Basement Improvements

IMG_1181

So many projects, and so little time.  Each weekend I am trying to tackle something.  However, a few must be devoted to seeing family and friends, and the to-do list is longer than ever.  About a month ago I had a few days off and used them to work on as many home improvements as possible.  The ugly unfortunate looking finished part of the basement was something I’d really been looking forward to making some changes to.  Truly it was the most un-apealling area of our home, and it needed some help.

First of all, it still had a pile of unpacked boxes in the corner (soaking up water too, I found, yuck.)  Then there was the tangled nest of cords that irked me.  (Right after moving my husband wanted the TV set up, and he did it himself since I was otherwise occupied.  He and I have different takes on cable management, so there was a nest of unknown wires clumped behind the console for months until I got around to beautifying the basement.)  😀  Aside from these eyesores close to half of the walls had somewhat white paint that was very dingy and marked up.  The remaining majority were vintage wood paneling.  The floating floor has a bit of a moisture problem and is bouncy and uneven with rot underneath, and I have plans to eventually rip it out, waterproof, and install tile.  The baseboard trim was very beaten up, scratched, and generally looked bad.  Some wasn’t even stained, clear coated, or painted at all.  It still isn’t, actually.  There is a drop ceiling, which I don’t prefer but understand the need for, but it has the big oblong kind of tiles with the institutional worm-eaten finish that just doesn’t scream cosy or anything pleasant.  With the moisture and their size they sag unattractively too.  My plan is to replace them with square tiles that have a smooth and recessed finish, like this.  Oh, and there were dark luan doors with chipped, shiny-brass handles and really old vertical blinds blocking the casement window.  Sounds great, right?

Here are my before photos:

blinds computer corner stair area

Funny how it doesn’t look so bad in photos.

So, I took down the blinds and changed the door knobs to my preferred brushed nickel.  Much better!  At first I thought that a cheerful yellow would liven up the space and go well with the tone of the Pergo, the panelling, the sofa fabric, and so on in spite of it being out of character and my husband detesting the idea.  I tried it anyway, and didn’t like it at all either. Probably I chose the wrong yellow, but I went ahead and wasted a few hours only to decide to repaint immediately.  Our favoured grey was yet again the answer, I thought, but it took a moment to settle between the lovely paint, “polished limestone,” from the hallway upstairs and master bath or “silver tinsel” from my sewing room and the flat I lived in before moving into my husband’s.  Note: I should come up with something to call him on this blog, because it feels really odd to keep repeating “my husband!”

Afterwards I painted the worn out trim and one of the doors with “coconut ice.”  I think it was the biggest and best change.  Now I am considering to paint the panelling as well in the grey and the rest of the trim.  It could look nice and sort of like the New England seashore, but I’m nervous to make such a permanent alteration.  I’ll hold off on that decision a long while.

Yellow:

IMG_0958 IMG_0960 IMG_0992 IMG_0994 IMG_1006 IMG_1015

… and the grey:

IMG_1160 IMG_1163 IMG_1177 after paint

Last weekend we were near a Restoration Hardware outlet when visiting family and had a nice time browsing and dreaming.  My husband really liked certain heavy and sort of Spanish-medieval styled stuff that I think is a bit much, but we also found some things to agree on.  I prefer more simple and rustic things mostly.  We are searching for a media console, and I might try to transform a thrifted one if I can, but it was helpful to discuss what we like and don’t like.  Besides this he has found that he loves leather chesterfield sofas and ottomans, and we are dreaming of replacing ours.  It is all fun to contemplate: the floor tile, furniture options, and such.

I want to mention and link to two wonderful things that we have in the media room.  First of all is Litter Robot.  It is hands down the most amazing appliance I can think of besides refrigeration.  I’ve had cats all of my life, too many cats at once according to most standards, and Litter Robot has been a wonderful change.  It is really expensive (Jebus, I think they raised the price a couple hundred too!,) but since it actually works and doesn’t bog down or break like the other automatic litter solutions that I’ve tried I have to recommend it highly.  I do save a lot on litter compared to a regular box too.  Unfortunately, my husband’s cat never adapted to it, and I need to provide a normal litter too, but my four were much less work thanks to it.  I love it.

The next item is a cheaper dehumidifier.  I knew we needed one, and when I saw that they generally start at well over a hundred dollars I was annoyed and didn’t know which to choose.  I opted to try out this cheaper unit since it was less investment but actually looked nicer than the more expensive ones, and I highly recommend it too.  I ended up buying another for the unfinished part of the basement too, and it works just great.  Hmm, I should mention that we have a Roomba in the media room too, and even though I don’t consider it a vacuum replacement it does help the tracked litter situation tremendously well.  (I would have a litter capturing tray with carpet if the problem-kitty didn’t think it was an extended litter.  Those work too otherwise.)

So, there is a post.  😀

Nasturtium Chimichurri

nasturtium, garlic mustard, parsely, spicy oregano the blend

My husband is a huge fan of skirt steak.  I like it very much as well, but he has pretty much decided that most of our evening meals should be skirt steak if it going to be any sort of steak at all.  I’m not complaining since it is easy to prepare and very tasty.  (The price is inconvenient compared to other rejected cuts, alas.)

Having skirt steak so often and preparing it simply with salt and pepper means that I’ve been trying some new things to dress it up.  Actual chimichurri is delicious and all, but I have been playing with a new food processor and trying different purees to spoon over the steak.

The food processor:

food processor

While I prefer not to clutter my countertops and tend to take the long route in all things this appliance has been a big help now that I’m in the city for work and am exhausted by suppertime.  The reviews were correct about the gasket being a particle trap, and the smaller bowl isn’t entirely as awesome as it sounded, but it still helps.  If I buy another few pieces maybe that would be best since our dishwasher is the world’s slowest (and I agree with some reviewers that this is a machine wash item.)  Anyway, I like the look and design a lot too besides having a choice to use less dishwasher space or the big bowl as needed.

One night I wanted to use the piquant little nasturtium leaves growing all over for something, and the food processor made it possible to do more than add them to a salad.  I used a handful of them, some parsley, a red pepper, garlic mustard from the yard, a little onion, and spicy oregano together. Of course I added olive oil, salt, and a bit of vinegar too.  Another night I put a garlic clove into the mix since the wild garlic mustard was about done.  Either way it is good.

skirt steak with nasturtium chimichurri skirt steak another night

An Update

I have not written in far too long!  It amazes me that the past two (TWO!) months have gone by already, and that I’ve still not adjusted to the new work schedule enough to make time for most personal matters like this blog.  I actually had the week before July 4th off, but I used the time to be really sick and then to complete as many household projects as I could physically manage.  This meant I never took a moment to write, but I do have some finished things to write about in upcoming posts.  Not only that, but I have occasionally made some interesting dinner items that I’ll share.  Also, the garden has come such a long way since I last wrote that I’ll have to break up any posts about it into a few entries.

Weeks ago, the 21st of June according to the file information, I began writing about the garden:

The weather in the past few weeks was gorgeous with almost no rain.  This meant I had to water the garden at least once a day, but it really allowed for tons of growth and plenty of enjoyment.  since I last posted photos there has been a lot of changes!  Yesterday my husband helped me clear away leftover bags of peat and soil as well as other accumulated supplies and tools.  We finally went to buy a hammock stand, and now the deck areas feel like a wonderful and relaxing oasis.

Even since then the garden has transformed a time or two with things blooming just about one variety at a time.  Unfortunately it has rained heavily and often lately which has shortened the enjoyment of any one delicate bloom to a morning or an evening before being battered away by raindrops.  Still, I enjoy it very much to sit on the patio or in the hammock or to walk around peering at every new thing.

This morning I purchased a few more types of tulips to plant in the fall.  I’m told that “you can’t grow tulips in this town,” because the deer destroy them without any hope of a flower.  However, I intend to work around this problem by setting up deer-proof netting or something.  Perhaps I’ll staple it at the top of the fence and stake it down at the ground and plant them along there?  Wish me luck!  I’m not entirely confident that the net is so deer-proof if they are persistent.  😀

I already had a few on order: “greenland,” “queen of night,” and “ice princess” (which is now gone from the site,)  Today I added “rococo,” “swan wings” (which no longer appears on the site only 20 minutes later but looks a lot like “honeymoon,”) and “cummins.”  They are all so spectacular that I cannot help but try to grow them in spite of the deer.  It would have been awesome to have some near the sidewalk in front of the big retaining wall, but I doubt that I could set up protection there without it looking hideous.  Besides, the deer frequent that area in the spring even more than our backyard.

Anyway, I must go now but will post again either today or before Monday.