Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Couple of Midcentury Makeovers

It occurred to me while typing the title of this post that Mr. W and I aren't all that far off from being "midcentury" ourselves. Eesh. Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday we were dreaming up our ideal midcentury-style house in the wine country and now we've owned this place for four years.

Speaking of which—when we first purchased it and were coming up to work on it on the weekends, we bought a $20 IKEA coffee table to tide us over until we moved our real furniture. That terrible little laminate table survived even after we brought our Hollywood belongings, and in the corner it sat for three whole years, bowing slightly under the weight of the TV, stereo, and various other media components.

Sometimes I would catch myself sneering at it in disgust. It was never anything but faithful to me, and yet, I loathed that cheapie coffee table.

Mr. W promised to build me a custom media console...but he had about 850,000 other projects ahead of it. And then we got a kitten. And the kitten took to climbing behind Ugly IKEA Coffee Table and chewing on all the cords to our various viewing system boxes.

Thus began my renewed crusade to get something else in the corner of my living room.

Mr. W went to work in Sketchup as he likes to do, and drafted some plans...

Execution proved a smidge difficult, as after he applied walnut wood veneer to one side of the actual construction wood, it warped a bit. So I was called into the garage to stand on the wood while he screwed it together. Ah, the life of a DIYer's wife...

Thankfully, he was able to get everything together right and after a couple short weeks, we had an amazing, very authentic-looking midcentury-esque piece of furniture to take the place of Sad, Sad IKEA Coffee Table.

Of course, once the TV was mounted to the wall, I had a funny empty spot next to it that felt like it needed a something sparkly. Not like glitter on a stripper sparkly, but like 1960s starburst clock sparkly—only, without the $100+ price tag. Instead, for a mere $15 at Target I was able to construct my own makeshift burst mirror.

Not wanting to be shown up by Mr. W's redecorating skills, I decided I would also recover the cushions on the cute midcentury chair that sits across from the TV stand. The cover it came with was in ok shape when we first bought it last year...

But after many tooshes smooshing its surface, the fabric finally began to split. So I headed to Joann's, watched some videos on YouTube, and undertook my very first reupholstering project with piping.

I got the job done, but there was an inordinate amount of cursing involved. I may have also punched the sewing machine a few times. Not in like a Fonzie "Eeeeyyy this'll make it start working for me" way but like an "I hate you and want to smash you until you're dead" kind of way... It took a lot of stamina and a lot of wine to get the project done. But I did it and although it's not perfect, it looks just fine. At least that's what the cats keep telling me...


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hardly Roughing It: Our Second Annual Camping Trip

Quintessential camp beverages

When Mr. W and I first started talking about camping a few years ago, I immediately mounted my high horse and regaled him with stories of my extreme outdoorsiness. I could survive in the desert with barely more than a canteen and a bandana. I could go days without a shower. I'd practically earned a PhD in s'more making. I certainly wasn't Cheryl Strayed, but I had backpacked in Angeles Crest, Joshua Tree (multiple times) and even the Sierras—where it unexpectedly snowed on us in the middle of the night. I pretty much considered myself a camping pro.

So when Mr. W insisted we bring aerobeds and pillows to sleep on last year in Big Sur, my eyes almost rolled out of my head in judgmental disgust. That was way too luxurious for camping. We needed to rough it!

One night in Big Sur, and I decided I'd pack my pillow (like he had been smart enough to do) on our next trip...

Just another spectacular California beach

Fast forward to this week and we had the car loaded for Montaña de Oro State Park with everything from the aerobeds to my silk pillowcase-covered pillow, to a down comforter for extra cushion. He had turned me.

When we stopped off at Target in San Luis Obispo on our way, it was only supposed to be for some drinking water to last us during our two-night stay. But the next thing we knew, we were loading a bottle of wine, some extra cheese, and a few random necessities, like vitamin D and cat food, into our cart.

Camp Maris

As we set up our tent, Mr. W used a bluetooth speaker to broadcast Coldplay from our picnic table so we had a work soundtrack. Our aerobeds were inflated courtesy of a power adapter plugged into the Prius. We used a firestarter packet to get our campfire raring for bratwurst cooking. 

Note to other campers: Potatoes on skewers take about 3.5 hours to cook...

We were cheating up a storm. And it only got worse.

I couldn't have Photoshopped this better than it was. Nature. Sigh.

In the morning, we decided to drive into town for a coffee...except the car wouldn't start because we had drained the battery blowing up inflatable beds and charging our iPhones! After a jumpstart from a neighboring camper, we not only headed for a coffee but went BACK to Target to buy a brighter lantern, some more paper plates, aluminum foil, gloves for Mr. W...and a birthday gift for my niece.

People, that is not camping. Camping should not involve two trips to Target and a superfluous bag of candy corn.

Camping is about unplugging from civilization! Communing with nature! Problem-solving instead of running for the easy fix!

The tidepools were like little ocean forests.

The funny thing is, now that we live in the country (yeah, I know, we're 3 years in here) it feels like we're unplugged from civilization and communing with nature and problem-solving A LOT. So maybe it's ok for our camping trips to involve a little luxury and ease.

Or maybe our next trip will involve backpacks and dehydrated dinners instead of down comforters and 3-course meals to make up for our sissiness.

Either way, we'll be sure and document the entire thing on our iPhones so we don't lose any of our technological prowess to actual creative thinking...

I bet that water is about 45°.

Sunsets are for lovers.

I like how the rocks look like stacks of capsized crackers.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sneaking a New Cat into the Kitten Coop

According to the rules of country living, when a farmer is ready to add new hens to a flock, that farmer is supposed to sneak the new chickens into the coop in the middle of the night while the rest of the girls are asleep—or at least groggy—and the next morning, the old chickens won't even realize there are new members in their gang. Though we haven't yet tried this with our girls, the premise sounds pretty simple. A little sneakeroo and you're done.

Adding a new cat the flock...not so simple.

After our beloved, billion-dollar Monty had to be put to sleep in May, we knew we'd eventually be in the market for another kitty. The trick was knowing how and when to introduce one to our snappy, sixteen-year-old crabcake, Zöe. Her anxiety seemed to skyrocket after Monty's passing, so we wanted to make sure we had her calmed down before trying to sneak in a new flock-mate.

Sitting on Mr. W's lap is a good coping mechanism...

A couple weeks ago, I decided it was time. Mr. W complied with my request to begin the shopping process, likely because he just bought a bunch of parts to build a freaking airplane (YES an actual airplane that he plans to fly). You get a plane, I get a kitten.

We agreed that we wanted to try to find a Monty version 2.0, so our goal was to adopt an all-black, male short-hair that was somewhere between 8 and 12 weeks old. Although there appeared to be lots of contenders online, our first stops at a shelter and a cat rescue facility didn't turn up exactly what we were looking for (but there are tons of cute kitties out there and you should totally go adopt one...)

I was pretty depressed to come home empty-handed after hauling off to the humane society with my cat carrier in hand and a fresh bag of kitten food in my pantry. So last Monday, I talked Mr. W into driving to San Luis Obispo with me to check out some more options.

When we got to the front desk of the Animal Services office, the lady asked us what we were looking for. I told her our criteria and she said, "We have THE cutest black and white kitten in room one. He is absolutely adorable." I blew her off, determined to stick to my shopping list.

And then we went to Cat Room One and this little face pranced back and forth in his cage batting his eyelashes at us and being 10x more lovable than any of the other cats in the running.

He wasn't all black. He wasn't short-haired. But he was a boy and he was only 3 months old. With that face and that charm, he would do just fine.

Mr. W took some convincing, but shortly after meeting him, we were packing up Oliver Montrose Maris and taking him back to his forever home.

His favorite spot is on top of the wine fridges. Boy after my own heart.

The introduction process with Zöe has been a very slow, calculated one with lots of back and forth solitary confinement, some supervised visits, and a fair amount of hissing. I'm hoping one day she'll wake up like a clueless chicken and just think Ollie has been here all along.

In the grand tradition of being a panicked pet parent, I've already worried about Oliver not eating enough, accidentally getting stepped on when he camouflages with the black kitchen rug, swallowing a poisonous spider, and strangling himself with his fishing pole toy (he's not allowed to have it in the middle of the night when we're not there to save him). Needless to say, it is better for the entire world that Mr. W and I did not produce any human children together.

We are happy enough with our little furry flock. Especially this guy whose purr motor runs at high speed every day and turns my heart to a puddle of mush.