Monthly Archives: April 2012

Termighty, Mighty Surprise

We’re all moved in, and the kitchen is unpacked. After two hours on my feet unpacking 20 cabinets worth of stuff in the hard, tiled kitchen on Sunday, I decided it was time for a bath.

And then, this happened.

 

What? No, I did not spill coffee grounds behind our toilet. So what looks like coffee grounds but is much more consistently shaped, less yummy, and more costly?

TERMITES!

To be more specific, termite poo.

 

So, here’s your lesson of the day. If you start seeing coffee in weird places in your house, don’t ignore it. Even if you just recently (like, three weeks ago) had a termite inspection that declared you termite-free.

The only reason I even knew what these were was because we had them in our last rental. The company that came to eradicate them pointed the droppings out to us and told us to be aware of them. Last time around, we were alerted to the presence of termites in a slightly more shocking way, though — Mister Mister feeling something on his neck, looking over at our living room lamp as we watched “Dog Day Afternoon” one evening, and seeing a black coat of larvae on our lampshade.

Zoinks!

Oh, and lots of these pretty much all over the place.

 

See all those cloudy teardrop things? Wings. Tiny little termite wings of doom.

Drywood termites are way too common down here. An inspection uncovering that your house was previously treated is not all that uncommon, and didn’t strike any undue fear in my heart. But it’s swarm season, folks, which means all these blind little monsters are looking for new buffets, flocking to light sources, and shedding their wings all over your stuff.

Termite sign #1:

– Wings, little wingless, footless bugs crawling on your lampshades, and something that looks like ants with long wings flying around all your lightbulbs.

Termite sign #2:

– Piles of coffee ground poo in strange areas throughout your house (How considerate and well-trained were they that they did their duty in the bathroom, though?)

Termite sign #3:

– Kickholes (We can’t distinguish between kickholes — the holes termites bore in walls and baseboards to kick their poo out of — and regular holes in our sorta-sloppily-remodeled home, but I’m pretty sure I found one right above the bathroom pile)

Termite sign #4:

– Bubbly walls (Termites eat from the inside out, leaving a thin layer of veneer or paint over just total destruction, giving a bubbly appearance), rotted wood, splinters and shards — thankfully, it hadn’t gotten that bad for us.

Now, these are all specific to drywood termites, which live whereever they want as long as there’s food. They can come in through fixtures, openings, attics, whatevs. Then there are the slightly more sinister — and far more costly in terms of treating — subterranean termites, which build colonies underground and eat your shizz from the bottom up. Signs include “mud tubes” on your exterior walls, muddy holes, and all manner of total annihilation.

You may be asking, “But didn’t you say you had a termite inspection before moving in, and it was all clear?” Why yes — yes, I did. I got a little bent out of shape about this yesterday, after our pest control company left an invoice for $899 for their 6-hour Timbor-and-Termidor treatment to be performed today. I called our realtor, who called the inspection company, who called us offering to come back and take a look. I may or may not have told them that they can take a look at my ass, and that we have no confidence in them so thanks but no thanks. Harsh? Perhaps. But only slightly more harsh was our realtor — who was so accommodating before we bought the house — telling me that there’s no way the inspection company would have missed this, the $899 sounds too expensive, who the heck is this company you’re using anyway because I’ve never heard of them, and that I need to understand it’s swarm season and that they probably weren’t there three weeks ago.

Thank you for completely mishandling my situation and making me feel like I’m crazy for SEEING TERMITES WITH MY OWN TWO EYES LAST NIGHT.

After a bit of research, it seems this kind of thing *does* happen. Inspectors can’t see through walls, and they can’t see what’s not there. Sure, there may have been some chompers happily munching on wood, but if their dining area was inaccessible or they just happened to be really chill about their activity, our inspector could have totally missed it. Which is precisely why they have a clause in their report that states, “The results of this inspection do not constitute a guarantee that there are no termites/no structural damage, only that we didn’t see any that day.” Or something like that. So of course I get all ballistic, screaming “THEN WHY HAVE A TERMITE INSPECTION IF A TERMITE INSPECTION DOESN’T GUARANTEE YOU HAVE NO TERMITES.” But really, ballistic is just my default emotion. That, and sheer sobbing panic.

Thankfully, we have a really awesome pest control company that referred a really awesome termite company to us. We pay that $899, and we’re protected for a year (they’ll come out unlimited times for free to retreat if needed throughout the year but they shouldn’t have to), and then we pay $150 per year for the same benefits on a renewal basis. Really not shabby for a home in a state that attracts pretty much every pest known to man.

So, if you’re nervous about termites, you might want to spring for a second inspection before buying your home. Or, get another one after you move in. The termite business is a mighty costly racket… but I mean, so is the contracting business, and the foreclosure business, and the bankruptcy business.

I Need a Sexy Wingback

I know this isn’t Tumbler, but I don’t have anything else to say today and I really wanted to write the post title above in reaction to this news.

Up Until 2: Finishing “Six Feet Under”

Last night, I finally finished watching all five seasons of “Six Feet Under.” I was up until 2 a.m., because I started with three seasons left and just couldn’t stop.

There are plenty of horrifyingly depressing films I have subjected myself to over the years — “House of Sand and Fog,” “Schindler’s List,” “Requiem for a Dream,” “Mystic River.” I’ve even seen most of them more than once. But none of them compare with the 63 hours of horrifyingly depressing HBO Original Series I have let wash over me for the past few weeks.

It was around the end of the 3rd season that I realized this was not going to end well. I can’t even talk about some of my favorite moments without giving away major plot points. And while many people would say that spoilers are moot for a series that’s been over for seven years, I’m here to tell you, they are not. Because I spoiled myself on the ending of this series 2 seasons ago.

Suffice it to say that most of anything that came out of Ruth’s mouth was The Best Ever.

And most of what came out of Nate’s mouth when he wasn’t being completely judgmental and idealistic.

“I live in a shitty apartment that was supposed to be temporary. I work at a job that was also supposed to be temporary until I figured out what I really wanted to do with my life, which apparently is nothing. I have lots of sex, but I haven’t had a relationship last more than a couple of months. I don’t even have the self-discipline to floss daily. I’ve had four root canals. Four. I’m thirty-five. I’ve had four root canals.”

Which made me laugh out loud, because I’m 31 and I’ve had two.

And Claire for like, the entire season 4 when she was a total and complete asshole. Because who hasn’t been there?

And David. No, like, David was The Best Ever. And I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to see anybody but Dexter… not so.

I felt like I had lost my best friend when it was over. I loved everybody at their worst because it was real. Life is messy and terrible shit happens in the middle of it. Sometimes there are happy endings. Sometimes there aren’t. Nobody is happy just for the sake of being happy. And when everything’s coming up roses, it’s usually a sign that shit’s about to hit the fan.

10 of my favorite quotes (just because they happen to be the 10 I can think of)

  1. “I know stealing a foot is weird. But hello, living in a house where a foot is available to be stolen is weird!”
  2. “I wish that just once people wouldn’t act like the clichés that they are.”
  3. “Is that the best anybody could come up with — Father, Husband, Caregiver?” “How would you prefer it — Introvert, Sadist, Mindfucker?”
  4. “Been running? It’s bad for the knees.” “Everything’s bad for something.”
  5. “You know what I find interesting? If you lost a spouse, you’re called a widow, or a widower. If you’re a child and you lose your parents, then you’re an orphan. But what’s the word to describe a parent who loses a child? I guess that’s just too fucking awful to even have a name.”
  6. “Is that some sort of Quaker thing? You fuck somebody’s husband to death and then you bring them a quiche?”
  7. “Well, I know that if you think life is a vending machine, where you put in virtue and you get out happiness, then you’ll probably be disappointed.”
  8. “The only god I know is a mean-spirited comedian in ugly pants whose every joke has the same damn punchline.”
  9. “If you were a gay mortician, what would you want for Christmas?” “A new life?”
  10.  “You can’t take a picture of this. It’s already gone.”

10 Favorite Episodes

  1. E4S1 “Familia” – Each episode features a death that is overlaid with personal and familial tribulations. In this one, a gang member dies and his leader wants to take things over. Some funeral homes would shy from holding a gangland funeral. Fisher & Sons did not — to great dramatic effect.
  2. E13S1 “Knock, Knock” – The final scene of this episode was one of the most touching things I’ve ever seen. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that Nate helps David comes to terms with the death of their father in a unique and incredibly impactful way.
  3. E1S2 “Out, Out Brief Candle” – A college football star dies of heat exhaustion at practice, and Nate has to face what that means for him.
  4. E8S2 “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – The first anniversary of Nathaniel’s death has the family reminiscing about their last time with him.
  5. E13S2 “The Last Time”
  6. E11S3 “Death Works Overtime” – Each episode starts with a death. This starts with 3 — and shows Nate dealing with an incredible emotional cliffhanger that stretches out over 4 episodes.
  7. E5S4 “That’s My Dog” – Lucas from “House” makes the creepiest crackhead.
  8. E12S4 “Untitled” – Claire is a total asshole at this point, and Nate finally gets some closure (though it’s not pretty)
  9. E9S5 “Ecotone” – I just… can’t.
  10. E12S5 “Everyone’s Waiting” – Maybe the best series finale of all time.

I found myself placing more time in between episodes as I reached the last season. I didn’t want it to end. And I seriously considered watching the whole thing over again. That happened once before, with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (the book, not the movie). But I don’t know how ready I am for total emotional annihilation, so I think I’ll just watch “Downton Abbey” instead.

A Table Without Chairs is Like a Skyscraper with no Stairs

In other words, completely illogical and a little dangerous.

As we eagerly await the completion of our custom-made farmhouse dining room table, my next obsession is the chairs that surround it. I love a good juxtaposition — and particularly with the midcentury modern coffee table and buffet in the adjoining living room, and vaguely MCM IKEA Karlstad sectional we plan on buying, it didn’t make sense to me to stay traditional or rustic with the seating at the farmhouse table.

For refreshers, our table will look something like this.

I’m a sucker for a farmhouse table surrounded by more modern chairs — particularly white chairs that offset the dark wood.

Bella Mancini Designs

Like so.
Filling up precious space on my Pinterest Dining Room board, we have the following contenders.
The IKEA Erland: Simple, affordable, easy to keep clean, modern, and white.
The World Market Metal Tub Chair: I love the industrial vibe and classic shape, but worry the arms would make it jut out too much while tucked into the table in between meals.
The West Elm Klismos: I love this clean, modern take on the Klismos chair, but Mister Mister thinks it looks uncomfortable.
The Pottery Barn Tolix: The chair of my dreams, the price tag of my nightmares.
The West Elm Scoop Back: Not a bad price, and pretty darn close to the chairs in my inspiration photo.
The West Elm Modern Windsor in white: I really love how it has this traditional captain’s chair vibe but is more sleek and modern than the oak eyesores of the early ’80s.
The Restoration Hardware Vintage Steel Metal Chair: This redundantly named beauty is actually darn affordable — I was surprised at RH’s prices on dining room chairs — even though it’s a bit of a departure from the remainder of the wishlist. It’s just so damn awesome.
The Restoration Hardware French Cafe Chair in weathered oak: Oh, God I love you.
The Overstock Sonore Solid Wood Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chair: I love the shape, but I’m not really clear on Overstock’s quality. I’m also kind of put off by how dodgy they’re being with the type of wood
(solid wood with a “walnut-like” stain?)

And last, but not least, the IKEA Preben: It’s kind of a step in a different direction, but I like how it doesn’t scream IKEA and is also upholstered (even though it might be tough to keep clean).

So what do you think? I’m leaning toward the West Elm Scoop Back, IKEA Erland, or Restoration Hardware Vintage Steep Metal Chair.

Do you have a dining room chair that you love? Do you fancy juxtaposed-decor as much as I do?

Whining and Dining: My Goldilocks Table Syndrome, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Craigslist

It all started with a table: The West Elm Carroll 88″ Farm Table

West Elm

Perfect in my mind, it was much roomier than our current 60-inches-with-a-leaf table with a creaky leg. We could have dinner parties and game nights, with up to 8 people lovingly crowded around its dark stained, rustic-yet-modern form.

And then we visited the house again, and did some measuring, and came to the conclusion that the table might be too large.

My friend Michelle said, buy the table you love! You’ll work around it.

But in my heart, I knew that the No. 1 most frustrating thing about our current dining room/kitchen setup was how difficult it is to dine in there, squished against the walls and all.

I even started polling my friends, in the hopes that somebody would tell me, buy the table you love! You’ll work around it.

But nobody (other than Michelle) did.

So I searched far and wide. Unfortunately, the other Carroll option was 66″ — which we decided was a smidge too small.

Do you know how difficult it is to find a dining room table in my rustic-champagne taste on a craft-beer-yet-beer-nonetheless budget?

There was the West Elm Industrial Table, which has the benefit of being that middle area width of 72″, yet the downside of costing about 200 smackers more than the Carroll. Plus, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the metal leg/wooden tabletop in the long run.

There was the Napa from World Market — a source I hadn’t really considered previously, but one that yielded lots of nifty options. The price was right, and it got great reviews, and I do like me some acacia. This one was a front-runner for sure.

Then we’ve got the Parsons Teak Top table from Crate & Barrel — oh, C&B, the keeper of my much-neglected wedding registry. How fair thee art. And how pricey — yowza!

And finally, for something a little different, the Pottery Barn Toscana fixed width 70″ table. Mmm, Pottery Barn. Totally insane prices, totally insane pieces.

In a fit of whimsy, late yesterday afternoon I decided to post my quandary on Facebook and see if anybody knew of a handy person who might be able to custom-make a table for us. For one, it just might cost a little less, especially when you factor shipping and handling, which often added $200 to $300 onto the price of a table. Plus it would do that whole “supporting local artisans” thing. It was worth a shot, right?

That’s when an out-of-town Facebook friend took it upon herself to do a quick search on Craigslist in my area for “farmhouse table” and uncovered this dude:

I don’t know, man. Some dude who made himself a table, and who’s going to be totally on time and conscientious with making ours? While we sit around twiddling our thumbs wondering what else we could find?

But I emailed him. And he got right back to me. And we went over to his house to take a look at his sample table (aka his dining room table). And it’s even more amazing and beautiful and wonderful in person. And sturdy. And it’s $400 for whatever size we want. And he can have it done in a week.

And he has a couple of really cute dogs. Just sayin’.

So there we have it: Our journey from “NEEDING THAT TOO-BIG TABLE” to, “Not being able to find what we really want,” to, “We’re not at all handy but this really nice guy is going to make us a totally cool and unique table for a fraction of what stupid Pottery Barn wants.”

Next up: Dining room chairs.

Did you have Goldilocks syndrome with other major pieces in your house — too big, too little, just not right?

SIUY: The New DIY

SIUY: Screw-it-up-yourself. Which I’m apparently awesome at.

The things I demonstrated this weekend to my neighbors:

1. I’m unaware of the right tool for the job, as evidenced by my use of a 12V hand drill to create 1″ deep holes in concrete block.

Can we just leave the house numbers like this?

2. I’m a daredevil, as evidence by my use of a step stool that’s about 2 feet too short for me to safely unscrew and remove an exterior porch light.

3. I’m better off using a handyman to install weatherstripping, as evidenced by my completely inappropriate selection of a door sweep, crooked installation of said sweep, lack of a hack saw to cut my jamb weatherstripping to size, and complete lack of desire to purchase and use a hacksaw. At least at this point in time.

Before. Dude… 

No doubt I’ll force myself to become more handy as homeownership wears on, but the fact that I’m commuting between our current place and the new place everytime I want to start a project really puts a damper on my can-do spirit.

Did you disappoint yourself — and any onlookers — with your total initial failure in the DIY department?

Reader Poll: What Color Window Treatments?

Clearly, the most important thing of all time is the color of our window treatments. We’ve about settled on roman shades because I don’t want to have to dust a million blind slats, and I’m not a huge curtain fan. I found some with a solid price, so I used my mad Photoshop skills to show you our color options — narrowed down to two.

I went ahead and added in the sofa we’re looking to buy in the color we want, along with a snippet of our current area rug. Again, totally professional design job here. You’re welcome.

So, which will it be?

First up, we have espresso. Pros are that it seems to blend better with everything. Cons are that I feel like it’s almost too putty colored for the walls.

Then, there’s classic white. Pros are that it’s white, white goes with everything, and it makes everything seem a bit brighter here, no? Cons are that we have a black and white cat, and white gets dirty. Addendum: We have a washer and dryer and a lint roller, and don’t plan on having peanut butter parties all over our windows.

Side poll: Do you think this dark brown sofa looks OK with our almost cherry-colored floors?

Try to picture this with nice throw pillows in a pop of color, and without a mop in the corner.

 

Home, Sweet Home: We Bought a House

Well, we did it. We bought ourselves a house.

A concrete block midcentuy house, to be exact.

Buying a house is no laughing matter. I managed not to cry throughout the process… OK, I cried a little during the two times we didn’t think we were going to get it at all. But mainly, I just entertained a lot of stomach upset and accomplished very little of a constructive nature during the past 45 days.

It’s on a pretty quiet little street about 2 miles from where we currently live.

It’s got a cute little porch where we can swing and drink lemonade. Or, neglect it for months with big dream to buy some front porch furnishings. We did, however, buy a welcome mat.

Bone Jour doormat from Bed Bath and Beyond

Open floor plan? Check. Humongo kitchen? Check. Good sized dining room? Check.

The house was remodeled so we got new laminate flooring, kitchen cabinets, granite countertops (totally controversial, but I love them), and appliances.

It’s insanely irritating to be closed off in our tiny little rental house kitchen while company chitter chats in the front room and offers to help even though there’s zero room to help. This is much… much better. Oh, and is that a second sink? Why yes. Yes, it is.

It’s got two bathrooms and three bedrooms.

Sizable closets.

 And a bad ass back yard.

 

It’s a split level, so we can escape flooding and potentially annoy door-to-door salesmen with our two flights of stairs leading up to the front door. Hopefully.

I’m happy to say we already dropped a buttload of dough at Bed Bath and Beyond, just to deck out the hall bathroom.

So much has happened throughout this whole process. First, we thought the house was too expensive. Then, they accepted our stupid low offer the day it was listed. Then, the inspection uncovered an 18-year-old roof. The sellers said they had no cash to replace. We decided to withdraw. They decided they had cash. We got a new roof.

Boom.

The last week or so was a cray-cray blur of wind mitigation inspections and nail biting and final inspections having to be redone and last-minute repairs and a clear to close on a Saturday morning before a Tuesday scheduled close. Oh, and a ridiculously fortunate stroke of luck that resulted in us saving about $1,500 in closing costs and $200 a month.

No big.

Now, it’s time to furnish and decorate. Craigslist, here we come. Stay tuned for manymany polls on what color shades and couch to pick and where to put our end tables. Because this is really serious stuff.