Medicine Crow

May 9th, 2011 by: cheyenne

This weekend we went to a bird festival/show/thing in the rain at Sellwood park. When it really started to pour, all the children crowded under the craft tent to color bird masks and wings. Ronin colored her mask and called it “Medicine Crow.” We looked at each other all, huh. I have no idea where she heard that but I’m guessing there must be a northwest coast native storybook at her preschool with similar artwork. Crazy!

Perhaps two or three times per day she’ll dress up as the Medicine Crow and run around the house for maybe two minutes. Then she deposits the wings and mask somewhere inconvenient and goes off to make more messes.

The wings are still in the process of being colored. The detail though has been rendered in blue glitter, which falls off everywhere she goes with the wings. Of all the debris I find myself digging out of the rugs, couch, and various crevices of the house, glitter is by far the least annoying. Rather pleasant really.


April 17th, 2011 by: cheyenne

The bathroom is almost done, I think. Everything seems to be just about ready to be finished except that it is waiting on some other really minor thing that probably involves a trip to Lowes to buy some lame part that they probably won’t have (but Home Depot might). We can at least take showers now. That happened only a few days ago.

In other non-construction-related news, Ronin desperately wants a bunkbed. Like, she has never actually really wanted anything before in her life, mostly because her attention span has generally been acute and fleeting. However, she has fixated on the bunkbed and talks about it at length. Repeated trips to Ikea in futile attempt to purchase things they are always out of does not help any (the bunkbed in question is from Ikea, naturally).

We are not too worried that she’ll fall out in the night; she has managed to grow into a fairly low-key sleeper, astoundingly enough. We thought we might remove the bottom bed and make a play-house for her instead. She would LOVE that, and how adorable would that be anyway?!

In the end, we set up a chart on the refrigerator with spaces for 21 stickers. At the end of each day if she is non-combatant about dinner and eats—nay, acknowledges or even just licks—one or more of the vegetables on her plate, and if she gets ready for bed without a major meltdown, we declare the day a raging success and she can pick out a sticker to stick on the chart.

She is beside herself with excitement over the chart but I’m not entirely sure she really gets the concept. She has never been one to be swayed much by bribery. We’ll see how it goes.

The bathroom (before)

March 21st, 2011 by: cheyenne

So, I figured that it would take us one, maybe two days to totally demo the bathroom, a day or two to lay and grout the tile, and the last day would be spent replacing sink, faucets, spigots, painting, etc. Maybe we could create a built-in closet as well in the weird little nook behind the tub. That would go up FAST. All we were doing was knocking down the tiles on the walls and replacing it with wainscoting, then replacing the floor and tub surround with tile. I could probably get the entire thing done in two days actually, all by myself.

It took us two days to demo, yes. But then it took us two or three more, one of which was mostly spent standing in our demo outfits staring at the mayhem in confusion and horror. Every time we thought we were finished, we’d decide that it would really be better to just take out the entire wall. That and pick out/remove all the plaster. Of course, we should have gone crazy from the very beginning and tore all the walls straight down to the lathe but I kept thinking we needed to keep it “minor.”

And then of course I decided I hated every single medicine cabinet out there in the world—that is, aside from those adorable little vintage wooden ones. Which are ridiculously expensive, even for the totally messed up ones that need a ton of fixing. I called all the salvage places within 50 miles of Portland (believe me, there are many) and it was not heartening. It’s just a stupid box with a frame and a mirrored door. HOW HARD COULD IT BE?! That’s right. In the end, I decided to build myself one from scratch. It was the only way.

I scouted out a bunch of sinks too at the salvage places but all the cute vintage ones were too big for the narrow bathroom. Or else the spigot would be too low and Joshua rejected them. I waaanted a salvage sink but in the end we bought a totally non-offensive new sink for $32. Which was, of course, cheaper than any of the salvage sinks I had scoped anyway. Blah.

Then there’s the tub. It’s totally chipped and scratched and the finish is stained and dull. We looked into replacing it but the concept of somehow prying free a 500-pound cast-iron tub and wheeling it out without tearing up all the walls and doorframes in the house was making my brain clench. Joshua seemed to feel that this would be a cinch. We looked for a new tub but I hated pretty much all of the cheap options (figures). The Internet told us that you can actually have them refinished and the results are apparently amazing. I’m a little skeptical but we’ll see. We also have been entertaining the idea of doing it ourselves (because we’re stupid like that) with two-part epoxy boat paint, some turtle wax, and a buffer. We’re undecided as of yet but we may just end up shelling out the $400 to have it done professionally. (That’s another thing: everyone told us that it would be no more than $250 to have it refinished but all the quotes I got were running upwards of $400-450. People can be so wrong sometimes.)

What was behind all those walls was scary. Forty year-old mildew stains, three different wallpapers, ancient linoleum (it had an interesting slate-like texture; petrified?), old tiles, old tile backing, mid-century style pink paint, a pair of underwear, weird insulation (?) sheets made of what appears to be hair, and an old wooden domino with a dragon on it.

I did not factor in the fifteen thrillion billion trips to Home Depot and Lowes (because they have different things, damn them) and the time we would waste gazing blankly at the plumbing parts while Ronin went absolutely apeshit with boredom. Ronin does not do well when she senses that our attention is elsewhere. We, in turn, cannot think straight when she is shrieking, “MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! I! WANNA! SEE! THAT! THING! UP! THERE! ON! THE! SHELF!” It’s a vicious cycle that ends up with us spending two hours in the store trying to buy six things, four of which will end up needing to be returned.

[Oh my poor eyes. I had almost forgotten how awful it was.]

Right now we’re focusing on getting the plumbing back to functional before we move in. Currently the toilet is sitting on our back patio next to the giant pile of rubble (we are classy like that). It’s a good conversation piece when introducing ourselves to our neighbors over the back fence. But progress is slowly being made. Joshua is over there right now, battling the under-sink pipes. We have most of the walls back up, I laid the tile floor and yesterday I grouted. It looks bleeding spectacular. There is hope yet.

We bought a house!

March 19th, 2011 by: cheyenne

It all happened very fast. We viewed it and put in our offer the first day it got listed and our offer was accepted. We did inspections the following Tuesday, and the Tuesday after that, we had the keys! The whole process took 11 days.

[Main living/dining area. Floors were just refinished and smell wretched; place needs some airing out. But the floors are beautiful! I’ll be doing some painting, by the way. That maroon moulding is distracting.)

We’ve actually been sort of kind of looking for a long time. Almost a year ago, we had the winning bid on a house at auction. The auction guys were all over themselves the moment it closed giving us instructions: RACE to the bank and get a cashiers check for the earnest money, overnight it FASTFASTFAST or else face penalties and fines and bad credit ratings and an IRS audit and who knows what else. So we did and then we didn’t hear anything from anybody for two weeks, when we got our earnest money quietly returned to us in the mail. Apparently the bank decided that they wanted more money than our winning bid and rejected our purchase. WhatEV! (Ironically, the house got relisted, went to auction again and the winning bid rejected, got relisted a couple more times and finally sold 9 months later for less than our original winning offer. We were so over that house by then.)

The next house looked pretty good except for a slight weirdness with the lot: the city seemed to think that it was only a half lot (the other half owned by some construction company) but the ad very specifically described a luxuriously large lot. We made a huge stink about it from the get-go and they assured and reassured and doubly-assured again (we really were pains in the ass about this point) that indeed it was in fact the entire lot, that the city was just behind in updating their files after the foreclosure, blah blah shut up already. They even sent us what appeared to be a title report that very plainly stated the property as being the entire lot and at last we had our offer accepted and did inspections. Then a few days later, we got the news that, um, yeah, there seems to be a problem with the title. We backed out. It was a complete waste of time and money and we were totally pissed because we had been asking about the lot since before we even went to go look at the property. Basically, what happened is the previous owner quietly split the lot and sold half to a construction company. Then foreclosed on the entire property (and Bank of America didn’t do their homework). BofA relisted, again stressing how big the lot was. It was weird, like they knew all along and just hoped we wouldn’t notice.

I guess that’s what happens when you are hunting in the bottom of the barrel. It’s you versus all the other loonbats out there. We do seem to draw more than our fair share of the absurd though.

[Bedroom and hallway between bedrooms, bath and living area. Floors are refinished fir here.]

Finally we came across this house. We looked at almost all of the very cheapest houses Portland had to offer for a long time and this was the first place that was not actually gross, or needing epic fixes immediately. In fact, it was nicer, bigger, and cheaper than our current rental. We could just move in immediately if we wanted! It only took us a year and we went through four different agents in the process.

[In person, those cabinets are WAY ricketier and ill-hung and super crappy. They look almost decent in this photo but do not be fooled. The kitchen has to go.]

[This yellow blurriness, incidentally, is why we never have any good photos of Ronin anymore. She will not hold still for anything.]

So immediately upon taking possession of the place, I shifted into princess mode, bought about ten gallons of paint in ten different shades of beige/gray, and ripped out the bathroom (this is, after all, my big moment!). And now it looks like this:

Now I just sort of want to put the walls back on again.

Maple Bacon Ice Cream

March 18th, 2011 by: joshua

Here’s the recipe for the ice cream. The bacon is just bacon. Well good thick bacon (uncured apple smoked from Trader Joes).

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell