Let’s Hear It for the Boy

(Whoa, I remembered this being a Madonna song. That’s not right at all.)

Just so you know, I’m not the only one hard at work in Maplewood 2. The way I see it: I do the projects; Jarrod does the necessary.  He moves the dishes from one side of the sink to the other and, via some black magic, they turn clean in the process.  He transforms lettuce into salads and beans into coffee.  He does something that makes the trash and recycling receptacles become empty – it’s quite inscrutable.

Three of Jarrod’s other major contributions to Maplewood have been:

1) Painting the top edges of the walls that I can’t reach.

2) Shimming our leaning bookcases so that they work with our uneven floors/window moulding.

As a reward for wrestling with these bookcases, I devoted an entire shelf to nerdery.

3) Becoming The Keymaster.

Before we moved in, I was given a set of seven keys. Amazingly, this wasn’t enough to get into the apartment. Seven (7! se7en!) keys, but I was missing the keys necessary for various locks on the front, back and garage doors. One of our first mornings in the apartment, the only garage key accidentally went to work with Jarrod, leaving me unable to get to the car, unable to leave for work, crying in the backyard, drinking my breakfast smoothie. (This was probably the height of the “I’ve made a huge mistake” phase.) After that incident, Jarrod gathered all of the keys left for us (like, all 30) and painstakingly tested, labeled, and organized them. I got a bunch of copies made and now we each have a complete set and I haven’t cried since. Except for that one scene in Friday Night Lights when Becky talks to the strippers about Luke. So sad and sweet!

Good work, Keymaster.


The Routh family will be descending upon Maplewood next weekend for Cora’s first birthday (robot-themed!). It will serve as good motivation for me to wrap up various projects. This is my working to-do list – I’m hampered by being out of town for three days this coming weekend, so I’m keeping the list achievable and making it public to keep me accountable!

Living Room
– Order roller shades
– Install roller shades (if they arrive in time)
– Get recliner refinished

Dining Room
– Figure out high baseboards + leaning bookshelves situation
– Unpack or relocate remaining boxes

Guest Room
– Find guest bed sheets
– Hang mirror (maybe)
– Paint ceiling fan
– Remove rust and paint Bertoia chair

– Install cord raceways
– Install hand towel hardware
– Move mirror two inches to the right (maybe? – a not-crazy person would say no)

– Hang art (short-term, though, because I have a DIY display idea in the works)
– Paint ceiling fan
– Touch up wall paint
– Seal island countertop
– Seal stepstool

Okay, I think that’s it. Sorry for the lack of pictures – I’m blogging on the train. Maybe I have a relevant iPhone picture . . .

Yep – here you go. This is what my handwritten to-do lists look like. Fascinating, I’m sure.


I’ve Made a Huge Mistake

Since the age of 19, I’ve been responsible for selecting eight living spaces (if you’re curious: that’s two in New York (short-term summer housing), one in Champaign and five in Chicago). Each time, upon move-in, I’ve suffered intense, stomach-dropping, soul-crushing regret. Even time, I’ve thought “I don’t remember it looking this shitty the first time I saw it.” Each time, I’ve thought “I’ve made a huge mistake” (the first and surely the only time this blog will link to CollegeHumor.com).

Everywhere I turn in a new place there are previously undiscovered flaws. This one’s got a lot. The landlords are batty. The baseboards are too high for our leaning bookcases. The oven’s pilot light is oddly loud and keeps our oven at 90 degrees at all times (that can’t be efficient, right? For the oven’s use of gas nor the air conditioner’s use of electricity?) Many of the electrical outlets aren’t grounded and many of the rooms don’t have light switches. The floors slope, making doors swing open or shut and never in the way you’d prefer. The walls are plaster. Everything is filthy. And tackling these problems only seems to turn up new problems – we taped off the ceilings to paint the bedroom walls, for example, and then when we pulled down the tape it removed huge patches of ceiling. Similarly, the new paint on the walls in the living room and dining room can be pulled off the wall in complete pieces, like peeling sunburned skin. And the worst part is that everything costs money and everything requires yet another trip to a big box store.

Anyway, at first I didn’t blog because we were just too busy trying to tame this beast, and then I didn’t blog because I knew anything I had to say would be really complainy. But now I’m on the other side of that, for the most part [she says after complaining for two paragraphs]. Stuff’s starting to come together. It is a good apartment – great backyard, nice neighbors, lots of room, high ceilings, big windows, tons of storage space (so much so that I’m worried about hoarding). All of the rooms are painted now except the kitchen, which should happen this weekend. I got two major pieces of furniture off Craigslist for a steal. Both bathrooms are finished: ours and the cats’. The vegetables in our shared garden are growing. (Cucumbers and tomatoes are probably fruit, technically. I think. Maybe? I can never keep that straight.) Pictures of all of this progress to come, along with pictures of everything left to tackle.

Really, check out that yard. What do I have to complain about?

Maplewood Planning: Bathroom

The Maplewood bathroom is the only step down from our current bathroom.  It’s small and made even more cramped by the angle of the door (see the floor plan here).  Here’s what it looks like with the current tenants’ decor:

(Sorry for the unsightly toilet shot.)

The only way this bathroom is going to work for us is if I can get a bigger mirror in there.  That tiny medicine cabinet is coming out.  I pulled out the medicine cabinet at our last apartment and replaced it with a nicer mirror, so there’s a precedence for success, but here we have that stupid wall outlet to work around.  My idea is take down the glass shelf and mount a mirror that spans across the sink and the toilet, using a SlimLine extension cord underneath it (love these things).  Maybe that’ll work?  And fingers crossed our current bathroom storage tower (ours has a different door) fits to the left of the toilet, although I’m afraid it’s literally 0.5 inches too wide.

Sorry to crib from Manhattan Nest again, but his bathroom re-do has me thinking about painting the walls a bolder color than I would otherwise be inclined.

(Image from Manhattan Nest)

Maybe with this shower curtain?

Maplewood Planning: Guest Room

The goal for the guest room is to have it not turn into a catch-all junk room like it is now.  Having a third room for catch-all junk purposes should make this possible.  I want the guest room to be simple and always ready for guests.  Because we love guests.  Seriously: if you’re reading this, you should come stay with us,  even if you live in Chicago, but especially if you live in Columbia, Iowa City, Minneapolis, Ankeny, New York, Rich Hill, Raymore or Newport Beach.

Here’s what the guest room looks like with the current tenants’ stuff:

And here are my goals:


Obviously, paint is a top priority.  Am I going to need a primer to cover up that yellow?!  Gah.  I’ll either choose white or the same shade of light gray I use in the rest of the apartment.


Bed: I bought a simple, used West Elm platform bed on CL last week – picture this one, except taller and without the headboard.  It came with a nice mattress.  (I then sold the existing guest room bed with the headboard I spray painted a while back.)   I will probably make a headboard to use with the new platform bed, similar to the one in our room.

Storage: Something small and functional for guests.  One of my dressers (there are several from which to choose!) or one of our two C&B Sloane bookshelves.

Decorating – The room doesn’t need much.

Full-length mirror for the back of the door: check.

Hook rail: check.  All guest rooms should have a bunch of hooks.  Or taxidermied deer heads, which serve the same purpose.

Rug: check.

Window treatment: something cheap.  Possibly some fabric made into a roman shade.

The bedroom door and the closet door are back to back, which I find problematic.  I may remove the closet door and replace it with a curtain, if possible.

I do like the ceiling fixture!

The overall aesthetic I’d like to achieve is Daniel’s bedroom over at Manhattan Nest.  (This room makes me want to paint everything white.)  I already have the chair!

Image from Manhattan Nest

I’m sorry if planning posts are super boring for everyone but me. If so, you should just skip the next five to six posts.