Preparing for Bath Remodels and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare

In this house full of accumulated stuff, I thought there’d be nothing so rare as an empty cabinet, but now I have two empty vanity cabinets plus an empty medicine cabinet. The occasion? — bathroom remodel starts next week.

Empty medicine cabinet

Medicine cabinet with 3-way mirror — it was handy, but hulking.

This poor old cabinet is coming apart, but I’ll keep the glass shelves long enough to see if they might be useful to someone. I’ve been diligently sorting out what’s still usable, what’s recyclable, what’s never-used and can be donated, and what must be discarded, all the while trying to keep track of what I’m keeping.

Just to keep myself entertained, I held a “Goofy Stuff I Found” contest — here are the winners.

— Most prolific find — safety pins. Nearly all these came from one drawer in the dressing-table. I think they’ve been breeding in there. The first runner up on most prolific: match books. There were twelve. Two were empty. (?) Next would be the eight manicure scissors (Bob’s) and at least that many nail clippers (ok, some were mine). We must have had a fear of not being able to keep our nails short after the revolution.

Many many found safety pins

Apparently, I am very interested in safety (at least in pins).

— The oldest finds  — Flouride gel, expired 2/1989.  Prescription, expired 5/1998. SO last century. Luckily, collection of expired medication is no longer a once-a-year event, and I can drop these off with a bag of others I’ve set aside.

The oldest things found in the medicine cabinet

I’m trying to dispose of things responsibly, but it isn’t always easy. I ended up with a small grocery bag of trash, and a LOT of stuff I need to use up. That includes what I cleaned out of another cabinet a while back, posted here.

On the topic of throwing things away, quoting a comment on an Apartment Therapy blog from last week, “There is no away.”  –Good to remember.


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A New Retaining Wall, and Two Weekly Photo Challenges (Morning and Fun)

I thought this morning might be the last for my old retaining wall, but it turns out I’ll have it until Monday.

Old Retaining Wall made of railroad ties

Here’s my “before” — the old wall, sadly, long past its expiration date.

It’s been a happy home for termites, chipmunks, ants, spiders, and probably lots of other critters, but I’m finally giving in and getting it replaced. Years ago, when we moved here, we said, “That retaining wall needs attention.” But there were other things, like health, that needed attention more. The retaining wall didn’t (quite) fall down, so there it still is.

As for the demolition? — Here’s what arrived this afternoon…

Dumpster gets backed up the hill into the driveway

Here comes the dumpster. I hate to see things going to the landfill, but in this case, there’s no choice.

I have two more remodeling projects stacked behind this one. Is it going to be fun getting through the next few weeks?  Maybe — stay tuned!  Meanwhile, I’m planning some sorting-out days to keep me busy while I listen to the drumbeat of timbers falling (thunk) into the dumpster.

Have you ever had your own dumpster?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenges: Morning and Fun

Surprise Lilies, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

Here’s a favorite flower that I just can’t seem to grow in Georgia. In the midwest we called them “surprise lilies” aka hardy amarylis.  Here’s a close-up —

Surprise Lilies/Hardy Amarylis

Surprise lilies, photo taken last week on a trip home to Northwest Missouri

And what’s so narrow about surprise lilies? You judge —

Surprise Lilies/ Hardy Amarylis

This clump is just beginning to bloom. And, they are fast growers. When we walked by the following day most of the new stems had shot up to the height of the old blooms.

Look Ma, no leaves. The foliage comes up in early spring and dies down shortly after, all about the time spring bulbs bloom. Then, surprise, in July or August the narrow flower stems pop up.

One reason I can’t grow them is that I can hardly ever find them for sale. But even when I think I have, I plant them and they never come up (and that’s no surprise any more, since I’ve tried several times). To me they’re an heirloom plant, a childhood memory and symbol of home.

I can’t complain too much, since right now I have a backyard full of phlox and four o’clocks and black-eyed susans, but a few surprise lilies in the mix would be comforting. Like the peonies and lilacs I got from my mother and grandmother, they don’t grow well here, and they’re now a potent memory of the yard I had in Kansas City. And, speaking of hoarding (which I hadn’t got around to mentioning yet), that yard was full of plants I hoarded, er, collected, all my life. I need to remember that even though I had to move on, the plants-of-my-life are still going/growing strong in yards all over the midwest, and I can still drop by and enjoy them.

Are you missing some favorite plants?

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Finishing Touches, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Cherry on Top

I never have enough excuses to share my photos from Home Tours, so I’m happy to post some of these finishing touches for the Cherry on Top theme: “a little enhancement that makes a good thing better.”

On the Modern Atlanta Homes tour, some style their homes with striking vignettes or floral arrangements. Here are some from last year’s tour…

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour - floral

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour - floral

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour 2015

Some have quirky touches in the kids’ rooms …

O for Octopus at the Modern Atlanta homes tour

O is for Octopus alphabet wall decal, and watch out, here comes a matching 3D octo-window…

Modern Atlanta homes tour 2014

Some have one touch of vintage to set off a spare ultra-modern interior…

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour 2015 - vintage typewriter

Vintage typewriter and…

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour 2015 Phone Booth

How would you like to have your own phone booth? (Could this be Clark Kent’s house?)

Meanwhile, the cherry-on-top for me this week was taking an afternoon for serious paper-decluttering. Think four bags shredded plus two large trash-bags ready for the recycle bin. The end may not be near, but it’s nearer.

What made your good week even better?

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Cherry on Top

Buying a New Air Conditioner, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

I usually spend so much time snarled in the details of decision-making that it takes months to decide on a major purchase, but this time I had to be quick. On July 4 weekend, one of the hottest of the summer, my upstairs air conditioner uttered a mighty “thunk” and died.

Death was not entirely unexpected (but timing could definitely have been better). The old furnace and a/c were original to the house, which made them 37 years old. I’m surprised they made it this long, but a good maintenance plan helped.

Old AC-Furnace unit lurks in the attic

Here’s part of the old unit, lurking in the attic, disconnected and ready to leave.

I’d been hoping they’d last until I’m ready to move out. They were so large that I couldn’t imagine how they’d get them out of the attic, but as Sam would say, “these guys are trained professionals.” It all came down in pieces.

Furnace and A/C pieces are down

Old Furnace and AC unit come down the attic stair

Later I saw this part out in the driveway – I think it looks like a robot heart. See the aorta? But then, I’ve been watching The Iron Giant and Big Hero Six, so everything looks like a giant-robot-part to me.

Ductwork looks like a Robot Heart

I’m lucky the house has zoned systems, so the unit downstairs still worked. I moved downstairs and slept on the couch for two weeks until the new one was installed.

The old upstairs unit was noisy and friendly. I would hear it think about coming on, clink and groan a little, then run through it’s cycle. The new one is distant and serene, whisper quiet, and a little like the ambient hum of the Starship Enterprise. On the bright side, I no longer need to get a Star Trek White Noise Sleep Machine (“Effective as a Vulcan nerve pinch”).

New attic furnace and air conditioner 'system'

Here it sits, crouching in the attic amid that muscular and shiny ductwork. Now I get to feel virtuous about its energy-efficiency.

 At least when it comes time to sell the house, it’ll be a desirable detail on the list of upgrades. Meanwhile, I can move back upstairs and sleep in a bed, lulled to sleep by the ambient hum of… oh dear, could there be a warp engine in my attic?

Oh yes, and the new system is smart. It emails me acknowledgement when I change the settings on the thermostat. It wants to talk to my phone, but I haven’t let the phone know that yet.

What does your A/C sound like? And, do you let it talk to your phone?


More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

And, after some investigation on Youtube (where you can download hours of the sound) here’s the Enterprise…


Battlestar Galactica’s Cylon Base Stars are noisier, but you can get that sound too.


Before and After in the Laundry Room, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites

Am I late posting the photo challenge Opposite? Yes, but life is hectic. Maybe it’s time to call yet another opposite and blog about this small project instead of the big one I’m working on now.

Here’s my laundry room in the throes of change:

Laundry Room during paint job

My new appliances are covered while the old rest-of-the-room gets an update. I used this as a warm-up project – getting ready for the big one – a bathroom remodel.

Here’s my “before” photo with the old washer and dryer, bought when we moved here in the mid-1990s. Unfortunately there’s no angle without the ceiling light glare on the cabinets.

Laundry room "before"

Let me guess, you’re wondering “blue paint, what was she thinking?”

All the cabinets in this house are dark.  I had these painted as a test. If they hold up well, I’ll know I can have the kitchen cabinets painted.

The first step was getting a new washer and dryer (thank you Georgia, for a tax-free weekend for energy efficient appliances). The old ones were thunking and groaning their way to end-of-life.

Laundry room project "during"

New appliances, old cabinets ready for their update.

I like the top-loading washer with a glass lid because I can look in to see what’s really happening. For example, is it using more than 2 cups of water? (usually not – we’re talking mega-water-saver here) The only problem is, the new smart appliances are smarter than I am. If they have a problem, they don’t even talk to me about it – they tell my phone. On the bright side, they do play happy little tunes to say they’re finished with their cycle and, presumably, were glad to serve me.

Here’s my “after” photo — with a finished paint job, plus new molding and new cabinet hardware. And, goodbye blue, hello neutral walls. Another plus, the walls are the same as the adjacent breakfast room, so there’s consistency, not to mention fewer paint cans to store.

Laundry room "after"

Lest you think the outside of the cabinets looks a little blah — in the interest of opposites, there’s still an explosion of color inside the cabinets.

Clean hoarding: Laundry cabinets insideI feel the need to apologize for having all these plastic containers, especially in the midst of Plastic-Free July, but I’m still using up the hoarded cleaning supplies from a decade ago (previous post on clean hoarding).

Before and after, old v. new, inside v. outside, neutrals v. color, it’s still just a laundry room, but it does feel newer and cleaner, and gives me a sense of progress.

How about it – am I alone on this, or are your appliances smarter than you are?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites






Sustainability, “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” at the High Museum, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

Here’s to sustainability in sneakerdom: the undulating wave-like curves on this ocean-inspired sneaker are threads made from reclaimed, recycled plastic ocean waste. The Ocean Plastic Program’s goal is to end plastic pollution of the oceans.

Adidas/Parley for the Ocean sneaker - High Museum 'Rise of Sneaker Culture'

Prototype sneaker: Adidas, in partnership with Parley for the Oceans, and industrial designer Alexander Taylor ( Retail availability 2016)

There’s a lot more to see in “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Though it’s a mostly boy-centric show,  I still found things of interest — like these silver moon-boots…

Moon Boot inspired sneaker - The Rise of Sneaker Culture at the High Museum, Atlanta

Sneaker moon boots! (well, sorta)

2014:   100 pairs were created in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing, and released on July 20 at 4:18 pm, the exact time of the landing of the lunar module in 1969. This sneaker sold for $196.90 to honor the date.
GE, Android Homme, and JackThreads collaborated on the design, using GE materials, including GE’s silicone rubber (as in original moon-walk boots) .

Puma and Undefeated, Clyde Gametime Gold "The Rise of Sneaker Culture" - High Museum, Atlanta

Still shiny — Christian Louboutain Roller-Boat.

2012. Gold pony-skin uppers with studs, for men who “treat shoes very much as objects, as collectors’ items.”

And while we’re still on in the realm of gold, let’s segue to sports…

Clyde Gametime Gold - "The Rise of Sneaker Culture" - High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Puma and Undefeated, Clyde Gametime Gold, 2012

Puma archive – these are an homage to the gold medal winners of the US Olympic basketball team.

Next, here’s an early pair of lady-shoes (yes I know I’ve already complained that there’s not much here for women).

Dominion Rubber Company Fleetfoot, 1925 - "The Rise of Sneaker Culture" High Museum of Art, Atlanta GA

For the ladies: Dominion Rubber Company Fleetfoot, c. 1925

The apology here is that, “there were still concerns that women’s participation in athletics would detract from their femininity.” Hence the high heel. *sigh*   Still, it’s a unique show and well worth a visit if you live in the Atlanta area — on view through August 14, 2016.

Now for more thoughts on shoes and sustainability. If I google “average number of shoes a person owns”  the consensus from scads of articles seems to be “about 19 or 20,” at least for women. In view of that pair above I’m guessing the reason we have so many is that we’re still looking for some that are comfortable.

I’ve been reading The Boomer Burden, Dealing with your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff, by Julie Hall. This morning, among sad facts like “Americans use 14 billion plastic shopping bags annually” (could that be true?) I read, “The average American buys 6.7 pairs of shoes a year.” Hmm, I am not innocent. I bought a new pair of sandals on sale last fall, and I’ve been staring hard at the soles of my walking shoes and wishing to replace them.

Now I’m off to count my shoes. I must have some I can donate.

How many pairs of shoes are in your closet?


More on The Rise of Sneaker Culture – at the High Museum, Atlanta until August 14 2016

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