Monday, June 28, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

Well, folks, I must say that my pinching-of-the-pennies hit a new low yesterday. Seeing as I am what you would describe as a "bleeding-heart liberal" it has even shocked myself. But it is what it is.

I did half my grocery shopping at Wal-mart yesterday.

Yeah. I know.

Congress has not passed the unemployment extension, which means, we are done. No more cashola from Uncle Sam. Which, really, I'm not necessarily that upset about. Yes, we may end up running at a deficit given our current expenses (did I mention our mortgage is $3200?), but part of me thinks that more than a year of unemployment benefits is a lot already. Granted, some people have it worse where both husband AND wife are unemployed and also have children and they most definitely need that money. Beyond this, the reality is that unemployment is propping up the economy probably more than we'd like to admit. It allows people to spend a bit more and keep money pumping through local businesses. I really have mixed feelings about it running out. He's now applying to part-time retail jobs just to keep some money other than mine, coming in. I hope some of those pan out because with 10% unemployment, I think even the part-time $10/hour jobs are recieving lots of applicants.

Anyway, so, I succumbed to the Evil Empire's Cheap Goods. I think I probably saved $5+. Given that I only spent $39 total, it's a big percentage. Honestly, I had a long internal pause before deciding I was going to officially do food shopping there.

Example of their excessive cheapness. Bananas? 45 cents per pound. Local fairly cheap Henry's Market: 67 cents per pound.

Sliced swiss cheese (the real stuff, not the "Cheese Food" business): $2.23. Fresh and Easy it's something like $2.49 or $2.99, I believe.

I didn't buy any vegetables there, though I wonder if I should have because I got to Henry's and realized that I should have bought the avocado at Wal-mart for 50 cents rather than a full dollar and Henry's. I ended up skipping it entirely because I couldn't bring myself to pay that much for one avocado (I live a few towns over the the self-proclaimed "Avocado Capital of the World" - paying that much for one is just plain wrong. You can buy a bag of 20 for $5 on the side of the road).

As I was loading the car, I wondered if I was selling out and going to end up at a Sarah Palin rally and evangelizing about "Abstinence Only" as viable birth control. I know. Really. My brain is weird like that. I don't think I will fall down that slippery slope. I hope. One has to be careful of the power of Wal-mart.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sharing is Caring

There's the good sharing like, borrowing a cup of sugar or a hammer. And then there's not so good sharing like VD.

Or termites.

I cannot say I'm surprised because I have seen no less than 4 tents in the neighborhood in the last 6 months. Which means all the surviving termites were forced to find a new house to crash each time. Be warned: If you see a tent go up your block, it's just a matter of time before you'll be tenting, too.

What I thought was termites in my floor (and now I have to replace the t-molding the dude ripped up and broke which is a bonus pain in the crack), is actually termites eating the wood beam in the vaulted ceiling and the "frass" - pest terminology for "crap" - has been raining down on the floor. Sweet! And he found two other spots in the house. I don't think that "making it rain" should involve poo, but because making it rain with dollars never happens except in rap songs, the alternative in my life is making it rain with insect shit.

Sooooo. That means the best option is to tent. You know what's funny? Or not so much? I just got a chunk of shares vest (like 4 days ago - the sell order hasn't even settled yet) from my job which was nice - and I was thinking that it would be my master shower remodel budget or finishing the windows. Now? Nearly half is going to pay for this. Tenting alone is $1900. If they have to replace boards along the roof, it'll be another $700-800. Did I mention The Huz is still unemployed? Yeah.

Oh, and happy birthday to me. Literally and figuratively.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Not Surprisingly

...I did not take my chair apart this weekend. It was kind of my birthday weekend so the first thing on my mind was not tackling major projects. Plus, there's the subject of termites - yes, those munchy bastards - that are eating the walnut t-molding that I just installed a few months back in the room where the chair it sitting. So I don't want to touch anything in there, related to termites or not. I don't know what's going to go down with the floor. The pest people are coming this evening to confirm my suspicion and hopefully have a good remedy. One of the lovely things you have to deal with as a homeowner in coastal California. Effing termites.

I did make progess on minor projects, though...

First off, the patio door is officially done. Check! It ain't perfect, I'm not gonna lie. But you do't really notice the imperfections until you're up close and inspecting.

The reason it took so long was the door was slighly recessed into the wall due to the fact that the outside brick molding is meant to be flush with the stucco (at least that's my conclusion). We did not install it that way. Rather than cut away stucco which could result in having to do lots of tedious patching we installed it so the brick molding rested on top of the stucco (then silicone caulked the gap). The result on the inside was about 1.5 inches of distance to make up to get to the drywall (which also had to be patched in order to remove pesky aluminum bracket thingies that were there for some drywall purpose which I have determined to be stupid and non-essential). I used some stock molding from Lowe's to get closer to the drywall and ended up with about 3/8"+ gap between that and the casing. That is where backer rod comes in (which turns out is just a tube-shaped foam - I always thought it was something way more sophisticated and scary). I shoved that into the gap and had to do other annoying botchery maneuvers to double it up where the gap was just a bit too large, then caulked. That's where the imperfections are - where the gap was larger than 3/8" and I had to do weird McGruber stuff. Eh.

I also completed this thing and I haven't found a home for it in the house yet:

The frame was 25 cents at a rummage sale at the local Women's Club (i.e. Old Lady Club) which was just insanely cheap (I bought a slew of frames, a painting, and two dishes there for a total of $3.25. I swear I felt like I was stealing it was so cheap). I spray painted it Rustoleum's "Paprika", then used antiquing glaze from Lowe's, and final coat of spray poly. The corks are from a healthy wine habit (this only used up around 40-ish corks - about third of our cork stash). I finished it this morning.

And the other thing I did was frame out and install drywall over the hole where the downstairs bath medicine cabinet used to be. I had the Huz remove it last week (which he did under slight protest because he doesn't understand why I would be removing it but it just has to go). Over the week, I'll be floating. Small progress in downstairs bath - baby steps.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Dooce is in NYC and has been posting about it and I feel oddly nostalgic. I spent my college years in the city and it was just about the best time in my life. Sure, there were the ups and downs that come with being a college student but 9 out of 10 times I think about snapshots of those years, it's fondly. And it's not that I want to move back to NYC but I think it's more of the realization that I'm getting old. Those 4 years are getting more compacted in my memory and just farther away.

When you're a kid, 4 years is huge. At 20, 4 years is a fifth of your life. The older you get, the less "big" 4 years becomes. You know? The ratio of it to the rest of your years gets smaller and smaller. Nevermind that you can never "relive" the past (unless someone can get that flux capacitor working on the Delorean! 1.21 gigawatts!), but now it's harder to even remember details.

I don't even know where I'm going with this other than I see those pics and I think "God, I was there and saw that view for years." I was part of that city and it seems so far removed from me now. Just like when I think about growing up in New England - I've now spent 10 years here - more than half my childhood. At what point does it feel like you can no longer call those places your own anymore? Because at times, I feel like I'm not a New Englander anymore, but I can't really call myself a Californian either.

Maybe this is why some people never leave their hometowns.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wee Update

No pictures in this post so you are forced to read. I know, breaking cardinal blogging rule of not having pictures. When did blogging have such rules and when did reading words without pictures become abhorrent? Anyway.

Stupid Table.

Been plugging along over here. Table still has not sold. F.E.H. Patience, Chacha, Patience.

The Calorie Accounting Project.

Now this one is going well, I must say. I am down somewhere between 6 and 7 pounds - suddenly everything fits again and other stuff is loose. The first 6 came off like nothing, but I am thinking the last 5 are going to take a quite a bit longer. If I get to 109-110, it'll be a weight I haven't seen since 2003 when I was training for LA and San Diego Rock n' Roll marathons. Granted, it's still 10 pounds more than college, but to that I say: whatever. I know I have more muscle than I did back then and I refuse give up regular wine and beer to maintain 100 pounds.

The Old Chair.

Thanks to Good 'Ol Lou taking a giant whiz on my chair in the living room (guess who's getting neutered soon - I think it's time), I'll probably be tackling the dismantling of said chair this weekend. Speaking of Lou, we were forced to upgrade our wastebasket in the downstairs bathroom to one with a lid because he thinks all things found in there are treats, including tampon applicators. He's a winner, that one.


Aside from my posterior aching, running has been going well. I haven't really been following any kind of plan other than running long on the weekend and then squeezing in 3-4 miles once or twice more during the week (coupled with 1 hour of cycle class twice a week). Either the cycle cross-training or the recent loss in weight, has made be a bit faster as I, again, ran under 25:30 for a 5k on Sunday. It was hilly, hot (9am in Temecula is not ideal for running), and, unlike the last race where I had a half-marathon mileage base, this time the most I had run was 8 miles and I have done pretty much no speed-work. So, while it was 7 seconds slower than last time, I had way more strikes against me where I would have expected to be 30-40 seconds slower.


I've been diligently working on finishing up the molding around the back patio door (yes, more than one year later) and I am just about there. Finally. I think by tomorrow it'll be officially done. The next project we'll do before doing the master bath shower/toilet room is the downstairs bathroom. I want to get a little bathroom reno practice under my belt with a smaller project. It's not really THAT small, but it's generally cosmetic:

  1. Remove the old, recessed medicine cabinet (and patch drywall),
  2. remove 80s flourescent light box soffit thing and install vanity light (more drywall and some minor electrical work),
  3. Remove ginormous mirror and replace with smaller mirror,
  4. Make new shaker-style cabinet doors,
  5. Paint vanity cabinet,
  6. Remove countertop and replace with tile,
  7. Replace broken faucet,
  8. Paint walls,
  9. Replace fixtures.
OK, all written out, it doesn't look that small. Eh. It's still a low-risk project, whereas the master bath is higher risk so I want to start with the "low" to git some lernin' in. I am hoping to start that bad boy in the next two weeks. I still have 5% cashback to earn at home improvement stores this month on one of my credit cards and I have two Lowe's coupons so time is of the essence!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Craiglist Injury

You guys thougth I was dead, right? I have no idea why I have been so silent. Maybe because following up something huge like replacing windows with something much less exciting wasn't enough impetous to get me a-postin'.

Anyway, my Craiglist obsession sort of bit me in the ass. I had the left over cash from the yard sale and decided to use it for a much needed coffee table in the family room.

I had my heart set on a mid century style; I think the unintentional purchase of the soon-to-be-reupholstered $25 mid century chair made me feel like getting a couple other pieces of the same style. So, I jumped on this danish solid teak table (from probably the 90s, but still kind of mid century style) for $100:

It it an excellent table which, apparently new, is a whole lot of money, new. Someone on eBay is selling a used one for $799. Unfortunately this table is (1) a bit large for the space, (2) not exactly what I wanted.

What I wanted was a table from the 60s Lane Acclaim series. The only styles from the series that would fit are the round version and a small-ish (32") square version. Not the easiest to find and not necessarily cheap (the square was posted for $190), thus why I had compromised on the danish one.

As "luck" would have it, a round one popped up on CL in the OC for $125. It's from 1959, the first year of the style, which I think it has a squared off edge as opposed to the rounded. Had. To. Have. It. I know. It's an addiction. I rationalized that I would sell the other one.

So now, I have two tables. One too many. I posted the old one at a higher price since (a) it's freakin' up for $800 on eBay and a brand new one is available at Danish Design USA for, get this, $2300 (insane), (b) people always low-ball you on CL and I want my $100 back. And? No bites on my table. Feh. I figure eventually, it will sell. I will start trimming the price down next week and then also post to the OC and LA (since the market for Danish/MCM design is probably better).

The moral of the story? Be patient and scour CL for what you actually want. And think about what you want. Don't make my mistake and just take one that sort of works for you. Also - try making a scale model to see if the shape will fit - which was half the problem with the first table.

I used 1 cm = 1 foot and then made little cut-outs of paper to see what would fit and what wouldn't. Turned out the circle was a pretty good fit - just a smaller circle than the first table was the key.