The Story About the Filing Cabinet

Hello Blog! I have a project for you, and it isn’t edible! Though, in case you’re wondering, yes, I am still eating tortilla soup and smoothies (and cupcakes this week, whoops.), and I’m not even going to get into all the fun facts I’ve learned about protein/general food consumption and building muscle mass in the last week. (Hint: you can’t just eat tortilla soup and smoothies.)

Sharing this project is slightly embarrassing (okay, yes, most things I post here are slightly embarrassing), as the iphoto events timeline tells me I started this one in um…August. Neat. At least I’m consistent—on my application for NECCA I said that one of my biggest flaws is that I start projects and don’t finish them. But this one is DONE. It only took seven months. Also slightly embarrassing, is that naturally, when I begat said project in my mind-grapes, I promised Nick that I’d finish it that weekend. Poor, gullible, Nick.

I, like possibly most of you, am susceptible to the sweet siren song of the Container Store and its devil ilk. Obviously if I had eight jute baskets, and twelve photo boxes with pink polka dots on them, I would do my damn dishes, put my clothes in the laundry basket, not leave my shit everywhere. But, there is no Container Store nearby, thank baby jesus; so this summer when Nick was seething because our hideous futon was a pile of Stacey-stuffs, I was seething because I literally had no place in our loft that was just Mine. Back then our upstairs looked like this:

Not like this:

Though, currently my desk is covered in earplugs, so it doesn’t really look like that either.

In any case, I demanded a room desk of my own. While I sketched out desk plans that I never got to build, I realized I needed more storage, and decided that I would just give an old filing cabinet a bit of a face lift and that would be that.

And here, gentle readers, is my dirty storage secret. I think when most people think about storage, they think ‘oh, I will put my mail in this compartment, and my pens in this one, and my collection of snails in the snail holder.’ Not so, for me. Part of the allure of the file cabinet was its cavernous drawers. I like storage because then I can just pile my junk in there, shut the door, forget about it, and Nick will stop yelling at me. I had absolutely ZERO idea what I was going to put in the filing cabinet, but I knew I was going to fill it with Stuff.

So, off we went to the Goodwill, and because I am an impatient beast, I bought this beauty for ten bucks, instead of waiting for something slightly less horrific.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was covered in rust, and there was some irreparable damage to the back where it’d been kicked in, but no one was going to see that. I scraped as much rust off as I could, gave it a quick scrub and a vacuum, then we hauled that sucker outside and got to spray painting. There are some cool file cabinet makeovers out there (also some not so cool ones)–some people use wallpaper to great effect, I chose the good ole’ shake and spray. I did use a spray primer on it, but honestly, I’m not sure what good it did. There’s the Nick approach to spray painting…

And then there’s the Stacey—aka the sit on your ass because you are Just That Lazy. And yes, we neglected to put down newspaper, and the condo people asked us very nicely to not do that again or they’d be (more) annoyed.

 And here’s where Delay Number One occurred: The next day there was a hurricane. Er, tropical storm. Either way, hard to spray-paint a stencil in a downpour.

Then I got hung up on stencil ideas (Delay Number Two).

Then, while I was visiting my parents in Minnesota, Nick banged together a desk for me for not entirely selfless reasons. When I got home I put the cabinet in it’s new spot ‘for now’, which was a fatal mistake. Because now I had a filing cabinet—albeit undecorated and without handles—but I could still put Stuff in it. So I did. Oops.(Delay Number Three).

This brings us to October, when I went to Vermont for fabric teacher training and came back with a cast and crutches to a snowpocalypse. And then it was suddenly winter, and I couldn’t haul a filing cabinet outside with a cast on my foot anyway. (Delay Number Four).

To my credit, I took that bleak wintery time to finalize a design and cut it out of plastic. Then on a particularly balmy January day, I headed outside and managed to spray paint the top drawer, but alas it started to rain.

 Yesterday I finally managed to finish the deed, and here we are:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yes, it is filled with stuff.

And that’s how you take seven months to finish a two day projects!

Hopefully this sudden March-warmness is not just a phase. If it’s not, it will definitely mean the start of more project-y fun—it’s just too hard to cut lumber outside when everything’s covered in ice. Also, the whole applying for circus school shenanigans are about to be done with (I got an audition, (yay) which is next weekend, and then I just have to wait for news), so that will also free us some time, but lest you worry, the circus show is still in full swing to steal time from project-doing!

I will leave you with the following text from Nick as a closing statement:

‘Hi! I just tried to eat a ball of tightly crumpled up paper because I mistook it for a piece of broken pretzel. I didn’t realize my error until I started chewing the now soggy paper ball. This is probably how Tesla feels all the time, but he is psyched about it I think.’

Yes. He is a verbose text-er. Have a good weekend!

Black Iron Pipe Bookshelves: Traumarama

Raise your hand if you’re bored of cookie recipes and block prints of my dog and other crafty things.

 

Yeah? I’m not, but that’s okay.  Domestic ass-kickery isn’t for everyone.*

Ergo I have a long overdue story for you!

A while back I said I’d talk about the plumbing pipe shelves we put up in our living room, so here we are.

Lots of times DIY is billed as easy and fun, because lots of times ‘DIY’ is actually crafting owls out of felt or making cardboard gourd place settings (not pointing fingers here). But. Newsflash. That’s actually arts and crafts. DIY is popular and stylish now, like being ‘sustainable’ is popular and stylish now, so everything is easy and fun. But sometimes, actual DIY isn’t fun at all. Sometimes DIY involves smashing your bathtub to bits with a sledgehammer (okay, kind of fun), or arguing for hours about wall tile, or getting drywall dust in your eye.

So, because it’s not always fun, and it’s not always easy, here is a story about one of those not fun, not easy times:

It’s more or less impossible to wander around the DIY Sector of the Internet (is that even a thing?) these days without tripping over tutorials for pipe shelves or pipe lights or even pipe pot lid racks so this is by no means a tutorial. Check out the end of this post for a roundup of some neat pipe stuff, which includes tutorials.

So. ‘What’s the big deal with making stuff out of plumbing pipe?’ you might ask. Well, as far as I can tell, there are really two reasons for the current craze :  1. Things made out of pipe look so damn cool (which is not to say that all things made out of pipe are cool); 2. The possibilities for what you can make out of regular ole’ plumbing pipe are pretty much endless. As far as I can tell, none of the reasons for making pipe shelves involves cost effectiveness. Plumbing pipe is pretty expensive, so between that, and the fact that we used bigger pipe than normal, as well as our locally sourced lumber, this project was actually pretty expensive. We could have saved a lot of money by buying bookshelves on craigslist—instead we sold the ones we already had. Well, actually we left it out by the elevator for a couple of weeks until someone took it away, but you know…whatevskis.

 

The thing that sets our project apart from the others out there is the sheer scale of it. It is seriously huge. For comparison, here’s a pretty typical pipe shelf, from apartment therapy.

And here’s ours:

Most BIP (Black Iron Pipe) projects utilize pipe and fittings with a ½” inch diameter. Us? We used 1” inch.

 

The shelves themselves are 1” thick planks of rough-hewn cedar from a local sawmill. They’re 10 feet long, and there are 7 of them.

 

We do not joke around.

 

The downside, naturally, of having such a bomb-proof bookshelf, is that it was a pain in the ass to make. Most people talk about how making BIP shelves are super easy. Ours…were not. They involved a blasphemous amount of swearing.

Nothing about this project was easy. Not even getting all the fittings and pipe was simple, because we needed a thousand of each piece. We made a lot of trips to a variety of hardware stores. Long, long trips. It got to such a state that I told Nick that for every hour he left me waiting on the floor of Lowe’s playing Angry Birds he had to cut a month off the time before he proposes. (I was joking. Kind of.) To the pipe shelves, I have this to say: ‘dear plumbing pipe shelves, thank you for cutting half a year off of our pre-engagement.’

Yes, I jest, but there were some seriously miserable scenarios that came out of trying to get all the pipe pieces. Like the night I needed to run out and get a piece of trim for my vanity, and Nick said we had to go to Home Depot (which is not a mile away, unlike Lowes) so that he could get some pipe cut and threaded (Lowes will not cut pipe shorter than 15 inches, FYI), which would only take a minute. I sat on the floor in the plumbing aisle for over an hour while Nick got pipes threaded, until they kicked us out because it was closing time.

Or the time, when after a long day of rock climbing, Nick decided to run into Lowes while I got some groceries for dinner, and then he would meet me in the parking lot. That was a long phone call to my mother in Minnesota.

 

But it was hard for Nick too. No place had everything he needed, Lowes wouldn’t cut his pipe, and I know that something got messed up and he had to exchange a lot of the pipe he’d just spent hours running around and getting cut and threaded because he needed a different size.

I don’t think anyone ever said that DIY projects are good for your relationship, but I also don’t think they’re bad. So, when I say there was a lot of swearing, I must make a note that almost none of it was directed at each other, which was nice.

I kind of fondly remember one night when Nick was trying to assemble the bookshelves and it was not working, and I was trying to assemble one of the doors on the vanity and it was not working. We swore a lot, and told each other it was okay, and decided that sometimes making out is way more awesome than even home improvement projects.


The first step of making anything out of BIP is that you have to wash the pipe and get all the sticky stuff off. When I say ‘this was a major pain’ I mean it took us basically an entire day just to get the pipe cleaned, de-gooed, and spray painted. It also took a lot of spray paint.

And then we thought the hard part was over. And we were so wrong.

 

Many of the pieces were threaded funny, which resulted in a lot of places where the pipe was actually kind of crooked, and thus would not fit through the holes Nick had drilled for them. This whole problem wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the space between our shelves wasn’t so short—if we’d used longer pipes, the crookedness would have been a lot easier to deal with, and it also would have been a lot less noticeable. It’s much harder to see when three long pipes threaded together are crooked, than when eight shorter pipes are threaded together.

The night Nick tried to assemble it all was a disaster, and the only thing to do, which is so hard sometimes, was for him to give up, and try solutions the next day. It worked. We now have badass bookshelves, because Nick? He’s kind of a badass.

 

They look like this:

 It took me about five minutes to cover them with books. Nick has since tried to bribe me with a Kindle if I promised not to buy any more books. I laughed at him.

________________________________________________________________________

*I can get away with saying this because you can’t see my kitchen. Ha!

Here are some links relating to things built out of plumbing pipe, and other people’s less traumatic adventures with them:

Apartment Therapy: DIY Gods of Spanish Harlem

DIY Diva: When Your Closet is Nicer than your Living Space

The Brick House: Shelving Unit Tutorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tis the Season…for Gingerbread. And Blizzards. And Crutches.

Dear Internet,

I generally have tried to keep this blog more ‘YAY PROJECTS!!1!!’ and less ‘Woe is my life’ because that’s lame and projects are awesome. But, oh, internet, I have a story for you. And a gingerbread recipe. But that comes second.

After the crazy week of lots of gigs and work and not lots of sleep, I had a day or two to recover before hoofing it to Vermont last Thursday for Fabric Teacher Training. All of that was jim dandy and enlightening until Saturday evening, when, with some time to kill and an excess of energy, I decided to drop in on a parkour workshop, because who doesn’t love a good Kong Vault?

All was well and good and sweaty and full of barrel rolls, until two hours in, I got a running start for a dive roll through a hula hoop. Except I never made it through the hoop because the mat I was on slid out from under me, and my foot did something I never ever want to see again, and there was a nasty pop, and down I went.

So then there was some icing, and some poking, and then some screaming when I tried to stand on it, and then a lot of the german wheel instructor carrying me down the stairs so I could go to the hospital. When we (we being me, and the office manager of the circus school) reached the hospital snow had gently started to fall. Which was weird, since it’s October.

The doctor took one look at my foot and said ‘well, with swelling like that in such a short amount of time, I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s broken. But we’ll get you off for X-Rays anyway.’

 

My foot looked like this, and I’m gonna go ahead and say this does NOT do the horror justice, as I don’t actually have cankles in real life:

And off I went.

And it turns out? Not broken. But that ligament that holds the my ankle to the outside of my foot? Not so much attached to my foot anymore. Neat. Healing time? 6-8 weeks. Cast? Check. Crutches? Check. Thanksgiving backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon? Un Check. Circus? Un Check.

So, back we went. And somehow, in the meager amount of time we’d been there, as I was the ER’s ONLY PATIENT (Pro tip: get hurt in tiny towns. But not like, too hurt.) there were somehow two inches of fluffy white snow covering the parking lot. And the ice that was also on the parking lot. But don’t worry, my novice crutchery didn’t get the best of me. Then.

I went back to my hotel, thanking my lucky stars for the great big art deco bathtub in my room. With lots of awkward maneuvering, I managed to finally make it into the tub, and enjoyed the first two minutes of The Vampire Diaries (leave me alone), which is now streaming on Netflix, when the power went out.

I kid you not.

So there I was, naked, handicapped, in a very large bathtub, in the dark.

I suddenly wished I’d said yes to the narcotic painkillers the doctor had offered me.

Well, that was that. After that came driving home on very damaged back roads—I can’t tell you how many power lines I drove over and trees I swerved to avoid, only to find out that we didn’t have power back home either, and that hot bath I wanted so much? Not happening. Lots of near death falling down the stairs has happened though. Enough that I’ve resorted to crawling up and down them rather than risk my neck again to try and get my coffee upstairs.

It has been a very long week.

 

Anyway, on to the gingersnaps!

Have you ever had a knock down drag out fight over cookie dough? I have. Kind of. Nick and I ate/fought over so much cookie dough from this recipe that I had to make another batch the next morning. But. This recipe is stupidly fast. It was about 10 minutes before I had these suckers warming up in the oven.

 

Without further ado…

Tasty, Tasty Gingersnaps:

Oven temp: 350º

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 ½ tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp. powdered cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • Extra granulated sugar

 

  1. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until well blended.
  3. Beat in egg, molasses, and spices.
  4. Beat in the flour mixture in two parts.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball (you can keep it in the bowl), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours. Or eat cookie dough now, whatever floats your boat.
  6. Shape dough into balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter, and roll them in sugar.
  7. Put dough balls on ungreased baking sheet with lots of space in between.
  8. Bake 15ish minutes, depending on your oven. Take them out, let them cool for a minute, and move them to cooling racks.
  9. Nom.

Yum!

Have a nice weekend!

What You Can Do in a Weekend: Buy a Streetlight, Make Some Pizza, Paint a Lot.

I think usually, when a lad goes to pick up his lass at the airport after she’s been gone for a week, it goes something like this: ‘let’s order Chinese and snuggle and watch movies all weekend.’

Yeah. That’s totally how our reunion went. Not.

Ours went more like this:

‘Hi baby, I missed you so I bought you that board game you really, really wanted. Let’s just take it slow and snuggle and watch movies all weekend.’

‘Yeah. That sounds great!’

20 minutes later:

‘Hey let’s stop at the store so we can make some pizzas…You know, I kinda wanna finish that vanity this weekend.’

‘…’

 

So, that’s how you turn a quiet weekend into a DIY Rager. I’m totally saying that forever from now on, by the way. DIY Rager. Awesome.

 

Here’s a list of the things you can do in one weekend:

 

Make a Deep Dish Pizza in a cast iron skillet

Play a lot of Dominion

Finish drywalling, sanding, and priming the wall from hell

Finish drywalling, sanding, priming and start painting the bathroom

Lay out mosaic tiles, cut access holes and adhere the tiles to that vanity you made

Clean the kitchen

Steal some more mirrors

Take your dog to the dog park

Clean up a lot of dry wall dust

Buy a street lamp

 

All right, here we go.

 

Here’s our first attempt at a deep dish pizza. It is full of meat and garlic. It was delicious. I’ll actually be writing rather more about pizza soon as I lost a bet, very, very, badly, the result of which is a week of pizza.

Cast Iron Deep Dish Pizza

This is the wall from hell. It looked like this for at least three months:

I think we actually forgot that stairs are actually more than a foot wide.

 

It was like this because when we moved in we decided to sound proof using Green Glue, which requires that you put up two extra layers of drywall. We did the upstairs very quickly—it was done within two weeks of move in because we needed, you know to sleep up there and put all of our clothes and things there.

Then we rushed to hang all the drywall on the stairs and that wall of the living room as we were getting a puppy a week later and didn’t want drywall everywhere.

That was an adventure, which involved both of Nick’s younger brothers, a lot of swearing, and a visit from the cops.

Then we offered to host a going away party for two of our friends (never offer to host a party when your house is not a place real people live), so in a few days we managed to go from some hung drywall, to a finished, painted wall in the living room, and called it good, because no one was really going to be hanging out on the stairs. So we left it that way, because it was unessential, and more importantly, it was a pain in the add to mud, and I was seriously sick of drywall.

So we left it that way. For at least three months.

And now it looks like this:

This is what the bathroom looks like now:

I apologize for the fact that every picture of the bathroom is horrible. But the bathroom is tiny and hard to photograph.

In case you don’t remember my brainstorm board for the bathroom, I was planning on painting the walls yellow. I went so far as to get about 40 different yellow paint chips and painstakingly sort through all of them until I found the perfect yellow (it was Cornmeal, by Olympic), and get a sample, and slap some on the wall.

And then Nick said it looked dirty.

And I kind of agreed with him. And didn’t even yell at him for criticizing me, even though I am very, very, sensitive to all perceived criticism.

 

I’ve found, that when it comes to selecting paints, my last minute ‘I need to paint this wall now’ snap judgment is actually the best. For both the upstairs and the bathroom I went through a long process of trying to choose the perfect color, tried said perfect color, decided I hated it, and at the last minute chose a completely different color that I hadn’t even considered before.

In this case, it’s actually Misty Surf, the same thing I used on the fake wall in the kitchen.

 

And you know what, it looks so much better than yellow, and it looks way better with the mosaic tiles.

 

I’ll be posting about the final stage of the vanity more in depth later, but here’s a picture. Feel free to go ‘ooh.’

Okay, so we didn’t steal the mirror. We went to our friend down the hall’s to trade power tools and check out his renovations, and it was sitting there, and we asked what he was doing with it, and then he gave it to us. Good story, huh?

 

Tesla is a fan:

And sometimes you go to Lowes. You go to Lowes to get one thing, in this case a pole sander for drywall. And then you start to wander around and look at things. And then you split up, and you go to find Nick, and Nick comes to find you and you meet in the middle and you say ‘there you are!’ And then Nick says ‘Come see what I found. You have to tell me whether or not I’m crazy.’

And you go to look.

And it’s a street light. On clearance. And you say ‘Mr. Tumnus.’ Repeatedly. And then you say ‘this is awesome.’

And then the Lowes associate comes to see why people are giggling like maniacs in the lighting department. And he says ‘I’ll get rid of that for $80.’

And Nick says ‘can you go lower?’

And the associate says ‘$50.’

And then you and Nick giggle like maniacs some more.

 

And that’s how you go home with an outdoor street light, when you just needed something to sand drywall with.

 

The Story About the Fans

And now a brief interlude from all those projects, partly because my mother is visiting and partly because I have a humorous anecdote to share with you all.

This is a story about Nick, and some fans, and his uncontrollable urge to buy things in bulk when he finds a good deal.

 

As I’m sure you’ve heard me mention before, a large factor in the purchase of the loft was that it is a perfect (or about as perfect as you can get) space for circus practice. So, one of the first projects to be tackled was coming up with a rigging setup for hanging aerial silks and a trapeze.

As a point of reference, I present you with our ceiling before we moved in:

Side note: aren’t you glad we got rid of that hideous green wall? And also that piece of insulation that was straight chillin’?

 

Here is Nick’s bombproof rigging setup for silks:

And then we noticed this:

That fan is in. The. Way. Much kicking of the fan commenced, and it was unanimously decided upon that the fan had to go before it got destroyed or beheaded one of us.

 

Nick started by simply removing the blades from the fan, rendering it useless.

And then he found this fan on the internet. It has retractable blades. It costs a thousand dollars.

So Nick decided he would make one.

 

And then he realized that was impossible.

And I breathed a sigh of relief because Nick already had too many damn projects in the air.

 

We forgot about the fan problem for a while. But then it got hot out. And our loft is literally the most energy inefficient loft in the world. In the winter those giant windows and bevy of skylights serve to let all of our precious, precious heat (which gets stuck in the loft, leaving the living room freezing) escape into the winter sun. In the summer (aka NOW) they turn our loft into a veritable oven.

Thus, we resumed talking about fans and fan related objects and did what we always do in such situations: drive to Lowes and wander around aimlessly for an hour or so.

And we found out that Lowes sells a ceiling fan with retractable blades. It is not as cool as the Air Shadow, but it is also not a thousand dollars. It was $350. Which was still too much. Nick decided to see if he could find a knock off of the Lowes fan on the internet for less dollars.

 

He did not find it. No, he did not. If he had, there wouldn’t be any story.

 

Instead he somehow got to looking at the Fanimation Air Shadow again, and he found a website selling it for $250. He bought one. He wanted to buy two, I convinced him not to.

The next day, because Nick is obsessive about deals, he was looking again, and he found a website that had mis-listed the Air Shadow for $15.25, instead of $1525. Oops.

Nick decided that he was going to buy a hundred and sell them for Massive Profit. I begged him to reconsider. He called his father, who suggested buying 50 to start. I banged my head against the desk. Finally, I convinced him not to buy 50 fans because ‘where in the name of god was he going to put them?’ So he bought eight. And I sighed the sigh of giving up.

The next day, the website had corrected their grievous error, but not before shipping nick eight ceiling fans.

 

Two days after that I was greeted with this:

 

Which quickly became this:

 Our apartment is 800 square feet. Eight fans take up a lot of room. They also make it hard to do circus related things.

 

Nick put up one of the fans. It looks like this:

And now, a dramatic reenactment:

Me: Very cool, hahaha, see? It’s a pun! But oh, my love, my love, the other seven ceiling fans are still here. Doing nothing but take up space and my patience. Whatever shall we do?

Nick: Fear not my love, I shall divest my burden on craigslist.

Two days later:

Me: Love of my life, have you heard anything from the good denizens of the internet?

Nick: Oh yeah. I should post those. I’m lazy though.

 

Several weeks went by. Nick finally posted them on craiglist and in return was rewarded with silence.

Another week went by, and I suggested ‘ebay, perhaps?’ and Nick, despite his overwhelming, all consuming laziness, got around to posting the fans a few days later.

 

And nothing.

And nothing.

 

And then within two days all of the fans were gone.

 

And we have a new HD video camera.

 

The end.