Sep 24, 2012

An Ode To Hiking

I know people who are actual hikers.  My friend Jen frequently (and hilariously) chronicles her hiking adventures with her husband Mike here.  One of my facebook friends is always posting about summitting various local ridges and peaks.  Heck, some friends from high school did a sponsorship fundraiser for the number of miles their TODDLER hiked this summer (check it out- he won for the 13-and-under age group!).

Me?  I like hiking.  The groomed trail type of hiking is my favorite.  I like to imagine I could be the type of tough outdoorsy chick who could backpack in to a remote glacial lake.  Riiiiight.  But seriously, I hardly ever go hiking, even though I enjoy it.  I think it's mostly just lack of planning that impedes us, although the weather is also often to blame (I am not a fan of soupy hiking).

Two weekends past marked my second (and likely last) hike of the season.  Steve and I met my dear sister-in-law Tabi and her soon-to-be hubs Will and managed to canvas most of one branch of the Iron Goat Trail before the sun set.  Go here to read up on the trail.

Here's the photo diary of the trip.  PS- the good photos were taken by Will, the rest were taken by me and my trusty iphone.

 Reading up on the trail's history.

Decal emblazoned on the caboose at the trailhead.

So green, even in September.

Approaching the mouth of the first tunnel.


Looking in.

Looking out (rebel alert)!

Looking up from the forbidden side of the tunnel.

The trail running along the outside of the tunnel.

A picture of a picture...

...Of this!  The west-facing view of the Highway 2 corridor.

One more, just because.

There was this really great bridge.

So we walked on it.

The second tunnel was less, shall we say, structurally sound?

But it did boast crazy calcification.

And stalactites.

Only 96 years old, no big.

We saw dry creek beds.

Crazy tree limb architecture.

Happy little waterfall (Bob Ross).

We made it back to the trailhead just before sunset and were treated to this view (minus the antenna) on our way to bleu cheese sliders and pumpkin ale.  It was a very good day.

Sep 17, 2012

Coming Out of the Dark

Have a little vintage Gloria Estefan action.  You're welcome.

I've managed to kill two lighting-related birds with one Ikea stone. The corner by the TV has been chronically dark. It makes that end of the room seem smaller and makes reading sheet music pretty tricky. Also, I am soooo ready to start decorating the top of my gorgeous craigslist piano.

 A pretty lamp was in order, and Ikea filled that order like a dream. Although I considered getting a lamp with a green base, I decided that I'd rather go for something color-less, so that it'd be more likely to still "go" with whatever ends up on top of the piano across many seasons. Enter the Jonsbo Barby.

I like that it has a dimmer switch, which will come in handy if we want to watch TV but still want some light in that corner of the room. I also like that its shape contrasts with the mercury glass table lamps we have next to the couch. Best of all, the base was not only narrow enough to fit on top of the piano, but it's actually open at the bottom and felted, which means I can a) put decorative things *inside* the lamp if I'm feeling like an overachiever, and b) strategically set the lamp on top of the stopper knobs on top of the piano without damaging the finish.


 There was only one problem....

I didn't like the shade that Ikea sells to go with this lamp. I was really jonesing for a lamp with a drum shade. The less taper, the better. I had searched high and low to find a lamp I liked as well as Ikea's, but with a drum shade, and I came up empty. So I just bought the lamp shade-less and set off to find a shade that would work. What ended up working was Amazon. I purchased this drum shade, which was the cheapest one I could find ($24!) that would work with the existing harp, not be too wide (lampshades and walls were never meant to touch), and look pretty much cylindrical.

Hello, baaaaby.

And...  it's perfect!  I actually let out a little squeal after I attached the shade to the harp.  File that under "Things I Never Thought Would Make Me Squeal With Delight."  I couldn't tell what the trim was from the website- it's grosgrain ribbon, so it gives a little shine and a little contrasting texture.  Love it.  It's just classy enough without being fussy.  And it comes thisclose to touching the wall behind it but doesn't actually touch.

Ain't she pretty?

I think it gives the room a nice balance (especially when I picture the top of the piano decorated up like a mantel).  And it makes it so much easier to play piano after 7 pm because it's finally bright enough to easily read sheet music.

Work it.

Now I just have to wait for my October budget to kick in to start decorating!  Anyone have some good ideas for me?

Psst-  I've heard that several people have found it difficult to leave comments on my blog posts, and I love to hear from ya'll, so here's the quick and dirty how-to for commenting on blog posts.  Click the comments link at the bottom of the post.  Choose to comment as "name/url" from the drop down menu.  Enter your name, you can leave the url part blank.  Type in your comment, and then click "Publish."  Ta-da!  Go forth and comment, friends!

Sep 10, 2012

Let's Talk About Stools

By now you should know that you're never more than a few posts away from inappropriate bathroom humor with me.  Just to ease your mind, this has nothing to do with bathrooms.  It has to do with seating for piano-playing.

I am still in love with my antique upright grand piano from craigslist.  It's in amazing shape for being 99 years old.  But the previous owners didn't have a bench or a stool for it.  So I set off in search of a some piano seating.

There are a ton of antique piano stools on craigslist.  I love the ones with glass feet, like this:

It has talons.

I found two main problems with them, though.  They are expensive.  Like way more than I paid for the piano expensive.  Try at least $100 for one that's serviceable but in poor condition. and upwards of $200 for something nice.  Also, even if I did find a deal on a stool I liked, I would have no way to be sure that it'd match the piano short of hauling it home.  Do you think craigslist sellers offer a return policy for color-matching?  Um, no.

So I decided to just roll with it.  If it was going to be impossible to procure a "matching" stool for a price I was willing to pay, then I'd just look for something that purposely didn't match.  I still wanted a stool rather than a bench though.  It's not difficult to find height-adjustable stools, and a stool would be a lot easier to tuck deep under the piano or completely remove from the room should we need space for a project or a social gathering.  A stool would also work for extra seating in a pinch.

Our living room is already kind of eclectic.  The couch, framed photos, and turquoise drapes are modern.  The club chairs, grandfather clock, and piano are traditional.  The side tables by the couch and the TV stand are shabby chic.  The end table between the club chairs is rustic.  The coffee table is industrial.  That left me a lot of style leeway for finding an adjustable stool that could hit 22" or so.


So I did what I always do- I scoured the interwebs, pinned what I liked, and looked for a pattern.

It was pretty obvious.  I loved vintage metal industrial-style stools.  Then it was just a process of elimination (and waiting for a new month's decorating budget to kick in).  The one with the wooden top was under $50, but had so-so reviews and I didn't really dig the light-colored wood for the seat.  The four-leg one at the top may not have been low enough for correct posture.  The pewter four-leg one was from Crate & Barrel, so naturally it was out of my price range.

I ended up going with the three-leg stool with the metal seat.  It got great reviews, was around $80, and would for sure work for the height I wanted.  I ordered it in the darker color, called burnt wax.

And here she is!

In all her three-legged glory.

The color actually compliments really well.  It looks quite dark from across the room, almost black.  But when you get closer, you can see these great imperfections to it, like it's an old drafting stool someone pulled out of a forgotten city loft.

Vintagey yum.

It's nice and compact, so it tucks under the register easily when I'm done playing (if I remember to tuck it) which means less chances of stubbed toes.  And I am happy to report that it is more than adequately functional!  No wobbles, no sharp edges, no bent seat.  In fact, I piano playing has increased 300% in this house now that I don't have to stoop in front of the keys to play.  Although now that I am playing more, the piano's need for a good tune up has become more evident.  With any luck, we'll be able to budget for a piano tech to come out next month and whip it into shape.

Sep 6, 2012

Kitchen Rug Fail?

Welp, kitchen rug version 2.0 arrived.  It was wrapped in clear plastic so I was able to analyze the color right off the bat.  Mustard it ain't.

Maybe if I was colorblind...?

It looked green!  Like, really, really green (I'd characterize it as the split-pea variety)!  Not only was it not mustard-colored, it didn't resemble any shade of yellow.  At all.  Disappointed, I didn't even bother to open the packaging, knowing I'd just have to ship it back when I returned it.

Then, as I was preparing to send it back, I noticed something curious on the inventory tag.

Truth in advertising?

Olive!  Well, that explains it.  They must have sent me the wrong rug!  Determined now, I broke out the packing slip.

Just call me Velma.

A-ha!  More evidence that I was sent the wrong rug!  I emailed the company I bought it from, One Kings Lane, and was party to flurry of striving-for-customer-service-excellence emails with them.  I was asked to supply photos (little did she know I was already planning on supplying the whole interwebs with photos) and then told that the vendor would be contacted to see if they did indeed ship the incorrect item.


 So I waited and waited and waited (although I was kindly supplied with near-daily updates about "we're still waiting to hear from the vendor," which was nice.  And today I had my answer.

Thank you so much for your patience. The vendor has informed us that the item you received is the correct item. I understand that it doesn’t look exactly like the photo from the time of sale. We will be able to give you a 15% discount if you decide to keep the item. If you would rather return the item for a full refund, we can certainly accommodate that as well. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience.
Please let me know what the best resolution for you would be.

Crap.  So much for my sleuthing skills/wishful thinking.  The rug is going back.  At least the customer service was good.  Definitely could have been worse.  Still a bummer, though.  I ordered the perfect kitchen rug from One Kings Lane and all I got was this awesome customer service.

Sep 5, 2012

It's Curtains for the Drapes

Finito!!  I am D-O-N-E with the Crate & Barrel knock-off Bella Porte Citrine drapes in our dining room.

My goal was to get the all of the panels hemmed before I went back to work last Thursday.  I submit this picture as evidence of the state of panel #4 on Thursday.

So close, yet so far away.

No biggie, I finished them Friday morning.  Labor Day weekend = 4 day weekend 'round these parts.  I went the laziest route possible- I used hem tape while the drapes were still hung on the rods.  It actually made it really nice. I found that the rod hanging over our sliding door is just a smidge lower than the rod hanging over the big window, so I was able to adjust the hems by about half an inch to get the just-touching-the-floor look.  Here they are now:


 Yeah, I know you can't really see the hems.  Let's fix that, eh?

That trellis pattern just floats my boat.

 There you are!  Good little hem.  What, extreme close up, you say?


 Not bad for hem tape, if I do say so myself.  If you ever wondered what type of seamstress I am, terrible/lazy is your answer.  And for gratuity's sake, one more shot of my much-more-funned-up dining room.

View from the kitchen!

 You can't tell, but I've Spackled and sanded the holes from when our drapery rods were hung lower.  Now I just need to get some paint on those puppies, which I have been putting off because our matching paint is in a 5-gallon bucket and I hate trying to pour paint out of those bad boys.  Oh well, the drapes cover the holes, so I can just admire them and pretend there's nothing that needs to be painted!