27 April 2016

I Think I Can...

I Think I Can, Therefore I Can...

I've possibly mentioned before about a thousand times that the Texas house became beyond neglected while I was in Colorado. Apparently guys just don't see "stuff".

Eighteen months ago when I was in town I tackled the upstairs bathroom that 16 years ago we foolishly thought three kids could share. They did share but not without a fair amount of drama, most of which is still ongoing. Standards of cleanliness vary between the male and female children.

But anyway, the girls and I started stripping the original, very tired wallpaper and then after we were also very tired we gave up the stripping and just sealed the stuff. Over the last 16 years the wallpaper had become "one" with the  sheetrock underneath.

Original wallpaper.
Lovingly removed in 3" strips.

That paper around the mirror was NOT going to come off.  Once I came down from the chemical high from the oil based sealant, the Boy and I learned to texturize walls.

Wallpaper gone, walls textured
and painted. 
HUGE improvement.

YouTube is a wealth of information.
So are knowledgeable friends.

Then we painted. At some point a glass shower door was installed by the male inhabitants here. This was a very good thing since over the years, the knowledge of how and why to use a shower curtain had waxed and waned within my kiddo's heads.

Which gets me to this weeks project.
The geniuses that built this house used MDF baseboards everywhere, including the wet areas of the house. MDF is Medium Density Fibreboard which is supposedly a pressed wood product. I'm pretty sure the stuff in that bathroom was pressed paper. No matter the composition, once wet this stuff expands. And cracks.

The baseboards in all the bathrooms are cracked and peeling. Shower curtains and sink drains are NOT idiot-proof.

I neglected to take a pic of the upstairs trim but "fortunately" 
the downstairs bathroom trim has the same problem. 
Cracked, separating, peeling paint.
If you don't put the shower curtain in, 
or if you plug the sink, turn on the water 
and get in the shower, the bathroom will flood.

Yesterday I decided I could replace baseboards. Removing them should be a snap- cut the caulk line with an Exacto-knife then pry them off. With only 14 linear feet of wall space involved, this should take 20 minutes tops.

Four hours later I was done.

Builder Bob had installed the baseboards, putting the finish nails low to the subfloor, THEN installed the tiles. And grouted. And caulked. With the swelling over the years from water exposure, those baseboards were in there TIGHT.

No problem, I figured I could pry them out.  Forty minutes into the first 30" run on the first wall, I almost gave up. I figured I just wasn't strong enough.  That had to be the problem because the boards would NOT come out of their gap.

I took a break, ate lunch, regrouped. Decided I had to be strong enough, there was another problem.

That was when I discovered those very low- now below the level of the tile- nails that were holding the trim back. Aha! Those rats.  I couldn't pull them out but I could sneak the needle nose pliers down between the wall and the trim and twist those suckers out.

Like I said, four hours later the baseboards were gone. I was left with huge gaping holes between the floor and walls.

Like the wallpaper, the trim also came off in 3" strips. 
What a mess. 

I did not put the hammer through any walls, I did not crack the toilet or the bathtub and I did not have to make even one trip to the Emergency Room for stitches. So I consider that a win.

This morning I mixed up some grout that will not match even though the color name is the same. I've just resigned myself to that fact and am hoping it won't matter. I stuffed a whole box of grout into those gaps and am waiting for it all to dry. (And maybbbbeeeeee turn into the correct color? Nah. Won't happen.)

Was I using the correct tools? Wait? Fingers aren't the correct tools?
Do I care?? No....

Wiped the edges down, waiting for the haze to dry.
Yep, messed that wall up a little.

I've given the new baseboards a coat of enamel paint.  Tomorrow I will cut and nail and caulk.

Linen Enamel Paint. 
Probably the trim color for 90% of the houses in Sugar Land.

The moral of this story? If it isn't perfect it will still be an improvement on what was there.
If I think I can, then I probably can.
Project Sixty by Sixty was conceived with the idea that you are never too old to learn or try something new.


A BFI. (My friend Cherrilla taught me this term.  Short for Big F**king Idea.)

HGTV needs to hire me to be the Nicole Curtis of the "over 60 home remodeling" set. I could learn on the job how to do all this stuff that requires skill and practice but is NOT brain surgery.

I will need some hunky helpers, please.

Hopefully the finished project will be on next week's blog. Hopefully. 

21 April 2016

Another New Restaurant!

No. 63: A New Restaurant!

I've said it before and I'll say it again. In our house we 200% get stuck in a rut when it comes to eating out. One of us doesn't like change, leaving the area, anything unfamiliar.

So usually I have to depend on the kindness of friends to adventure out to new restaurants. 

And I did just that last week. 

Been trying to reconnect with a friend from junior high/senior high for a while. She doesn't live that far but we are both busy and it just hadn't happened. 

But finally! 

And we went some place new to both of us... Cedar Creek Bar and Grill. It's in the Heights area of Houston, an area near where I spent the first five years of my life. My grandmother lived in the Heights for years until she passed away at the age of 100. It was an area that went into decline but has since reimagined itself. I love that kind of story.

The sign says Austin, Texas but I promise we were in Houston. 

Cedar Creek is one of the four "Creek" restaurants owned by the same group. It's got a fabulous patio (but no dogs allowed-we aren't in Colorado-although there is  Onion Creek which does allow dogs outside) and a funky bar/restaurant inside. The sign says "Welcome to the Hill Country" even though the actual Hill Country is a good 100 miles away. But it's got that Austin vibe which is not a bad thing.

A great patio for lingering.

I had crab balls with chipotle dip, my friend had a sandwich. Food was good.

Me with Tricia....older, wiser and better looking. 

And my friend?
Tricia found me in 7th grade when I was as homely and awkward as a kid could get. Huge glasses. Short hair. (NOT a good look for me.) Braces. Shy.

How did she manage to see past this to want to be my friend? 

We had gone to different elementary schools so she was a whole new experience. I was so amazed that someone so fun and so crazy wanted to be friends with me. She opened me up to a whole new group of kids and a whole new kind of fun. I spent four years of my life practically living at her house. (Except when she was at mine.)

Tricia at my house learning to macrame.

And what happened? Why did we lose touch?
What do you think?
Boys.  (sigh)

One friend ran off with another's boy and there was a domino effect of girls switching guys and guys switching girls and I don't even really remember anymore exactly what happened but typical of girls that age....friendships were damaged. 


Years later there were apologies and water under the bridge and we all ended up getting ourselves guys that were more reliable (and not as likely to dump you for your best friend) and we realized that guys come and go but a true friendship weathers. 

So Tricia and I spent about 4 hours "having lunch". Such a fabulous afternoon. 

I hope we can do it again soon.

And if you need to "waste" away an afternoon chit chatting with someone dear, try one of the Creeks.

18 April 2016

Goals and Holes....

Goals to Make, Holes to Fill...

A follow up on the rug post from last week.

This kitty who is NEVER on the floor (she's afraid of Carlos)
has fallen in love with the new rug. 
Right here next to the chest is her new favorite spot. 

I commented at the end of the post that there had to be a lesson re: waiting for what you want and clearing out the old and leaving space for the new to fill in. 

In the 80s-boom time in the Houston area- I shared office space with a company called "Success". Ironically they closed a few years later but their mission was to help other businesses succeed. One of  the things they recommended was "Goals Class", a class to -duh- help you set goals. 

I am the WORST goal maker. I have a tendency to go with the flow, letting life carry me along. For the most part that has worked. Occasionally it bites me in the butt. That is somewhat the reason for my blog. Get me to make plans.   

I mean, I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. 

So a goals class was exactly what I needed. And while it seemed a little "Hoo Hoo" at the time, you know what? It worked. 


The main object of the class -pre computers at the time- was to create a Goals Notebook that covered all areas of your life. There was a chapter for your life goals, work goals, financial goals, housing goals. I guess you could do it all on Pinterest now.

The original Goals Notebook.
I could still live in a Moorish style house. 

In each chapter you were to focus exactly on what you wanted. Write it down, cut out a picture. Be specific. 

"I want to be rich" didn't fly. Fill out a deposit slip with exactly how much money you want in the bank. 

"Hoping for a nice reliable mate". Nope. What EXACTLY do you want/need in a spouse/partner? Write it down. Cut out a picture. 

Your ideal house? Find a picture. 

Your 2.3 children? Cut out family pics. 

The imaginary children I was going to have.

By being specific you know what you want and therefore can find it. Sounds so simplistic that it can't actually work. 

But let me tell you, I found my little goals notebook last year. Been stuck in a cabinet for 30+ years. Flipping through it was almost scary. 

The house I picked as ideal? Almost identical to the one I live in. 

There was a fur coat I wanted that I have. I can assure you when I cut out that picture a fur coat was as far from my realm of possibilities as a trip to outer space. I might as well have cut out a pic of the Hope Diamond.  

The 3 blonde imaginary children that I had a pic of? Well, they were all home together last week.

The amazing children I do have. 
(This was a while ago. Almost impossible to get a pic of the three of them together now.) 

I'm convinced this works. 

Hence the rug. I wanted it. I imagined it. It appeared. 

I've started a new goals notebook. Going old school, not on the computer.

A simplified version of the original notebook. 

And I'm dreaming big. Why not? It's all possible. 

05 April 2016

Holes are meant to be filled...


Holes are meant to be filled.

Blank spaces beg for stuff.

And I wanted a new rug.   Desperately.

The old rug.
 Lovely strong graphic pattern that coordinated with the dog. 
You have NO IDEA how difficult it was to clean.
Every single little hexagon had to be individually vacuumed. 

The budget does not allow for a new rug.

So I did the best I could. I got rid of the rug that I had grown to hate and left instead a big void in the living room.  Actually I moved a too small rug in to hold the furniture down but it looked silly. It needed a big rug.   There was a BIG empty space where the big rug should have been.

I bought a rug. An inexpensive one that "might" have worked.  A filler rug, as it were.
But it didn't work and it went back the same day.

So I lived with noisy tile floors and a tiny rug to anchor the furniture and waited.

Last week I was on my weekly Goodwill drop off run when what to my wondering eyes should appear but... a rug.

(I've been cleaning crap out of this house since I returned in December. Probably have taken five or six full car loads of stuff to Goodwill. I was going to have a garage sale but decided that just getting it out was more important.)

Anyway. As I pulled up to the drop off spot I looked over to the side and saw a huge rug rolled up. A Karastan label was on top. I unfurled it just a tiny and Wow! My colors. My design. If I had been shopping for a rug, this was one I would have chosen.

I grabbed an employee, hauled him out to the drive and said "How much?"

"Um, that rug hasn't been processed. Let me check. Meet me inside."

Once inside he gives me the bad news. The rug smells and is covered in dog fur. They will throw it away. Cannot sell it.

Wait!! I have a dog. I have a vacuum. Let's look at this baby.

Unrolled I see no stains, no holes but whew! Yes! it smells like wet dog.

I ask the price and he hesitates.
"24 what?"
"24 99?"
Another employee looks over and says "Certainly not 24hundred. How about 16?"
I'm still confused, unable to believe that I will walk out with an 8.5 x 11.5 Karastan rug for under $50.00. A quick Google confirms retail is close to $2400.00.

We finally agree on $24.99 and out I go with a beautiful, albeit stinky, rug.

I vacuum. I spray. I use spray rug cleaner.

Over the weekend we brought in the big guns-a rented steam cleaner from Home Depot.
Odor Killer was run through with the steam.

As long as we had the steam cleaner we 
figured we might as well clean all the rugs.
Love a carpeted driveway!

Guess what I have now? A giant beautiful rug in my living room. No smell.

Ok, maybe that Kilim covered chest is a bit much on the 
patterned rug but we'll deal. 

Nature abhors a vacuum.

(Dirty rugs on the other hand, love them.)

I'm pretty sure there is a lesson here on waiting for what you want, clearing space to make room for the new, etc. I'll go into that more next time.