) which I unpacked.  By the end of the day I had a contractor 33 gallon trash bag full of newspaper that had cushioned my cherished possessions, an immense pile of empty cardboard boxes, and, naturally, crap everywhere.

The mess is daunting, and I’m not done.  There’s still about a dozen boxes in the basement of china and decorative glassware and specialty kitchen crockery.  The pile of cardboard and wrappings is still growing.  I feel like I need one of those clean up cars belonging to the Cat in the Hat.

 

cat in the hat clean up car

Image from The Cat In the Hat, by Dr. Seuss

 

But it was rather thrilling to excavate beautiful things I haven’t seen or used in 4+ years.  I can’t explain my joy at once again seeing my collection of antique green glass dishes and my special occasion china, my favorite wine glasses with the raised bumblebee motif, and my unbelievably insane collection of bowls of all sizes.  I did a little happy dance around the pile of empty boxes.

I am really excited to have all my cherished possessions on display and available for use again.  Plus, I have a new dining room table and some elegant velvet upholstered chairs that have languished in their shipping boxes since late October waiting for the dining room to be ready for their debut.

So much more work, but so much more ultimately thrilling than going to the tropics for spring break.

Back to work!!!

July 4, 2016

Change of Address

by Janie Jones

Well, blogosphere. Here it is.

As my loyal blog friends know, the free blog site hosted by WordPress.com has just changed too much.  And, as I’ve been threatening to do, I moved.

*Queue melodramatic soundtrack*

It has been a time of great trial and tribulation.  First I sought a different free blog site provider.  And I absolutely love using blog.com, when it works. I especially love the look I can get with the customization tools. Unfortunately, I just have too many problems with my visitors not being able to access this site.

So, I have made the difficult decision to move, again. If you have been trying to follow me at my blog.com site or hoping I’d re-appear here, please look for me at my new blog home. Just think of it as Janie 3.0.

http://janiejonesgreatwhitenorth.net/

I will continue to monitor this site for a little while in case visitors have trouble accessing me at my new digs.  Please let me know if you can’t find me, either by commenting here or by email at janiejones.greatwhitenorth@gmail.com.

Thanks for all the years of support and friendship!

November 1, 2015

I freakin’ killed it!

by Janie Jones

I’ve been feeling pretty shredded lately.  The whole school thing, as you all are aware, is really wearing on me.  Thursday though, was the designated day to take the graduate school entrance exam, the GRE.

I have not really been dreading the exam, but I have been so beaten down from the rigors of studying that I had started to contemplate if I was really cut out for graduate school, or if I should just declare myself unfit and give up.  It has been so overwhelming that, though I don’t doubt I’m smart enough, I doubt whether or not I have the physical ability to perform under these stressful conditions.

I paid a not inconsiderable amount of money to take this exam, and I had no time or energy to prepare.  I went in Thursday morning mostly worried I was wasting money I didn’t have because I’d be so strung out I’d bomb the test.  When I wasn’t worried about failing and wasting money, I was mostly numb and moving like I was some automaton.

Apparently cheating on these exams is a huge problem.  So security getting in to sit the exam was tighter than that for getting on an airplane or entering a government building.  You had to hand write an affidavit swearing you would follow a bunch of rules, you had to lock all your possessions in a locker the test facility provided.  You could not bring anything in except your clothes, which had to have all the pockets turned out, sleeves and pant legs were inspected and no watch or any other type of electronic device was permitted.  Then you were scanned with a metal detector and photographed.  Once you were “cleared” you could not leave the building without forfeiting your exam.  If you had to use the toilet, you had to go through the whole process again.

But, despite the drama of checking in, the first bits of the test, writing analysis and verbal reasoning, were almost fun.  It was like a logic puzzle, which I like.  The maths were hard, which scared me, and honestly I had to just guess on a whole lot of the questions.  And, near the end of the test (3 hours) I began to get tired and that began to erode my enjoyment and confidence in the process.

When the test was over I got a preliminary score on the verbal reasoning and math sections.  But there was no explanation of what the numbers meant, so I walked off feeling unsure and worried.  In about two weeks I should have the grade back from my writing analysis so I hoped that when they would forward my score for that there would be some formal announcement of my final score and what it means.

Of course couldn’t stop thinking about it.  And, while I sat here eating my breakfast and contemplating the mountain of homework before me, I thought perhaps I might dig about a bit on the ol’ web and see if there’s some explanation somewhere on the GRE website about how the tests are scored to give me some insight on my preliminary results.

So, if memory serves, I got a 167 on the verbal reasoning and a 142 on the math portion.  According to the GRE websites these numbers are based on a maximum possible value of 170 points.

Which means I scored a 98% on the verbal skills and 83% on the math!!!

Apparently when the final report is sent to me I will be ranked with the mass of other people taking the exam over the last couple years and told what percentile I fall into.  So, I still don’t entirely know how smart, or dumb, I might be in comparison with the rest of the graduate school bound masses, but I will be doing a happy dance just to know that despite all the self-doubt and worry I have at least answered 98% of the verbal reasoning questions correctly.  And, considering my math disabilities, 83% on that portion makes me very happy too.

I just might feel like I can finish this semester on a high note.

September 19, 2015

Love is in the water

by Janie Jones

It occurred to me that I forgot to share a very important update in the wake of Constitution Day.

I’m sorry if you’ve all been on tenterhooks with anticipation to know the outcome of my fish experiment.

So last week Thursday I got to genetics lab and found that Verda and Rudy didn’t spawn.

*sad face*

But apparently odds for a single couple spawning aren’t that stellar.  Out of all the different classes doing this project there were 60 something “fish couples” and only 12 produced baby fish.

I ended up having a pretty cool Genetics lab anyway.  We got to look at the baby fish (called larva, apparently) under these special microscopes.  You can see fish larva with the naked eye, but they are super tiny, think smaller than the size of an eyelash.  Mostly they are clear, but you can see some of their skeletal and muscular system which give that appearance of a very fine, small, black eyelash.  However, under the microscope you can see all the details.  You could see their eyes and fins move and you could see their gills flap.  If you were looking at a fish that had inherited the fluorescent genes, you could put on a special light and see the colors glow.  It was cool.

As my couple didn’t couple, I had to pick from some fish belonging to other students.  So I picked a purple to wild type cross to look at under the scope.  I reasoned that, because it is thought that the purple fish are actually that color because they get a red transgene and a blue transgene that sort of combine to form an intermediate color (thinking back to your color wheel from your art class days, red+blue=purple, right?),  if you cross a purple fish with a natural wild type fish, in theory, you shouldn’t get any purple fish because, due to the nature of genetic inheritance, your purple parent fish can only pass on one blue gene or one red gene per offspring.  For the same reason you won’t expect any wild type fish, because the transgene is believed to be dominant over the wild type, or normal color, gene.  So every egg gets one one wild type gene from the wild type parent and one color transgene from the purple parent, either red or blue, that will mask or dominate over the wild type gene.

This couple only produced three babies.  But seeing as we were looking at tiny larva, they all looked the same at first.  While it is not impossible to end up with three that all look the same, I couldn’t see any real color at all.  I was hoping to find a nice combination of red and blue fish.

And, guess what?  There was one red, one blue and one wild type.

An exciting curiosity.  While I got both colors, I also got an unexpected wild type.

It seems as though we have to write a little research paper about our fish experiment.  Because this couple only had three babies, it’s not really enough to judge accurately what inheritance patterns are present.  And, there is that errant wild type larva.  It turns out that the professor had two tanks of other purple to wild type crosses she spawned the night before, she’s putting them aside for me and I can use those progeny, too, which will hopefully give me a larger pool of progeny to base a paper on.

Biology is so cool.  This is why I put up with all the school crap.

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