Thursday, April 28, 2011

One vine day

A few weeks ago, we got some rhizomes in the mail. Hubs, my personal homebrew concierge, decided to grow his own hops. Hops are what give beer aroma and that nice little kick of bitter flavor. And we're about to have a ton.

Right now, we just have two rhizomes sprouting up - one at the back of our garage and one at the foot of the deck. We chose these spots for their nearly full-sun exposure and because I want nothing more than to not have to paint the back of that garage.

Hops get super huge and love to climb, so soon we'll have to string up some trellises for them. Shouldn't be long before we have cascading hops (beer joke, ba dum ching?) floating over our our heads!

Think of it as wisteria for beer snobs. 

Iowa's not ideal for hops, but if we have enough Hubs might make an experimental brew. A local brewery makes an all-Iowa IPA, so it can be done!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

All the desk's a stage

I don't have awesome taste in music. If you play me some amazing new band all the kids are listening to, I'll probably like it but I'm not likely to take the next step and buy the album or roadtrip to their concert. My playlists are rife with one-hit wonders, 80s country songs and monster ballads. My favorite genre of music is karaoke-able.

And so, I'd like to present my vision for future workspaces to you. This is beyond co-working and light-years ahead of telecommuting. It's the future.

Karaoke offices.

Do I have the logistics all mapped out? Do I know the effect on the bottom line? No and no, though based on pure anecdotal evidence, I can say the efficiency of Alexsons raises significantly when Pandora gets in a karaoke mood and that karaoke-ness increased ten-fold when I got an office with a door and walls. Ergo, all hypothesis point to this being a totally awesome idea.

Join me in this revolution! You know you wanna.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fun Old Fashion Family Easter

I'm channeling my inner-Sparky and hosting our first Big Family Holiday in Our House this weekend! Hubs' parents and brothers are road-tripping out here for what is sure to be an awesome time.

I've got Easter baskets ready, a menu full of awesomeness and bowling on Easter Eve is going to catch on big time. Just wait and see!

I also bought my weight in Cadbury Eggs before seeing this life-changing recipe.

Have a lovely weekend and please pray for us and our house with one bathroom.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I don't want to be right

Not only do I have the past-times of a granny, I seem to have picked up the decorating indulgences of a weathered old sea captain.

This little crustacean is on his way to me right now, via Kelly from Tearing Up Houses.

I felt a deep spiritual connection to this brass lobster. 

I think brass lobsters are my spirit animal. That's a thing, right?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Old soul

I made up a game for you guys. It's called "Me or the Little Old Lady Down the Street?"

Ready to play?

OK, first clue: Hobbies include knitting, gardening and baking.


Next, we have: pulled a scarf over her hair in the parking lot to avoid rain-soaked locks.


Final question: Her ideal evening includes watching Wheel of Fortune AND Fraiser AND falling asleep in a rocking chair.

Answer guessed it - it's me.

Thanks for playing, you whipper snappers.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Schoolin' the stools

Remember our ugly hand-me-down bar stools?

Yes. A screen grab of the YouTube tour. Call me lazy. 

Hunter green pleather and cheap bamboo combined to make what might possibly me the ugliest bar stools in town.

Well, two coats of Kilz, three of Martha Stewart's creepy Metallic Bone paint (seriously, Martha!) and one Target shower curtain later, we have these:

Three updated stools and two attention-seeking cats.

In the full-bar shot above, you can also see some of the new decor, including a chalkboard/clock mount Hubs made over the weekend. It might be hard to tell, but the clock and keg taps are chrome, so the gray of the stools really works.
These stools were our first reupholstering job (if you can call remove staples, tracing a circle and reapplying staples "reupholstering") and I'm smitten with the results. 

What magical transformations have you made with a staple gun?

Net Profit: Basement Edition

So, was it worth it?

Costs, tangible/intangible:
  • Three pairs of lady pants, ruined forever or until paint splatters become cool again.
  • 32 total calls to Jimmy Johns, approximate cost: $500, approximate weight: 96 pounds of sub-y goodness.
  • Two injuries requiring band aids, for him.
  • Zero injuries requiring hospital trips
  • 60 sheets of drywall
  • 700 feet of flooring used
  • 1000 feet of flooring bought
  • 15 nights ending with someone crying, yelling "I quit!" or otherwise storming upstairs
  • Eight venti frappucinos to fuels the final push to completion, for her
  • 18 hours = the longest single workday
  • $15,000 total construction investment (mostly paid already because we are dolla' bill rockstars)
  • $0 paid by insurance (yes, we had water coverage, but it didn't matter because that only applies if there is a sewer backup or the sump pump fails)
  • 234 days from flood to finishing
Revenue, tangible/intangible:
  • Wiring knowledge, for him
  • Non-creepy laundry room, for her (I know, it's really sexist. But I'm the laundry do-er, he's the dish do-er)
  • Reduced fear of nail guns, for her
  • Floor laying, drywalling, mudding, trim laying knowledge for all
  • Boost in disposable income for the Jimmy John's guy who works Wednesday nights
  • Private water closet for two cats with questionable hygiene
  • 700 square feet of "meh" basement transformed into "holy crap, you guys built this?" basement
  • Countless nights of sound sleeping thanks to lifetime guarantee on waterproofing system and windows
  • $400 refunded for returning extra supplies
  • $8 for selling books we'll never read again
  • Seven pounds, lost (and two pairs of college jeans that fit once again!)
  • Two Foursquare mayorships of hardware stores
An ugly journey, but worth it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Leaf my rocker alone

The little lounge of our basement is starting to fill up. We've added a DIY pendant light, two homemade end tables, one vintage photo and one sexy LazyBoy since you've last stopped by.

The pendant light was assembled with a cheap-o lighting kit from Home Depot, a drum shade from Target and relatively few cuss words. My only issue was that when used right side up, the CFL bulb I used stuck out the bottom of the drum shade. So, I flipped the shade over, which solved that problem and lent a little retro pizazz (oh yeah, pizazz, folks) to the fixture.

The old timey photo is actually my grandparent's high school class on their senior trip to D.C. I'm not saying any students look hung over, or that any teachers look highly peeved, but I am saying it looks like a fun trip.

While I'm loving all the little additions, these two are the ones I dote on the most. A chair to beat all chairs and a super sweet Iowa pillow.

Hubs made the end table pictured here and its twin out of oak plywood scraps left over from the bar top. Then, we primed them and slapped on a little Martha Stewart Precious Metals paint in bone (creepy) and voila! End tables that shimmer far more than this snapshot lets on.

It's not perfect, I definitely need to come up with something to tie the crazy pattern on the chair to the subtle, soothing tones of the rug. Maybe yellow pillows. Maybe punchy art above the fireplace. Maybe a glass of wine so I can stop being a person who gets all sweaty when her comfy chair doesn't fit perfectly with a luxe, smooshy rug.

Option three it is.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Yesterday afternoon at 4:30, I got an e-mail from Hubs.

He wanted to cut down a tree.

The tree's been on its way out for the past year, it's small and our neighbor was looking to split the cost ($300) of a wood chipper rental this weekend. With rain and snow expected later this week, that meant the tree had to go last night.

So, at 6:00, we lumberjacked.

And when I say "we," I mean we had the whole crew:

 Hubs and the neighbor.
 Trip, the foreman of all our projects, and Niles, the cat with ADD.

And me, in mismatched socks and no work shoes. I'm pretty sure this is how the pros do it.

The guys started by taking off the big limbs, which was pretty easy. Things got trickier when it came to the trunk. So, they did what any self-respecting lumberjack would do - they Googled.

The tree fell in the exact opposite direction we had planned, but it didn't hit anything and I did a full-on sweep of that neighbors' yard to remove any trace of the foliage carnage that had taken place.

Also, I'm bringing them brownies this weekend, so I can't imagine anyone would have any ill will here.

The tree parts are now piled up neatly in our front yard, awaiting the chipper on Friday.

It's amazing how not different the "after" is. The tree didn't have leaves last year, so it was pretty see-through and now that it's gone, I don't even miss it. Also, it was too dark for a decent after picture.

Oh, and the indestructible manicure I got Sunday? Totally held up to me hauling branches and twigs for two hours. If that's not a proper test, I don't know what is! I'm a shellac convert.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ain't no stopping us!

Since we officially finished construction, we've been physically unable to sit still for more than an hour at a time. Constant work and progress clearly screwed with our brains, making Hubs and myself crave constant doing.

Here's a few projects we tackled this weekend:

  • Hubs built two end tables for the basement couch with oak scraps we had left over from the bar.
  • We painted those and put them in their new home.
  • We spray painted the hideous bamboo bar stools and re-upholstered them.
  • Hubs built a clock back/chalk board for the bar.
  • I weeded everything! EVERYTHING.
  • We mulched the deck gardens. Bags of cypress mulch were just $1.17 at Home Depot, so we had to get in on that!
  • I planted some sweet little ranuculous flowers out back.
  • Made serious office organization headway. The office housed nearly everything that used to be in our basement and it was so full we couldn't even walk through it. Now, just a few piles of Goodwill stuff to take and craft supplies to put away.
  • Hit up a birthday party.
  • Had a little spa day, thanks to a birthday gift from Hubs' parents. I even got a supposedly indestructible manicure using shellac nail polish. I'm trying to be nice to these scruffy mitts now that the hard work is done.
  • Got donuts. Twice.
I've got photos coming of the projects for you. The basement has come a long way since the Before and After video I posted last week!

P.S. Hubs just e-mailed me to let me know that he's going in on a wood chipper rental with our neighbor this weekend. That means the dead tree in our front yard is coming down tonight (in like, 30 minutes, actually) and the mangy weed trees out back are coming down, too. Fun surprise, huh?

DIY+ impulsiveness =impromptu lumberjacks

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

An offer I couldn't refuse

Last night, a Boy Scout came to my door, selling tickets to the troop's annual fundraiser. I bought two because it's a house rule that we buy anything from little kids going door-to-door.

I mean, I remember having to sell worthless junk to neighbors (Re-enactment: Looking down, sporting a ten-years-too-late Dorthy Hamil haircut and swooshy pants because for the entire year of fourth grade I refused to wear jeans. "Hi, ummmmm. I'm Ali and uh, would you like to buy some wrapping paper for um, for Henry School? Ummmm. It's $12 a roll." Giggle. Gap-toothed smile. Extend hand for cold, hard cash.) and the painful awkwardness of it all. I feel for these kids.

I'm also fairly certain that today's tech-savvy youth are building some kind of crowd-sourced map of the 'hood, with alerts based on what houses are creepy, who gives the best Halloween candy, and who buys wreaths and popcorn and miles from local school kids. I just don't want to get egged. Not that I've ever seen a house on my street get egged, but I like to mitigate my risks.

Anyway, after I paid the Boy Scout my $10, I checked out the ticket for this wondrous affair.

The ticket stated there would be all I cared to eat pancakes, which is cool enough.

Also, there would be ham - all I cared to eat. Naturally.

And all the applesauce I could handle. Because what goes better with ham and pancakes, people? NOTHING.

This is going to be the best night ever.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Basement Boogie: Before and After

Watch as our basement goes from "Meh" to "Holy crap, get me the wet vac" to "I'll never make it out alive" to "Holy crap, it's perfect" in under four minutes:

Is the video a little nerdy? Yes.

Did three months spent underground give me liscence to post a highly dorky video on my blog? You betcha.

In case you can't view the video, here are a few stills to give you an idea of how far we've come.

The fireplace area when we first bought the house:
The fireplace after the basement got wet:
The fireplace area today:
The bar area when we first moved in:

The bar area when things got soggy:

The bar today:

 The stair room when we first bought the house:

The stair room today:

 You like?


Having poured blood, sweat and tears into this little hideaway, we're pretty pleased with the results. There are a few finishing touches we need to add, but for now - we're happy to kick back by the fire and toast our amazing new basement.

Linked: Mad Skills Monday, Between Naps on the Porch, The DIY Showoff, Made by You Mondays, Amaze Me Mondays
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