darkemeralds: Shirtless construction worker. Caption "Home Improvement" (Home Improvement)
The kitchen soffit project is more or less done. I about killed my hands doing it--lots of awkward drilling and gripping and twisting and lifting of parts. (There have been two days of high-dose ibuprofen and some serious tapping on ideas like "losing my grip" and "hanging on for dear life"--but that's a story for another time.)

A few pix. )
darkemeralds: Shirtless construction worker. Caption "Home Improvement" (Home Improvement)
The first big push of the patch season was over on Friday. Finally! Working till 7:30 every evening was getting old. I think I can make my Zumba class tonight for the first time in a couple of weeks!

With the reprieve from patch-season stress, I was also able to summon up the mental power for a couple of projects at home.

The first of them is the Glass Soffit Project, which has turned into the Acrylic Soffit Project.

TAP Plastics supplied me with some nice thick frosted acrylic sheet material on Saturday, precision cut and drilled in less than an hour. It's lighter and more transportable than glass. Cheaper, too. And involves way less lead time. For someone with a bike and hardly any free time, it was a perfect choice.

I managed to mask off and prep and paint everything in the awkward soffit space above the cabinets near the ceiling. The frosted panels and some LEDs are going to turn that space from unsightly dark cave of Prior Homeowner Ineptitude to a sort of glowing overhead box of tasteful (and yet magenta) loveliness.

That's the plan, anyway.

Patch Season Part II begins next week and runs to December 6th. I'm enjoying the breathing space while it lasts.
darkemeralds: Screencap from Life on Mars with caption Welcome To The Team (Welcome to the Team)
It's patch season at work. We apply updates to the financial system, and it takes many, many person-hours to accomplish a set of assiduous and detailed testing tasks, a disproportionate number of them labeled with my name.

So I've been putting in the extra hours as required, arriving before 9:00 and not getting home till near 8:00 p.m., and it's driving me CRAZY. I'm a detail-oriented person, but nobody has this much focus. The work structure is full of interruptions and conflicting demands. Yesterday I managed a whole two hours of focus on a particularly heinous test (involving, of all the dire things, taxation), but only at the expense of being rude to some people.

In the win column: a wonderful new healthcare provider has assured me that my recent brain fog is definitely not a disease state, and almost certainly the result of hormonal imbalance. So I'm now on a hormone regimen and reorganizing myself around restored mental capacity, and it's pretty fantastic.

Now if I could just get some time--time to myself, time to think, time to knit, time to write, time to work on my kitchen soffit project--the world would be awesome.
darkemeralds: Shirtless construction worker. Caption "Home Improvement" (Home Improvement)
It's been awhile since I've done anything much to my house. Saving for a big trip chokes off the home-improvement funds, and after the trip there's the whole OMG-I'm-broke thing. Then too, I'm determined to retire in two years and that means saving like crazy.

At the same time, winter's coming, I'm indoors a lot, and my poor little house's many defects and flaws really start shouting at me right around now. What to do?

Well, DIY, I guess. I have a detailed kitchen remodeling plan which will cost second mortgage levels of money to complete, and no new mortgage is in my future (because good lord, if we haven't learned anything else these past three years...) but what if I could do some of it myself, for the cost of materials?

I mean, how hard could it be, right?



Mar. 14th, 2009 04:02 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
I believe that a person can live comfortably in 600 square feet. Graciously, even, provided those square feet are well-designed.

One thing has bugged me since I moved into my comfortable little 600-square foot house, years ago: about ten percent of the space in here is absolutely wasted. That ten percent could be the dining area I've never had, and recapturing it would make the difference between comfortable and gracious.

That's what my "kitchen remodel in a weekend" is all about. The kitchen needs to shrink so the living room can expand to hold a dinner table and four chairs.

But here's the problem: for the kitchen to be smaller, dammit, I need appliances and fixtures on a European scale, not "family-sized" American ones. Why does it cost a freakin' fortune to live in a smaller space? Why does a 24" refrigerator cast twice as much as a 36" one?

But I soldier on.

Progress. )


Mar. 8th, 2009 09:55 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
I was hoping to get all the way from "before" to "after" in the Kitchen Remodel in a Weekend project, but I'm still at "during".

About 75% done )

So, getting there. It's going to be a couple more evenings. Off to the Bathtub of Resuscitation for me.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
The unexpected outcomes of Project Empty continue to occupy my free time and brainspace...and, I sheepishly report, my wallet.

I wasn't going to buy new stuff--especially not "storage solutions". The last thing I wanted was new containers for old crap. Which was a great intention, but I didn't see the kitchen explosion coming.

When I was eating from restaurants and packages, the storage space in my kitchen was fine. But when I started preparing twenty-one meals a week at home, things got out of hand.

Befores and afters in the Project Empty tradition. )

So, the level of stuff falls a lot, then rises a little, as the whole lifestyle changes. I wish I could say that I've stopped acquiring new things, but all I can really claim is that the influx of stuff into my life has dropped off sharply.

The quality of my life seems to keep going up.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Thanks to all my encouraging and enthusiastic co-Project Emptyers, I was able to push past the disinterest (fear's best disguise) and take another thin slice off the block-o'-clutter this evening.

Progress. )

The tally as of tonight: 36 spaces cleared, 44 more to go.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Help! Project Empty is in danger of succumbing to my Serial Enthusiasm Syndrome. As with every single thing I've ever undertaken in my life, once I get my arms around the general theory, I get bored. But I'm not done with Project Empty yet! My house is still partially full. I really want to keep going.

Inspiring friends, big insights, and the will to carry on. )

A bunch of my friends are doing Project Empties of their own, and reporting on their successes here. [livejournal.com profile] roseambr has a great junk drawer post, complete with amusing and impressive pictures, that gave me a kick in the ass this evening. I, too, have a kitchen drawer...
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Project Empty is sweeping the planet! I got the idea from [livejournal.com profile] avventura1234, who lent me her feng shui book and encouraged me to take the "thin-slice" approach. Now [livejournal.com profile] roseambr is doing it, and [livejournal.com profile] altariel has likewise reported catching the bug.

Me, I used my weekend to clear three more clutter areas. I keep noticing new hoards, and subdividing known ones, so that from 66 total areas, I'm up to 79. Thirty-four of them are now clutter-free.

Ruthlessness. It can't be over-emphasized. )

Next up: finding the courage to tackle the really fossilized hoard-o'-crap in my bedroom. Stay tuned...

ETA: Wow! Take a look at what [livejournal.com profile] avventura1234 has cleared! I was there for part of it, so I know it's an amazing achievement, but the pictures are really, really cool. Like, HGTV cool.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
::Flops exhaustedly to couch::

Over the last couple of weekends, I've made two trips to Home Depot, three visits to the corner hardware store, three jaunts to IKEA; I've used up 40 hollow-wall anchors, a Ryobi battery pack, a Philips screwdriver bit, and a quart each of drywall mud, primer, and paint; and I've required several ibuprofen tablets...

Huge strides in Project Empty: Get Rid of My Crap. )

Holy shit, that was a lot of work! That's FOURTEEN areas done now. Fifty-two more to go.

I'm going to bed.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
I've got a double sink in my kitchen. Under it is a cabinet designated, for Project Empty purposes, Area 3.2b: Kitchen, Under Sink Cabinet, Main.

Area 3.2b is the third most toxic area in Project Empty, after the mudroom and the Shelves Where Home Depot Ate My Paycheck, and I wasn't planning on tackling it anytime soon. But Project Empty seems to be developing its own personality. The Qi of the house, as it were, has been awakened by my efforts so far and is taking charge.

Seriously. This is kind of weird. )

In other Project Empty news, I'm halfway through putting up my custom-lighted shelves in the re-plastered living room corner. And tomorrow's a holiday! I expect to make the Qi happier still before the long weekend is over.

ETA: Okay. This is freaking me out. I wrote all of the above while taking a break from shelf installation to recharge my drill. The moment I typed "I expect to make the qi happier still," there was a crash from the kitchen. The case the drill lives in had fallen, and all the little drill bits had spilled out onto the kitchen floor.

This Qi is a harsh mistress. I don't dare linger. Back to work.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
The thing about IKEA is that you go there to look at kitchen cabinets and go, "Oooh, cabinet! $39!" and somehow when they ring you up for everything you need in order to actually install two of them, like doors and stuff, it's $345 and you're too embarrassed to say, "Whoops, I was in fantasyland."

So I ponied up. It's all part of Project Empty, my new hobby.

[livejournal.com profile] avventura1234 helped steady my nerves getting through IKEA--honestly, is there a portkey to a graveyard in the middle of that store?--and load the heavy flat-packs into my car. Now they're lined up in my kitchen, and as soon as I finish drinking this restorative pot of tea I'm going to flex my Allen wrenches and start assembling the thing.

Here's the Before picture that this cabinet purchase is intended to make an After picture out of. Note: this represents Project Empty, Area 3.1. It's in my kitchen.

Try not to scream. )

Oh, and for the tally of Project Empty completed areas (and I can't emphasize enough how important it's been to slice this project very, very thinly):
  • 7.1 Outdoor areas: Front porch
  • 2.8 Bedroom nightstand a: top surface
  • 2.8 Bedroom nightstand b: drawer
Only 63 more to go.

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