Kitchen Living Room

Monday, July 30, 2012

Birthdays, Kittens, & Ponies

Been busy with finals at school. I know, I know. You're like, again?! But yes. Finals come but once three times a year. Blah! I love my classes though. Economics and a seminar in advanced accounting.

I have lots of stuff to share with you. I have more art on the walls, some kitchen updates, a HUGE storage/organization project, plus I have to cover all of the projects I completed at my dad's house over the fourth of July. Oh, and my dad got his home movies back on DVD! Shh, it's a secret. He's going to send him to his brother and sister-in-law as a surprise (please don't tell). He's just going to mail them the DVDs without any explanation. Cool, right? Here's a sneak peak, but sorry - no videos yet!

Driving the Car

Birthday Party!

When I get the digital copies I'm going to edit them and add music. It's about 90 minutes worth and almost exactly half are in color - the others in black and white. I never met my grandma on my dad's side, so it's so surreal to see her walking around in a video. It's amazing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

iPhone 4S Wide-Angle (Fisheye) Lens Review

When the airbnb professional photographer stopped by a few months ago to take pictures of my place, he brought a fancy camera that took wide-angle shots. It made the condo look a lot more inviting. The only camera I use anymore is my iPhone 4S camera, so I decided to try out a mini fisheye lens from Amazon, just to see how it would work. I picked the Detachable 0.67X Wide Angle Macro Lens for Apple iPhone, iPod Nano 5, Camera Phones (Camera Lens Smaller than 9.5mm).

It's tiny and comes with a wide angle lens and a macro lens that are connected. It also comes with a few little sticky-backed rings that attach to the lens magnetically. The rings don't stick to the phone very well - that's my only complaint about the product, actually. You could fix that by using some superglue. I didn't because I don't want the ring on my phone permanently. 

The lens comes with a detachable cover and cord (I guess so you could use it as a cell phone charm if you wanted to). I've also heard of people hanging the lens on necklaces so they have it with them all of the time.  

Check out this picture of the kitchen:

Without Lens

Next I stood in the exact same place (with my back up against the windows behind the dining table) and took a picture with the lens. 

With Lens

As you can see, there's a lot more in the frame. Here's another example, using my homework sitting on the dining room table:

Without Lens

With Lens

And again, with the "without lens" picture on top and the "with lens" picture on the bottom:

You can really see the difference, right? And my final example, the bathroom:

Without Lens

With Lens Just Outside Bathroom Door

With Lens Just Inside Bathroom Door

Pretty cool, huh? Notice that in the "With Lens" bathroom pictures you can see the light fixture and all the way up to the ceiling! You can really fit a TON more space in the frame.

At only $5 I think it's a pretty remarkable little doodad and I'm glad I purchased it. The inconvenience of having to take my phone out of its case and affix the little lens to the back is annoying, but when I want a wide-angle photo, totally worth it. I'll definitely be using this lens to take any future airbnb pictures I need.

I haven't tried out the macro (Macro is for taking clear pictures of close-up details.) part of the lens yet, but when I do I'll post a review of that too.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Schoolhouse Style Light Fixtures

Ever since I fell in love with Schoolhouse Electric's lights, I've been convinced that I MUST put a schoolhouse style semi flush mount fixture in the kitchen. And I'm still convinced. I found quite a few cute and more affordable knockoffs on the internet. Wayfair has this guy for a little over $80. Apparently Wayfair HAD a schoolhouse fixture, but it appears to be gone. Sooo never mind that. 

Many sites have options that are closer to Schoolhouse's prices - $120 to $200.

Restoration Hardware $199

Rejuvenation $124

I also found this one from Home Depot for a bit over $50:

Home Depot $52.20

I figured that would be my best choice. Although it's not as cute as the Wayfair option (which I couldn't show you because it's GONE!), it's a bit bigger which may fit better in the space, it's $30 cheaper, and it's sold by Home Depot which has a brick and mortar presence in my area - that means easy returns if it doesn't work out. I don't want to have to return ship something that is breakable.

Since I have been storing the enamel paint (that I'm planning to use to mimic the stripes on the fixture below) in my closet for awhile, I decided to order the Home Depot fixture and get started on this project.

Schoolhouse Electric $185

It's taken me months to make a decision on this. Ha. I've been considering attempting to copy the globe with the gray stripes below instead of the multi-colored stripes.

Schoolhouse Electric Gray Stripes

Another thought is that I could paint light green stripes in the same style as the gray globe (thicker stripes). What do you think? Here's a photoshop mock up of what I'm thinking:

Photoshopped by Me

But now that I see the green, I don't really like it. So maybe blue will work:

Photoshopped by Me

I like the blue better. Here are some photos of the current kitchen light so you can see what I'm replacing:

Current Kitchen Light

Current Kitchen Light Fixture

Here's a terrrrible photoshop job of what it might sort of look like (ha ha!):

Poorly Photoshopped Kitchen Light
After seeing that I'm thinking it's going to be very smart indeed to buy a light fixture that I could return to Home Depot. Because I have no clue how this is going to turn out!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Maple Syrup Banana Bread

I've loved banana bread for as long as I can remember. When I was little my mom and I would make it and I would eat it with butter or cream cheese. My tastebuds have come a long way from those days. I no longer gleefully pour white sugar on my corn flakes (that used to make my brother soooo mad, "Doesn't she know they're already sweetened?!") or eat brown sugar by the spoonful (or handful, whatever works). But I am still baking banana bread every time a spotted brown banana appears on my countertop. Here is what, to date, is my favorite banana bread recipe ever. Also, it's vegan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients:
2 cups unbleached organic white flour (in the future I'll try out wheat, but for now I've only tried white)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Mix wet ingredients:
2 mashed medium-small bananas
1/2 cup original unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup vegan stick butter (I've also used cow butter, both work fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine wet & dry ingredients. Butter loaf pan. Add dough to pan. Spread out dough to level it a bit. Bake for 45 minutes. (Check often.)

You could definitely add walnuts to this recipe. In fact, I recommend it. But I didn't list them in the ingredients because personally I never have them in the kitchen!

I really like this recipe because it doesn't use applesauce like most vegan baking recipes; I usually don't have it on hand. It also doesn't use eggs - I never have those! It uses maple syrup instead of refined sugar. I don't like to bake or cook with regular sugar. That's just a personal preference. I really want to explore baking with fruit juice as a sweetener. That would be fun.

Feel free to de-veganize or do whatever you want to this recipe! This is just what has worked for me. Let me know how it turns out (and what you substituted/added/removed) in the comments.

On the braces front, I can eat banana bread just fine although it does tend to get stuck. I've also been eating most everything else, even really crunchy pita chips. The only foods I have been avoiding are sticky things. But that's not even an issue because there aren't any super sticky foods that I eat regularly. So far no broken brackets!

Super 8

I realized a few days ago that I forgot to mention one of the projects I tackled on my last Alaska trip earlier this month. My dad has been storing a set of 30 film reels from the 1950s-1960s for decades. I got them out, dusted them off, labeled them carefully, and shipped them off to to be converted to a digital format. I can't speak to how good that service is yet, because it takes them up to three weeks to finish. I ordered DVDs for my dad and a Mac compatible flash drive with digital copies so I can burn him additional copies easily.

Organizing the tapes was difficult because the only really reliable source of information on what they contained was from handwriting on the film reel boxes - and some of the boxes were blank with no notes. So I tries to go off of the development dates and the style of the boxes. You can see how Kodak evolved its box style over the years in the picture below!

8mm Film Collection

I am really excited to see all of the home movies, but a few reels really caught my eye. Some of them feature one of my dad's family cabins out in the woods of Arkansas, and my dad has so many stories of how magical it was that I can't wait to see it myself! It sounds like an awesome summer camp. Another reel was labeled "Six Flags" which just sounds too cool. Six Flags 40+ years ago?! Awesome.

When my dad gets the movies back I will let you know how it all turns out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Living Room Rug

I found a rug I like at Home Goods! Assuming it's still there, I might buy it next week. I've attached a picture that shows the rug on top and a picture of the living room floor on bottom. What do you think? According to Anthony's reading of Walden, Thoreau would tell me to go back and visit the rug to see if it makes me happier each time. If I had enough time to go willy nilly rug gazing you bet I would!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lists are Fun

Today is my last day in Alaska, and I've gotten a ton of stuff done for my dad. Here are some lists of what I've accomplished over the past week:

House Stuff (although some of it is work stuff too):
  • Installed Apple TV with login to Netflix for streaming movies and TV shows
  • Signed up for faster internet speed
  • Signed up for an Apple iTunes account for buying apps on iPhone
  • Resolved voicemail password issue
  • Organized contacts and account information in iPhone
  • Created online banking accounts
  • Setup a financial account
  • Installed cup pulls and knobs in the kitchen (22 drawers and 15 doors)
  • Installed a kitchen backsplash
  • Refinanced mortgage
  • Purchased new stainless steel garbage can for kitchen/moved old garbage can to laundry room
  • Organized part of the garage/threw away three car loads of boxes/garbage
  • Vacuumed
  • Moved books to upstairs library
  • Sewed patches onto three pairs of pants and new buttons onto one shirt
  • Ordered three new shirts from J. Crew and bought some clothes in town (for dad)
  • Hung up house numbers on tree at the beginning of the driveway
  • Covered up "Keep Out" sign with a much nicer sign (also at the beginning of the driveway)
Work Stuff:
  • Setup new point of sale computer
  • Setup point of sale area with backup battery surge protector and cord cover (no tripping!)
  • Put together desk in new office
  • Setup computer in new office
  • Assembled shelving
  • Cleaned and organized
  • Organized gift and card for an employee leaving the state
Now I am super tired and I hope I can sleep on the plane. I get back home tomorrow morning and then I have work on Monday. School on Wednesday. Back to it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

House Numbers

I'm back in Alaska this week helping out at my dad's house and his store.

I braved the swarms of mosquitoes to put up new house numbers at the beginning of his driveway. There was a tiny, little sign with numbers, but it was difficult to see. The numbers are from Lowe's and were about $3.50 a piece.

First I found a good tree that was visible from the road.  

I gathered all of my supplies.

And I nailed up each number with two nails a piece. 

Here's what they look like from the road, as if I were in a car. 

Now package deliverers and other visitors will find the house more easily. Mission accomplished. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Brace Face

One of my impromptu goals this year is to fix my teeth issues. So last month I had my wisdom teeth removed (I only had 3 - lucky me). That left only the crookedness of my leftover teeth. I've never hard braces, but I've always wanted straight teeth, particularly on the bottom of my mouth. The crowding on my lower teeth feels uncomfortable most of the time.
A few years ago I went to the dentist because I had been grinding my teeth at night. I knew it because when I woke up, my jaw would hurt, and sometimes I would wake myself up with the motion in my mouth. Waking up grinding your teeth is not fun. Teeth grinding is offically known as bruxism. So sometimes I say to myself that I brux my teeth. That is not offical. That is inside my head. I say it like Brucks. He he. Anyway.

The dentist told me that I could be fitted for a mouth guard that I could wear at night. I trusted her, but the price she quoted me was not feasible at the time. I think it was between $500-$600. I was inbetween my undergraduate college and my first Real job, taking a few graduate courses in a small town. I decided to go with her next best choice, a mouth guard from Walmart (joy).

Doctor'S Nightguard Advanced Comfort, 1 Box
I got the one above for about $20. You heat it up in a pot of water on the stove and then squish it into your mouth to form it to the shape of your teeth. Heating up plastic in water = not my favorite thing, but being able to sleep without grinding my teeth was worth it. I slept fine, and eventually I forgot about using the mouth guard and I lost it. I tried to figure out why I might be grinding my teeth anyway (you know, solve the real problem and not the dummy problem). My dentist told me that it could be one of two things, or a combination of the two: stress and the way the top of my jaw sits on my lower jaw. She said that braces (with the use of rubber bands) could reposition my jaw a bit so that I was less likely to grind my teeth based on how my teeth sit in my mouth. Made sense, but if I couldn't afford a professional mouth guard, I sure as heck wasn't going to go for braces. So I worked on stress instead.

I determined that most of my stress was from uncertainty in my life, particularly in regard to my work. I decided that if I could let go of being afraid of failure, I wouldn't be stressed. That really worked well, and now that I have a Real job, it's still working. I go through periods where I am afraid of being fired, really for no good reason. I'm just afraid because I know that even if I work as hard as I possibly can, someone can still fire me. There's just no Job Guarantee. So I decided to be OK with that. Sure, I could be fired tomorrow. (Well, technically I probably couldn't be because I'm on vacation. But they could fire me on Monday!) BUT, it's OK. Because I can't control everything, and being fired would not be the end of the world. Some of the best advice I've ever heard is the idea that everything is what you consider it to be. If you have something ahead of you that seems awful, it's going to be just that. The magical part of this is that just because something SEEMS awful, doesn't mean that is one of its inherent characteristics. You ASSIGNED it that description! So rewrite the adjectives. Suddenly an inconvenience is an ADVENTURE. (I'm pulling this from G.K. Chesterton. He wrote an incredible book that I love called Orthodoxy, and it's great whether or not you're religious, so don't be influenced too much by the name one way or another.)

I wholeheartedly believe that working on problems from a mental standpoint FIRST is going to help you out the most in the long run. After that part is done, you can choose to move on to getting professional help. That's where my new orthodontist comes in! All of this is to say that I have BRACES! And I am very excited.

Braces are definitely going to help me with the pressure in my bottom teeth, because I can't think my way out of that discomfort. Braces really don't hurt all that much, and it's way less painful than having wisdom teeth removed. I'll keep you up to date on how it goes. I'm going to have them for two years! 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gym Lockers

A few weeks ago I added an Ikea PS Cabinet to the condo. I had been considering adding a piece of furniture to put against the wall with the front door to the condo.

Ikea PS Cabinet

I decided on this guy because he's oh-so-charming with his resemblance to school lockers, and he's only $99. Plus he locks up nicely, which is great for when I rent my condo to airbnbers. Not that I would expect anyone to steal, but it's just nice to have everything stored safely away.

Assembly wasn't too bad. Typical Ikea situation. The only tricky part is making sure the doors fit on just-so in order to allow them to close properly. At first I was thinking of spray painting him, but so far I like him in his nice, bright white clothes.

I thought the cold, white metal might be too much for my more vintage-style place, but I like the look of it. My other furnitures are excited to have their new friend!

Thanks to Ant for the extra special cord/electronics organizing!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Speaking of Painting Rugs...

I love beautiful curtains. The problem is, like many awesome and inspiring home decor items, they are expensive. I was really inspired by these curtains from Anthropologie (where else?! I am so predictable):

Anthropologie Quarter Color Curtain
They're a sort of ombre/dip-dyed style. The tops of the curtains are the same color as my $30 Ikea curtains in my living room:

So last week I bought some Rit Dye in Navy Blue to try it out myself. Here's a side-by-side comparison of what I currently have and what I want to DIY:

I'm going to try this project out sometime in July. I figure, what's the worst that could happen? I ruin my $30 Ikea curtains and I wasted $1.50 on some dye. Bottom line is that it will be fun to try it out even if it fails!