Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pay It Forward!

I've been recovering from the worlds longest cold and haven't done much of anything around here since making an upside down curtain/shade for the bathroom (see my last post...) So after a few days of not even turning on the computer, as all my energy has gone into making it through the work week I settled in tonight to do one of my favorite things - reading houseblog after houseblog to see what everyone else has been up to.

Housebloggers are inspirational! Funny! Profound! And very human. I'm at least an hour into reading when I hit one of my favorite blogs, ThirteenEleven and see that the post is about one of my favorite people - Sandy!

I see that Sandy has given Jenni at ThirteenEleven an Excellence Award! And it makes me smile! Isn't that just like Sandy? To do something so sweet and fun? She's everywhere! She's friendly and she's almost like a glue that helps bind us into a community of friends who've never actually met, instead of just a collection of people with similar interests and experiences putting our stories out into the ether.

So, of course I had to head over to Sandy's to see who else got an "E" award. Oh. My. God.


Can you believe it!?!? I'm so touched, and thrilled, and flattered, and, and, ... just plain grateful! Sandy, you've once again made my day!

The thing about this award is that it was bestowed on Sandy with the condition that she pass it on - and she has. And now, as a recipient of an "E" award it falls to me to pass it on as well, to 10 more bloggers. Isn't that just a fabulous opportunity?

Thank you again, Sandy for not just making my day but for giving me this opportunity to hopefully make someone else's day.

I want to think about my list of "E" bloggers and make it in my next post. But, I also want to take this chance to commit to something else - to be more like Sandy! I want this honor to serve as a reminder to me that I shouldn't need to be prompted to take a moment to offer someone a kind word. I can do it... I think nice things and often appreciate the stories and advice that others share - surely I can take a second or two to say so.

Sandy, you're a gem!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Don't snicker...

Originally uploaded by gimbler
Some of us are severely window treatment impaired. Handbags and window treatments are the bane of my existence. So, please keep that in mind when I tell you I'm actually quite pleased with this. Oh, I may look back in six months and realize it's a terrible monstrosity - but, in my cold medicine addled mind, (and my general failing in the window treatment dept) this feels like a success this morning.

Since moving in last spring the bathroom windows only adornment was a white vinyl roller shade. In all these months I have not been able to find what looked to me like a good curtain or valance option.

Then inspiration struck! Or was it codeine? Matters not - what's done is done... I took a piece of fabric that I thought looked pretty and a can of spray adhesive and permanently wed the fabric to the roller shade. I left a few inches of fabric loose along the bottom so that I could gather it up to look more like a balloon style shade. A balloon shade that ROLLS! LOL

Trouble was the white vinyl underside of the shade showed at the top where it was rolled up. Luckily there was a scrap of fabric about 8 or 9 inches wide left over from trimming the edge of the shade. I "Sitch Witcher-ied" it into a long tube and now it's an overly wide "valance" that covers the top of the roller. I suppose I could have moved the hardware in an inch or two on either side - but that would require tools and I'm just not up to tools today. I'm not even up to sewing and it's a wonder I didn't burn myself with the iron! Speaking of which - the black ribbon trim that is pretending to gather the "curtain" is ironed on too. And no - the iron didn't melt the shade. Not that I thought to test that out in advance...

The cute little pull ring? It's courtesy of the lid to my husbands Mr. Peanut jar of peanuts. (I really should remember to go put some saran wrap of something over his exposed peanuts!) I popped the metal center out of the yellow plastic threaded ring and wound black yarn around it.


Then I stepped back and realized the fabric pattern was upside down...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pittsburgh Potties -or what's in your basement?

I mentioned "Pittsburgh Potties" in my previous post and a couple of people commented that these open toilets in the basements weren't exclusively a Pittsburgh phenomenon. Some Jersey foursquares and Baltimore rowhouses feature this "amenity" too!

So, being curious and easily amused - I googled up "Pittsburgh Potty" 337,000 hits! One of which was a post by Steel City Experiment, where I snagged the above pic. (I hope Katy doesn't mind!)

So I'm wondering - just how widespread is this basement potty thing? Do you have one? Have you seen them in your city? Please check in. Enquiring minds want to know.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Which reminds me...

Aimee at Aimee's Petite Maison is doing a fun and generous giveaway for a Solay Salt Lamp. All you have to do to get into the running is post a comment on her blog by March 17th stating why you'd like to win it.

I commented half jokingly that living in Pittsburgh, I could use some negative ion cleansed air.

Half joking... Which reminded me that I've been intending for a while to blog something about the soot covering our house.

Native Pittsburgh-ers like to talk about how much cleaner Pittsburgh is now that the steel industry has largely been replaced with medical industry. Uh huh... Pittsburgh still ranks number two in the nation for worst air quality. You may have come a long way, baby - but there's still a long way to go.

Which brings me, finally,back around to the topic at hand. Our sooty stones. Which I love. Decades of soot and crap have fallen out of the sky and covered our sandstone (limestone?) with a patina that ranges from lightish gray on the more protected areas, to a deep velvety black on the more exposed areas. It's given the facade an almost verigated appearance.

One of our neighbors, and a couple of co-workers, noticing that we are "fixer-uppers" have suggested that we have our stones cleaned. We're about as receptive to this suggestion as we were to the mover who suggested we enclose our front porch to increase our first floor living space. No.Freaking.Way.

I don't care how many buildings downtown have been given a "new lease on life" after having their grimy history sandblasted or power-washed away. It's not like we have some weird love of grime. But, we do have a love and respect for history. I know this house wasn't built to look this way, that the steel mills down the river changed it from it's original and intended form, but neither of us want to "restore" this aspect of the house.

It's late and I'm not even sure how to articulate my feeling about this but I hope I can make it make sense to someone besides DH that the sooty layer on our house should remain, like a testament to what made this city what it was. Like a tribute to the men and women who lived and toiled in this gray polluted city where the mills followed the men home from work, covering their homes, their gardens, and their families with black reminders of the blast furnaces. Where no shopkeeper or executive could find complete exclusion from the price being paid by the men in the mills. To enjoy the commerce, to profit in this economy they too would have to bear the stains of the product making it all possible.

In our basement we have what is commonly referred to (at least by local realtors) as a "Pittsburgh Potty". Most older working class houses here seem to be equipped with at least a toilet in the basement. Ours has a shower as well. We've been told that these were considered a necessity earlier in the 20th century. So that the men, returning home after working a hot, dangerous, back breaking twelve hour shift, covered with soot and scale could clean up and change their clothes in the basement so as not to ruin the family floors and furniture.

So, no... we're not going to come to this town like a couple of johnny-come-lately carpetbaggers and wash what are now "our" stones squeaky clean like nothing ever happened here. It would feel disrespectful, I think. Besides, to our eyes they're lovely just the way they are.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Let there be light... and VENTILATION!

vent fan
Originally uploaded by gimbler
No, it's not a UFO, it's our spiffy new bathroom ventilation fan, disguised as an art deco style (imho) ceiling light fixture - and I LOVE it! The fan is so quiet I can barely tell when it's running. Plus it moves twice as much air as our previous crappy little fan with no light, even AFTER we removed the TWO birds nests from the ductwork. (Which my very handy son smartly screened off so we should have no more birdie builder issues in the near future.

Other things around the ole foursquare are moving along nicely too. I just haven't had a chance to blog about our progress the last few weeks. Perhaps because I've felt too self conscious to sneak away from the actual work to sit down and write about it. Handy-kid is a real work horse and I just didn't know how to say "Excuse me from this messy task - I feel the need to blog".

But, he spent the night out with friends last night so I thought I'd creep in here before work and post a brief update.

The fireplace facade is finished, the replacement trim is done, but could probably use a little sanding and another coat of paint, three Billy bookcases with extension shelves have been assembled and now have glass doors - (less dusting, yay!) and oodles of little incidentals have been wrapped up.

The next focus, inside anyway, has got to be fixing that Texas sized and shaped patch in the stairway.

We've had two nice spring-like days in the last week and when the weather really breaks I want to be ready for planting and deck building - not still eying Texas, you know?

Happy Friday, everyone - have a great one!