Posted by Becky
We don't often talk about our dining room here at Casa Caudill, mostly because there's really not much to say about it. It's the room we probably use least often, and it's kind of just ... done. I'm sure there's more that could be done to it to make it nice and homey (like painting it the pumpkin orange we bought a couple of months ago), but otherwise, I'm at a loss. I'd like to find a buffet for in front of the window, but I haven't seen anything that I love. I should probably start scouring the thrift/antique stores again, but there are so many other rooms in the house to work on that the idea of looking for something for this room just seems like a waste of time.
So ... with that in mind, I turn to y'all for inspiration - what would you do to perk this room up?
Posted by Becky
In addition to all of the work we've been doing outside, we've been making progress indoors as well. Not as quickly as I would like (because that requires cleaning first, and I haven't been so good on that front), but things are coming along.
When we first moved in, we didn't really have a good idea of how to set up the living room. We have a rather *large* television and couch, so the flow of the room is pretty much dictated by those two things. The way we had it set up cut off the passageway from the dining room to the living room such that when I wanted to eat dinner in front of the tv (most nights), I'd walk through the dining room, into the foyer, and then back into the living room.
Last weekend we rearranged the placement of the media cabinet and the couch. It's not a perfect layout, but it does open up the room so much more. The ideal scenario would be to get a flat screen/plasma, but isn't that the case for everyone? *wink*
Please ignore the clutter/laundry in the foyer and dining room. While this room was clean, those were not (obviously). In this photo you can also see the paint swatch I've picked out for this room. It's a greenish grey color and I think it'll look great. I hate the lemon yellow that's in there now (which, interestingly enough, doesn't photograph the same as it looks in person). Also, at the loft we had this really great large,metal, swirly medallion thingymajig that I want to hang on the wall above the console.
Finally, for the area above the couch, I have framed some cool papers in Ikea Ribba frames that we originally bought for the dining room (but which did not work out w/my photos b/c the frames are not a standard size). The colors are pretty complimentary and work well with the cushions we have and the rug. I imagine we'll get those hung up at some point soon as well.
Posted by Becky
For the last several weeks, we've spent countless hours in the backyard trying to make it a place that we'd want to spend time in during the warm, summer months. When we bought the house in July, the yard was a wasteland of acacia leaves, wasps, and junk.
After tearing out the trees, we were left with a patch of dead crab grass, and a border of chipped, crumbling concrete. Those who have been following our journey know all the back-breaking labor Alan completed earlier this spring to get the concrete pulled up. (It sits in a large pile on the side of our yard, so we didn't completely divest ourselves of its beauty). After pulling up the concrete, we planted grass and put in a row of rose bushes and other flowers along the fence.
A couple of weekends ago, we finally purchased our gazebo from Target and assembled it. It's funny because our next door neighbor has a great deck and backyard and here's our shabby ghetto yard but the little girl next door was all about our gazebo and kept telling her dad it was no fair that we got one. Yeah, but we also have dead weeds and a pile of concrete. Wanna trade? *smile*
The following pictures show just how far we've come ... and how much further we need to go. At this point, it's definitely liveable, if not beautiful. Such a dramatic improvement though, dontcha think?
The patch of dirt next to the gazebo is the future home of a paved patio area that will eventually house a firepit. The wet area in the photo by the fig tree and the transplanted rosemary bush will become my vegetable garden. Yesterday we bought 3 or 4 varieties of tomatoes (mostly heirloom), some blue lake beans, some peppers, and some swiss chard. We ran out of steam yesterday after working for 6 hours, so I hope to get those in the ground today.
Alan spent the majority of his afternoon putting in this ... um, I don't know what it's called ... pulling up weeds and grass, and adding the redwood bark. I tell you what, I could lay down in the grass all day now and just smell the redwood. It's just like camping.
If the weather cooperates today (cloudy and looks like rain), we're going to work on the back half of the yard ... those weeds are almost as tall as me!
Posted by Becky
I have no problem admitting that I am a fan of shiny new things and think the perfect way to go about obtaining a vehicle is to lease. The thought of owning the same car for 5+ years is a foreign concept to me and one that I hope never to endure (with the exception, of course, of the Mini).
The lease on my Highlander is up at the beginning of November. Alan's dad works at the local Toyata/Saab/Suburu dealership, so we've begun feeling our way through various models in the hopes of finding a car that fits our needs.
I am starting a new job on June 6, so my commute is going to change somewhat (become even less than the one I've been making for the last 2.5 years). You'd think, given this, that I'd be okay with some run down beater that only needs to make it to the BART station and back on a regular basis, but you'd be wrong.
For some strange, completely unexplainable and totally illogical reason, I have the overwhelming need for a nice car. Maybe because we spend most of the time in my car on the weekends, or because that's the vehicle we tend to drive to/from Napa/Sonoma/Tahoe/Mendocino, I can't imagine myself in a beater, or maybe it's because growing up all we had were run down jalopies, but I just can't make myself say, "you know what? I don't need a nice car." Call me shallow, but that's what it is - a need. I need a nice car like I need a nice house and nice kitchen gadgets. Nothing less will do.
Along those lines, a couple of weeks back we test drove the Saab 9.3 sportcombi. At the time, I didn't know I'd be making a job change, so even though the lease deal we were presented with was a bit more expensive than we were initially led to believe, I still wanted that car. It was BEAUTIFUL.
But then plans changed and we had to think up a new plan for my commute.
Perhaps I'd take the Mini to/from BART and Alan would get a car that would be good for his commute. And then I made the ultimate mistake of mentioning the Scion XB - as a joke. Unfortunately, Alan saw nothing funny about my suggestion and took me seriously. So ... tonight we test drove it - and I *hated* it! Aside from the fact that I felt like only 18 year olds should be driving it (funnily enough, a song from my freshman year in high school came on while on the test drive), I didn't feel at all safe.
When we got back to the dealership, we decided to also test drive the Subaru Forrester. All in all, I liked it.
The suspension was a bit tight, but I liked the controls and the way the car was set up. It's no Saab, but it's no Scion either. We'd definitely go with the leather seats, and we both decided we liked the sunroof. Oh, and I want heated seats. We have them on the Mini and they are divine!
We've still got some time to decide, but depending on where the lease price falls, this might be something we'd seriously consider.
Posted by Becky
When you live in a transitional neighborhood (read: the ghetto), there are certain things you can't go without - in this case, an alarm system.
When we first moved in, the house was equipped with a system from Bay Alarm, but for some reason we didn't take the time to transfer it to our names (for the first three or four days we lived here, it kept going off and we couldn't get it to stop - the police even drove by to investigate). Today, they came out to re-install the system.
About 20 minutes ago Alan showed me how to use it. It's currently set up to tell us which windows and/or doors are open (potential security breaches) and a couple of other things I don't quite get. After Alan showed me how to use it, he set the code to arm us for the night.
Five minutes later he walked outside.
I ran over and started entering the code, hoping I was doing it right. When the noise stopped, he walked up to me and said sheepishly, "I forgot already."
I can see this is going to take some getting used to.
Last night we went shopping to pick up some small items (milk, OJ) and some stuff for dinner. We had a night of season finales in front of us so we opted to go for the cheese/bread/olive/meat platter to go with our bottle of wine at home. We picked up a few other items like syrup and cereal, some vegetagbles too. Everything we picked up fit nicely into a single whole foods bag.
That bag contains 86 dollars ... worth of groceries.
This madness must stop. At least we didn't pick up any pudding.
Posted by Alan
This morning as I'm leaving for work I saw a neighborhood denizen I hadn't seen before. I'm driving to the end of my block and there's a guy riding a harley down the street at about 5 mph. He's a large biker-looking fellow, but has no helmet, is wearing shorts and flip-flops, and has his shirt unbuttoned. As he gets to the intersection he makes a lazy u-turn and heads back the other way. It's at this point I noticed the dog. Yes, this man took his dog for a "walk" on his motorycle down the middle of the street.
I guess it makes for a good workout, and the dog seemed to be enjoying it.
We had to leave our friends' bbq early this evening b/c unfortunately I am very allergic to their dear Moby. The saddest part is, he loves me and I love him ... alas, we were not meant to be. Still, Moby thought it would be a hoot to jump in my lap and snuggle for a couple of minutes. That was enough to do me in and by 9pm, I was wheezing and itching and just needed to head home to breathe.
I spent the remainder of the evening watching Miles chase a moth that is OUTSIDE THE WINDOW and playing around with more digital scrapbooking designs. For some reason, PSE kept crashing on me, which rather sucks. I had to work in both PSE and PS to make most of what I wanted to do work.
In the end, I came up with a design I like. It's not perfect, and I'm still learning how to create the elements I want to, but it's coming along quite nicely.
Posted by Becky
My house is in such a state of disarray that it's actually rather alarming. The other day I walked in and if I didn't know better, I would guess that people were in the process of moving in (you know ... like after you've been there for a month and most of the stuff is put away, but there's still a lot of other stuff just lying around while you try to figure out what to do with it) or moving out (most everything is packed except for all the random *junk* and you can't quite figure out what box to put each thing in so it just sits out until the day before you move when you throw it all into one box, organization be damned).
The thing is, I have absolutely NO energy at the end of the day to devote to cleaning it. I tried doing it last weekend, but we're so far behind that even if you spend 3-4 hours/day, the place still doesn't look up to par. I had thought I'd spend time today cleaning the bathroom and maybe dusting, but when we got home after my blood work, I passed out. I took a "nap" from approximately 4pm until just after 8pm. And now it's 10:30pm and who really wants to start cleaning this late?
We've talked a couple of times about getting a cleaning service, and I've actually even made an attempt at hiring one. You see, we agreed that they'd come on a Friday at 3pm since I get off at 2pm and I could meet them and kind of check out the quality of their work (and make sure they weren't trying to steal my stuff). They showed up on a Wednesday at 3pm and then called me up to complain because I wasn't there to meet them. Clearly, they couldn't understand simple instructions so I decided they probably weren't the service for me. Then a couple of weeks later I was having an email conversation back & forth with another lady who owns her own service. We discussed the scope of the work, what her fees were, and how much cleaning we were looking to have done and how often. When I told her I was thinking probably only once a month, she never responded. I think she thought we were talking 2x/week and saw $$$ signs, but when she realized we weren't, she bolted. So yeah ... not for a lack of trying. Maybe I'll take up the torch again and see what I can make happen.
Posted by Alan
Tonight around 6pm while Becky is shopping for dinner I hop into the shower for my standard Thursday post-gym cleanup. As usual I turn on the hot water on the tub and wait for it to get hot before flipping to the shower. I remember I washed towels today so while it's heating up I jump out to pick up my towel (I hate it when I forget to have a towel ready and have to drag my wet naked ass across the house to get one). I get back and ... still not hot. Uh oh.
I run downstairs to check the water heater and there's a puddle underneath it. Step one, turn off the water. Step two, turn off the gas. No wait, I can't manage to turn it off, it's stuck. Strangely enough, just this week we got a "how to deal with a broken water heater" flyer in the mail. I go grab it out of the recycles and call the 24x7 number. They can get a guy out in under an hour - good start. I call our home warranty people who say "tomorrow at the latest, maybe in 3-8 hours if it's an emergency". It's 7pm and I can't shut off my gas, even 3 hours isn't too exciting a prospect.
The guy shows up, walks in and says, "you're going to need a new unit, and you're not up to code because of xyz". He puts me on the phone with the lady in the office (which is in LA, it turns out) and she quotes me 2k. I asked about tankless but that's way more, 3-4k to start. Apparently you need to be 5 feet from a window, 5 feet from the property line, and have an exhaust 18" above the roof line. 2k gets me a shower tonight.
He spent about 4 hours (and all I had to tip him was a 20) but now we have a new water heater (to code, with permits). It's a 50 gallon bradford white (replacing the 30 gallon model we had from 1991. Apparently 16 years is a good time for a kid to get a car, but not so much for a water heater).
I don't know much about code, but I needed a different gas connector, and 8 inches of copper from the water inlet, and an external venting overflow valve (which took another 20+ feet of copper).
It seems we overpaid, but I don't know how to determine that (I'm surprised how few references there are from google about what people paid. Well, here's one at least for the next guy). I did call my dad who had a new unit installed last year and he paid less, but not half the price so I wasn't going to save $200 for something I could wrap up immediately and be done with. We'll see if I can get something out of my homebuyers warranty. If not I'll never get one again.
Anyway, it's not quite midnight so I'm going to take that shower I went through all the hassle for.