Saturday, September 27, 2014

Follow Up - What to Do About That Boring Bathroom?

Remember way back when, when I was complaining about our boring apartment? Well, more than half a year later, we're finally making some progress.

Now, we've being adding little things around the apartment to spruce things up. Like our night-stands, which added some much needed space in our bedroom. We finished our kitchen table, and can now eat breakfast like grown-ups (instead of sitting on the couch to do so). And we've been putting various art-works up around the apartment. But today, we took a big step toward de-borifying our apartment. We hung a shelf in the bathroom!

Okay, now I know that doesn't sound like much, but it made a big difference and really pulled the space together. Let's take a look at some before and after pictures, shall we?

Here's the Before picture. We've got a toilet, a trash-can, and uh, that's about it. Boring right? I mean, it's not like a bathroom needs a lot of stuff in it to be functional, but it's not exactly pretty like this. What to do? Decorate! And here's what I did:

I hate that stupid sliding door that you can see in the right of the picture. It really doesn't slide well, and we just always keep it shut. So I added some posters that I found in an old anatomy book.

Somehow, these seemed appropriate for the bathroom

These have been up for several months, and have added a lot of fun to the bathroom. We get a lot of compliments on them from guests.

A month ago, there was a lot of flooding in South-East Michigan. The sewer system in the Metro-Detroit area got overwhelmed one day when we had a lot of rain, and many many basements flooded. Why am I telling you this? Because my in-law's had a flood in their basement and ended up having to throw out a book-case that had water damaged (and mold growing on it). Why am I telling you this? Because the shelves inside the book-case were perfectly fine, and we snagged two of them!

A little warped, but they work fine
We decided to hang the shelves in the bathroom, so we went out and bought a bunch of really pretty shelf-brackets to hang them with.

We went to 2 different hardware stores to find brackets this pretty!

And then we went ahead and got to hanging our shelf! We have two of these shelves, and we were originally planning on hanging both of them in the bathroom, one on top of the other. But after we hung the first shelf, we just liked the way it looked, and decided to just go with the one.
Once it was hung, the only thing left to do was to decorate, so we did.

I've got a carefully curated collection of books, my crocheted uterus and a Rubik's Cube. Of course.We finished everything off with a gorgeous framed picture that we got last year as a wedding present.

I need to get a copy of Mary Roach's Gulp to finish out my bathroom collection.

So there you have it. We finally fixed up our boring bathroom, and you know what? It's not so boring any more. Here's the official After picture, check it out:

Scroll back to the top to compare the Before picture

So what do you think? Do you like our choice of decor? I know it's not everyone's style, but we like it. I feel like we're slowly making our apartment into a home. Our kitchen is almost done, and we're working on the bedroom. Next up is the den (still the worst area in the house), and the living room/TV area. Sigh. There's always so much more to do. Back to Pinterest!

That's it for today. Stay tuned for next time when we'll... Well, I don't actually know. But I'm sure it'll be something interesting. Like when we went grape-squishing. That was interesting wasn't it? Oh wait, I didn't write about that yet! Stay tuned next time for when we go grape-squishing!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Librarian's Corner: Like No Other

Like No Other

by: Una LaMarche 

Like No Other is a novel that had me hooked from the very first chapter.  I read an early excerpt online, and I had to track down a copy to read the whole thing. Luckily, my library was getting on in, and I was able to place my name on the list.

The story is about a Hasidic girl named Devorah who falls in love with an African-American boy named Jaxon (with an X) after the end up stuck in an elevator together during a hurricane. A pretty auspicious start to a relationship, right? And things just get more and more complicated from there. The story is a bit Romeo & Juliet-esque, in that Devorah and Jaxon are not only from two very different communities, but practically from different worlds.

I picked this book for my Librarian's Corner because I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. I read the whole thing in just a few days, and could hardly put it down. My favorite thing about the book is how accurate it is. Many people who read this book will probably think that Devorah's family is an extreme example of religious Jewish culture, but families like them are actually pretty common.

Being Jewish myself, this is a culture that I am very familiar with, and it was fun to see it portrayed so accurately in a popular novel. I'm used to seeing my culture in print only in books and novels written by and for various Jewish communities. It was so nice to get to read a wonderfully written 
(and very compelling) love story that portrays the Jewish community in a very positive light.

And the story is beautiful. Devorah and Jaxon are passionately in love the way only teenagers experiencing their first real love can be. Their love may be forbidden, but it draws them both into their own little world, where nothing matter except for being together. It might sound cheesy, but the story is anything but. There were times when I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what was going to happen to Jax and Devorah, especially during that one scene that I don't want to tell you about, because it'll give too much away, but OMG, I was on the edge of my seat! 

I would recommend this book to anyone who believes in young love. To anyone who believes that our cultural differences aren't as big as they can sometimes seem. And to anyone who loves a good story. So go, get a copy at your local library and start reading! You won't regret it!

That's all for today folks. I hope you enjoyed this month's installment of Librarian's Corner. I knew I wanted to write about this book as soon as I finished reading it, but I'm not always so decisive. How can you help? Leave a comment with a book-suggestion! If I can, I'll track down a copy and read it, and I might even write about it here on Librarian's Corner. Or, you can leave a comment telling me what you thought of this month's book, or last month's book, I'm not picky!
Stay tuned for more awesome stuff on the blog, and I'll see you again on October 21st! And who knows, maybe I'll find a nice Halloween-themed book to read and review!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We (finally) Made a Table!

So, remember waaaay back in April, when I said that we were going to be making ourselves a kitchen table? Well, we finally finished it! And yes, it's really taken us 5 months to finish it... But you don't want to hear a lot of excuses about how we're both super busy (two jobs, blah blah blah, grad-school, blah blah blah), or how we don't have our own space to do wood-working, or anything like that. You guys just want to see pictures, am I right? So, let's get to it.

We made Ana White's Sewing Table to be used as a kitchen table in our tiny apartment kitchen. We thought it would be perfect because the table has two leaves that can be folded down (if we need more floor space), or popped open to eat at (if we need more surface area). Considering we have a fairly small kitchen, I figured this would be the perfect multi-use table. And I was right.

 Here you can see the table open and shut. See how much space I have/save?

 The whole project started with one full-sheet of plywood that we had cut down at the lumber yard.

Yes, I know our plywood isn't the best quality. I'm okay with that.

We then cut it down further to make the pieces that would make up the center frame of the table. Once those pieces were cut, we assembled them.

This is half of the middle of the table...
And that's where we ran into some problems. Things didn't quite... come together the right way. I blame our crappy table-saw. We measured carefully and sanded well, but we were off a bit, and nothing was quite square when we put it all together. Grr. No worries though, we fixed it up with our super-sophisticated clamping system.

A come-along and 2 50lbs bags of flour.

Once we had everything squared away (ha, see what I did there?), it was time to paint. We had gone back and forth on the paint color a few times, but finally settled on a deep, rich, TARDIS-like blue that made us both happy.

For the painting, we were able to bring our table home and paint out-side on our balcony, so things progressed a little more quickly. Once all of the pieces were painted, we attached the leaves with cheap hinges we picked up at the local big-box hardware store.

I have to admit that it did take us about a month between assembling and painting the table until we got around to making the legs. I don't know why, because this turned out to be the simplest step in the whole process, but we took our time getting to it.
Once we finally did make the legs though, we just attached them to the leaves with more cheap hinges and we were pretty much done.

Oh, except for attaching castors to the bottom of the table so that it can easily be rolled around our kitchen (we've got linoleum).

At that point, all that was left to do was to put some of our bowls and cook-books into the storage compartments, and have breakfast!

Okay, that might have been dinner, but you know what I mean.

I love my kitchen table! It's got storage, so I can keep all of my cook-books right in the kitchen, and I can also store some of my smaller kitchen appliances that I don't use very often (like the ice-cream maker and the crock-pot), so that they don't take up much needed counter space.
I also love that it's blue, which is my favorite color.
And most of all, I love that we made it ourselves! And it was easy.

If I could start the whole project again, would I do anything differently?
    Yes, I would invest in a better quality plywood. We picked up a sheet of construction plywood for $25. With a lot of sanding and a coat of paint, it looks beautiful. But for $25 more, I would get Oak or Maple plywood next time and save myself a lot of sanding.

So that's it, our much awaited kitchen-table (at least, I've been waiting for it for a long time). What's next, you ask? That's a good question, I say. I don't know what's next. Right now we're shopping for some nice kitchen chairs, but I don't think we're going to make them.
I'm not sure what our next wood-working project will be, but I'm open to suggestions. Leave your ideas in the comments, and let me know what you think we should make!