A Change of Scenery…

I have been working from home for 8 years now.

After a while, I get tired of looking at the same things day in and day out.

The time has come for a change of scenery.

Things need some freshening up.

To keep me sane. To keep me interested. To keep me happy.

The first change was to get rid of the old terrarium.  Sad but true.

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It was time. This little terrarium was going on 3 years old. It was low maintenance, but that wasn’t enough to keep it around. It was the only indoor plant we had in the house – again, not enough to keep it. I liked the striped appearance of the leaves, but I just wanted something different. I was wanting some color in that little corner. So, the terrarium had to go.

Here is my new view of the kitchen from my workspace…

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I suspect you are wondering what all the hoopla is about – or not.  Well, the hoopla is about that little red pumpkin popping out against the sunny window .  It is likely a surprise to most people out there that something small like a little red pumpkin can make a big difference in my sanity. Well, I am here to tell you that it has and does make a difference. It sounds weird, but the color and the cute shape keep me from losing my mind when I am sitting at my desk – on a phone work meeting that is the same old monotony.  I love that little red pumpkin. Here he is close up…

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The other change I’ve recently made was the addition of some artwork along the ledge going down the stairs.  This is also visible from my workspace. It was feeling a bit tired and uninteresting.

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So, I went into the archives (aka the basement) and found some things that I already had. I like the bright pops of color from the two pieces on the right – the colors and contrasting graphics are easy to see from my desk. The two on the left with the white mats are also easy to see from my desk – so, that’s good. The two in the center are small prints and not easily studied from across the room. I think at some point I will move those somewhere else and replace with something more graphic and colorful. Finally, there is the ostrich print on the wall. Previously, that spot was taken by the black and white photo that is now on the ledge. The ostrich is brightly colored and funny. He makes me smile – so, that’s a plus when I am at my desk – trying to get through the monotony of my afternoon work.

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I think the artwork is also nice as you go down the stairs

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and up the stairs.

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The final changes involve improved comfort while working – and an addition of some stripes.

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The stripes are a bit of a stretch for me. I don’t love stripes. For me stripes feel a bit too structured, too formal, too linear, too expected, too monotonous (I promise this is the last reference to monotomy – ever). You get the picture. Stripes are not my thing.  With all that said, I went with stripes for my new area rug in my desk area – and I think I like it.  It brightens up the place.

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The finale is my new desk chair…

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I previously had an upholstered dining chair that I was using as a desk chair. It has worked out ok for the better part of 5ish years. Then, in January I noticed that my lower back and hips were stiff and sore after sitting in my desk chair for any period of time. Tad offered to let me try out his desk chair – Tad has been singing the praises of this chair for a year. I was resistant at first because I don’t really like the look of office furniture – especially in my house.  However, common sense and comfort finally won out. I tried Tad’s chair. It was a miracle – comfortable and ergonomic.  I was sold after one day. I ordered one up. It came in this week.  I had to pick it up downtown – where the parking and loading of things is not optimal. I got lucky that day though. I got a parking space about a half of a block away from the showroom so I only had to carry it a short distance. Oh – and there was 30 minutes left on the meter so I didn’t have to pay for parking. It was a good day – great parking space, money left on the meter, and the new green chair made it safe and sound to my car for transport. I am taking all that luck as a good sign. The green chair is meant to be in my life – even if it does still resemble office furniture.

I like it. It is comfortable. I just wish somebody out there would make a comfortable/ergonomic desk chair that looked like a dining room chair. That would be the ultimate best.

Anyway…

Tad’s is gray leather. Mine is spring green wool. Tad’s leather chair is softer – thus, maybe a bit nicer. Mine is prettier. I like pretty.

Here we are before the mini workspace makeover…

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Here we are now – after the mini workspace makeover with a new chair and a new area rug…

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It feels freshened up. I think it looks freshened up too. Now, if only my actual work would get freshened up…

DIY plumbing…

This post is not just a story. There is also some basic advice here – what to do, what not to do – stuff like that. However, this is not a “How To” post – sorry if you are looking for that – it isn’t here. This is more of an inspirational post. It is a “You Can Do It” kind of post – if you are so inclined. Plumbing repairs have become really, really easy. So easy, that you don’t really even need a “How To”. Just joking. If you haven’t ever done any plumbing repairs before, a walk down You Tube Lane is probably in order. With all that said, I won’t be offended if you skip the story and go directly to the advice section – it is at the bottom. However, the story does support the advice so it might be worth it…

Ok. Now for the story.

We are “those people”.

We failed to disconnect our hose from the outside spigot. I am guessing you know what happened next. Yes, the water left in the spigot froze, causing the pipe to burst.

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The plus side to this is that it burst in front of the valve so I discovered the leak only after turning on the spigot outside. It could have been a lot worse. It could have burst behind the valve and filled the basement with water. I know this because it has happened before – in our basement – because I forgot to disconnect the hose for the winter.  You’d think I would learn – but no. I cleaned up the mess and broke the bad news to Tad.

Tad seemed almost excited – maybe, even happy. It was weird. Why would Tad be sort of excited and/or happy about a plumbing repair?

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Well.  I soon discovered that Tad had been looking forward to this moment for a while.  Plumbing advances and technology have made some pretty big strides the last few years. So, of course, Tad was hoping for an opportunity to use all that new technology. Our burst pipe was just the moment he was waiting for…

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This moment involved PEX tubing instead of copper piping, and Sharkbite fittings rather than flux and a propane torch.

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We got to skip calling in an actual plumber. Tad was happy about that. I was happy about that. That saved us money and time – and time is money (or so they say). So, you know, it saved us extra money.

And – Tad got to try out Home Depot’s price matching policy. Did you know they have a price matching policy? They do. That saved us even more money – about 25-30% in supply savings.

We got to spend our saved money on dinner at Bang! I had the grilled salmon. Tad had the chicken fried chicken breast. I also had peach cobbler. Yum.

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My job for this project was to hold the flashlight – and provide advice. I am pretty good at both.

Here is the list of things we needed for this repair:

  1. A new 12″ anti-rupture spigot. Though, the anti-rupture label does not mean that it won’t freeze and burst if you leave the hose on during the freezing winter months.
  2. A shutoff valve with appropriate Sharkbite fittings. It is nice to be able to shut off just the affected area when doing plumbing repairs – rather than the entire house. You can take your time, do the needed research, and get it done correctly – without the pressure of knowing you need to get water running again. DSCN5180
  3. A Sharkbite fitting to attach the spigot to the PEX tubing.DSCN5172
  4. A small length of PEX to attach the spigot to the shut off valve.
  5. A 90 degree PEX bender. We first bought the plastic one – it broke – PEX is not as flexible as you would think it should be. We then bought the metal one – it worked great. Buy the metal one. DSCN5182
  6. Some plumber’s tape – for the threaded connection between the spigot and Sharkbite adapter.
  7. Something to cut the PEX with – we used our copper pipe cutter.
  8. Silicone – to seal around the outside of spigot.

Here is our repair – fixed and good to go…

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I am going to guess that it took us 15-20 minutes total to complete this project – excluding research and Home Depot time. Tad likes to do research, so we don’t really count that time. We also like going to Home Depot so that time isn’t a big deal either. The point is that this repair was easy, quick, and did not require any special equipment or skill.

Do you feel inspired?

Here is the advice part:

  1. The best advice is prevention. Avoid the need to do spigot repairs. Disconnect your hose from the spigot before freezing weather sets in.
  2. Just do it! A little research and planning is all that is needed. It is pretty easy – really.
  3. Use shut off valves. It is worth it to be able to shut off a single area rather than the entire house when a repair is needed.
  4. Use PEX and Sharkbites. No special equipment or skills needed. The tubing and adapters just fit together without glue or solder or anything. It just doesn’t get any easier.
  5. Utilize price matching policies at the home improvement store. It can save you significant pennies.
  6. Did you know you can use string to cut PVC pipes?  You can. We didn’t get to do that with this repair. We used string for another repair recently – the overflow drain in the laundry room was leaking – annoying. Anyway, it worked perfectly – and it was fun.
  7. If you are ever in Denver and needing some dinner, look up Bang! It is delicious.

Let’s catch up…

Where does the time go?

Well, work eats up a boatload of time. Then, there is stuff like house cleaning, laundry, exercise, food preparation, sleep, daydreaming about winning the Lotto, house maintenance, car maintenance, yard maintenance, mental health maintenance, fall bulb planting, the new fall television lineup (including another great Amazing Race), birthdays, football, Halloween, gourd painting, Thanksgiving, holiday craft fairs, Christmas tree decorating, Christmas shopping, Christmas itself, way too much laying on the couch, some actual reading of books (it is surprising how engaging an actual book is), Season 3 of Homeland (yes – we are a year behind on our Homeland viewing), some 2015 vacation planning, house project thinking, house project debates, house project disappointments, house project refocus, house project progress, and finally the New Year. Obviously, I could go on and on and on. I won’t. I will end it here and just get to the catching up…

Ok.

Remember the custom cabinet I was having made from reclaimed boxcar mahogany?

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It was supposed to be finished and in our house sometime in July. It didn’t arrive. I called the store inquiring about my cabinet in August. I spoke with the design guy and he said that the way he designed the cabinet made it difficult to implement. It was designed to have a metal frame and panels between the metal frame supports which seems simple enough.

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Well – apparently not. I was thinking about just asking to have it redesigned so the metal frame was eliminated and it just sat on a metal base (since I thought that was what I was getting anyway). He insisted that they were close to getting his design correctly implemented and he would call me back with an update. Two weeks went by – no call. So, I tried calling him. I left multiple messages. No word back. I tried to email. Still, no word back. I called twice more – still nothing. Eventually I spoke with another salesperson at the store. I layed out my situation and tried to explain that I was trying to follow up on my cabinet. The woman who answered the phone was downright rude. I simply asked if I could expect a call back that day with an update since I had been waiting a month and had no response back after multiple contacts. She abruptly told me that she would pass on the message. I asked if the owner was there and she said “I don’t think you heard me, I will pass on the message”. That did it for me. Bad customer service and treating me like I am an inconvenience is one thing that I won’t tolerate.  I got in my car and drove down to the store.  I listened to the long list of excuses why they couldn’t get the project done, how much money they had spent trying to get it done, and why they didn’t respond to my many calls and emails. By the way, the reason they couldn’t respond was that they were too busy. I politely asked for a refund being that it seemed my business was an inconvenience for them. The sad thing is that they could have kept my business if they had shown just a tiny inkling of common courtesy. Crazy. I have moved on.

Now, I have my mind set on reusing an existing piece of furniture in our house. I am just trying to figure out if there is any possible way I can do this myself or if I have to begin a new woodworker search. It is a beautiful, handcrafted large cabinet that is no longer needed as it was originally intended for (which was media equipment storage). The piece would need to be seriously reworked, but I think it would be cool if I can figure out how to get it done…

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Next, we’ve got the outdoor dining table saga. It was supposed to be on my patio by the end of August at the latest. I got the base in October. It snowed before I could get the wood top installed. Then, I decided I need a weather cover before installing the wood top. So, here we are… I’ve got the base,

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the wood is sealed and ready to go,

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the cover is on order.  Oh so close…

Finally, we are actively, actually moving along with our main level reconfiguration/renovation. You might not recall – because it was way back in March – but the project came to a bit of a standstill due to indecision and inability to agree.  I tried to get it moving sometime in the spring by taking apart the old closet.

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The parts sat around for a few months in our extra bedroom.

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I finally dropped off the parts to Habitat Restore – because we had friends coming for a visit in August and they needed somewhere to sleep.  Doesn’t sound like much does it?  Well, don’t write this project off as yet another procrastination. The decisions have been made. We (Tad & I) are in agreement. The architect has been consulted. The preliminary sketches have been reviewed. Some new ideas have been incorporated. The final drawings are in process. Here is a sneak peek…

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More to come in the very near future.  Let’s get this project started!

You know I have to mention my To Do List whenever possible. Something got checked off the list! LEDs. Changing out to LEDs in our house was on my To Do List. It is done.

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I realize that this is totally not exciting and likely not even worth mentioning, but I feel like I have to at least pretend I got something done over the last 4 months…