Archive for July, 2010

a mad rabbit hole. . .

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

While we’ve made plenty of progress over the last year, our home is still very much in transition. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, there are many items mad is waiting to unpack until our rehab efforts are complete. Thankfully, there’s a room in the garage (that was once my dad’s bedroom) that facilitates this storage.

Storage Room

The garage storage room that enables the mad approach

Sometimes, however, our approach can be a little frustrating (especially given our well known type a tendencies). The good news is that today’s rabbit hole was started for a good cause. I brought a few things back with me from my five years in New York. An appreciation for real seasons, a partner in life, and an affection for the New York Mets baseball team. My fandom was prompted in part by Mike (who loves all things baseball) but also by getting to know the Mets over a four-year period. I like that they’re scappy–even though they have a pretty high payroll. I like that they always act like a team (as opposed to a gathering of well-paid position players). I like that they’re the ancestors of the Dodgers and the Giants. I like the big apple in the top hat and the whole Met mascot family. And I like that they’re always the underdog due to another NY baseball team that we don’t need to name. I will even admit that I even like the way the Mets make you earn your fandom. Mike and I don’t have any animosity towards other baseball teams, but the Mets are menschkeit to us (especially with Isaac Benjamin Davis at first base and Howie Rose announcing the plays).

How does this relate to our storage room? The Mets are kicking off their west coast roadtrip this week. In honor of this, Mike and I decided to get some bleacher seats to see them at AT&T park here in SF. There really aren’t any bad seats at our local ballpark, and one of our best dates was going to see the Brooklyn Cyclones at Coney Island in the bleachers. Of course, to properly pay tribute to the Mets I wanted to bring my super-cool stadium seat cushion. And of course, this cushion was still packed away in one of our many boxes full of art in the storage room.

nym stadium seat

the cause of today's rabbit hole

Mike was kind enough to halt work on his office to locate the cushion. After a couple of hours, he found it–in the last box he looked in (why are these things always in the last box?). Of course, he found a few other items that we’ve agreed to take out of storage (towels and sheets)–and the room is neater and more organized than when he started. I showed my appreciation for Mike’s efforts by making him a homemade pizza while he was working away. Now both residents of mad maison are sated.

mad pizza

a little thank you from one member of mad maison to another

mad & spicy

Monday, July 12th, 2010

My culinary skills have been developing over the last 15 years (though they’re still very much a work in progress). I enjoy trying out new recipes, and Mike willingly beta tests my kitchen creations. While I did a healthy amount of cooking in New York, our small galley kitchen in Queens was a challenge. While it had new floors, cabinets, countertops, and appliances (as well as wonderful light), space was tight. Nowhere was this more evident that in the area of spice storage. The only place I could store my spices were in magnetic ikea spice containers above my stove. Any moderately spicy cook will tell you that was the worst place for them–spices last the longest when they’re stored in a cool, dark place. In addition, while the ikea containers were great when I wanted to use a measuring spoon, they were not ideal when I just wanted a dash or sprinkle of a given spice.

NY spices

my spice collection on display in Queens, NY

Our new kitchen, while in need of some cosmetic help, is much more usable. It’s larger, with significantly more counter and cabinet space. I have an entire shelf in one of those many cabinets devoted to storing my spices (yes, I did replace them when I moved across country). Since the kitchen is so much easier to cook in (I can use my slow cooker and food processor at the same time), I’ve been using my spices quite a bit. Because they’re tucked in a cabinet I’ve kept them in the original jars. Over the last year, I’ve gotten more and more frustrated with the standard grocery store spice jar. I realized I wanted a spice jar that I could quickly use whether I wanted to sprinkle, pour, or measure a spice. I learned that the few jars I kept from my old NY grocery delivery service, Fresh Direct, were perfect.


My perfect Fresh Direct spice jar next to an ersatz jar

Of course, Fresh Direct doesn’t deliver to San Francisco, and they aren’t able to ship spice jars to me either. I checked out the spice jars at ikea, and none of them met all my needs. The Rationell jars had the functionality I wanted, but too much plastic. The Droppar jars looked great, but the functionality was lacking. The 365 jars had all the function I was looking for, but I knew the tapered shape would prove frustrating after a while. I was starting to feel like the Goldilocks of spice storage.
ikea jars

Thankfully, while picking up a dough blender at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I found the perfect spice jar. It’s primarily glass, with a chrome and plastic top that provides me with all the functionality I was looking for. Online they don’t sell the jar on its own (only in those giant spice racks), but I found in the store the price was comparable to the ikea jars. I printed up labels and transferred my spices to their new home.


spices, before


spices, after

And for those of you who are curious, no, they aren’t organized alphabetically. I use my oregano a lot more than my cumin.

mad bling

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Back in February mad shared our project to add a vanity area to our bedroom for me. After a few months, I realized there was a component missing. As part of my DIY streak I have quite a few necklaces. I wanted to find a way to store them that would discourage tangling and make it easy to incorporate them into my morning routine. Previously, I stored my necklaces in a hacked wooden medicine cabinet–but having them behind a door in a cabinet that was a little too “country” for my evolving tastes wouldn’t work in mad maison. I had seen numerous open displays of jewelry that I thought worked well, but none of those displays supported the number of necklaces I have. I also wanted something that could “tuck away” to avoid tempting the cats from turning my creativity into a cat toy. After a little bit of research I realized a towel holder might do the trick. I found one at ikea that had clean lines and a little upturn to keep the necklaces on the holder. Mike and I installed it on the wardrobe we have in the bedroom. I absolutely love it–my necklaces are readily available but not in the way.

jewelry storage

my new necklace storage, with Max's approving gaze

You might be surprised to see my necklaces organized by type and color (if you’ve forgotten that I built a database for our cross-country move). Mike wasn’t surprised at all.

jewelry storage 2

my necklaces in action

mad 1, wallpaper 0

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

mad is celebrating this fourth of July weekend by continuing to assert our independence from wallpaper. The optimism displayed in my previous post was validated today when mad removed all of the remaining wallpaper from Mike’s office walls. Using both DIF and our power steamer, we were able to eradicate all of the wallpaper in a few hours.

Removing Wallpaper from Mike's Office

Mike persevering over wallpaper thanks to DIF and our Power Steamer

Of course, removing the wallpaper is the first of many steps in rehabbing a room mad style. We now have to wash the walls with TSP, and of course, complete the ever-important plaster repair. We’re trying something a little new at mad maison and sharing a short video of our old plaster walls that wiggle off the lathe:

mad’s taking a much-deserved couple of days off to enjoy the holiday weekend, but we’ll be back next week with plaster repair, spackling, priming, and painting.

a little mad project

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Mike and I have started to make great progress on our second bedroom (which serves as Mike’s office). The room was being used even though it was in quite a state, so the first thing we had to do was move out of it. We’ve temporarily relocated Mike’s desk and miscellany to our bedroom, and all the items that we were “storing” in his office have been moved to various undisclosed locations. This room is exciting for a few reasons:

1. We removed about half of the wallpaper “dry” (without DIF or steam) right after we moved in.
2. There is only one layer of wallpaper on the walls.
3. We don’t need to “live” in the room while we work in it.

All of this allows for a cleaner and smoother room rehab that we’ll be reporting on in future mad maison postings. In the meanwhile, I thought I would share another little project I’ve taken on myself. This was another mad garage find that I’m going to try to turn into something we’ll use and enjoy. I’m going to try to improve a lamp that belonged to my grandparents with some gumption and spray paint. This lamp caught my eye for a few reasons–it doesn’t have any flowers on it (which is unusual for my grandparents belongings) and I like the “two-tier” effect of the lampshade. I will share after pictures when I’ve completed the project. I do recognize that it’s a little odd that I’ve taken on smaller “hobby” projects to distract me from my huge renovation “hobby.” My commitment to mad maison is that profound.

a little project

my little lamp project (before)