Guest Bathroom

When we bought our house, we knew that our second bathroom was sort of terrible. The fixtures were nice, but the room was painted bright yellow with a sort of multi-layer brown/gold spongy finish. I suppose the previous owners had thought that the effect would be rich and elegant. I thought that the effect led one to believe that a large mammal had been smeared in its own poop and then had seizures in the room, blotting the excrement all over the walls.

A second problem involved the sink. It was a nice Kohler pedestal, but its lack of a cabinet meant that there was no storage at all in the small bathroom. This was a problem for our teenager – even a low-maintenance girl like Mandy needs a place to store a few bathroom things. Since the room doubles as a guest bathroom, there was no way for her to store her own lotions and potions that still allowed the room to be presentable for guests. It was getting more and more frustrating for all of us.

So this year, one of her holiday gifts will be a remodeled bathroom.

On the Saturday Mandy left for her annual winter trip to Tulsa, Bryan and I shopped for and bought a new vanity, counter, and sink for the bathroom. Sunday was spent removing the fixtures, repainting the room, reinstalling the toilet and adding the new vanity.


We all wanted a brighter orange wall color, but it would have clashed with the granite countertop. It’s actually turned out rather more classy and grown-up than we’d intended, but it’s very pretty and I suppose we’ll manage.

The Amazing Giant Cat Tree Palace Sniper Tower

We asked Nathan to borrow his Big Dummy cargo bike, and I swung by Pete’s on Thursday after work to pick it up since that’s where Nathan was storing it. While doing so, I couldn’t help but notice that Pete’s neighbors across the street had put one of those enormously expensive cat trees on the curb next to their trash can. Some of the carpet was worn through, but it seemed clean and bug-free so Pete and I shoved it into my Subaru.

I spent Saturday morning with a utility knife, ripping carpet and rope off the cat tree. I vacuumed it and covered it with a just-in-case coat of flea spray. Once Bryan discovered a similar cat tree for sale online for $400, he cheerfully supported my project. We moved it inside and I spent some time over the weekend wrapping the now-naked legs with new manila rope.(four 50-foot packs of 1/4″ rope and three 50-foot packs of 3/8″ rope)

Hayduke thinks that, when the cats chase him around spitting and clawing for his eyeballs, that means they want to play. Hopefully they’ll use their new Amazing Giant Cat Tree Palace Sniper Tower to climb up and away from the overenthusiastic puppy.

Tent Cleaning

Seeing as how this blog’s name is “Past Tents”, you shouldn’t be┬ásurprised┬áto find out that we are frequent tent USERS but we’re not very good about maintenance. We tend to leave our tents crammed into their stuff sacks for weeks after a camping trip, without airing them out or cleaning them at all.

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Finally, we had enough of stinky tents and washed all four of them this afternoon. We scrubbed them down with soapy water, rinsed them, and even soaked each piece in Mirzyme to get rid of that wet-tent smell. We hung our strange laundry on the backyard line to dry in the breeze. Worked like a charm.

DIY Bike Stand

Aly has been talking about fixing up her old 1985 Schwinn Voyageur and before we can take it to the shop to see if there are any major defects we can’t detect, we need to clean it up a bit. So that sounded like a good excuse to build a work stand for our bikes (c:

An article on had plans on how to make a $30 DIY Bike Stand so Mandy and I tackled it after work tonight and you can see our finished product in the photo up top. Turns out it was super easy to make but I was bummed that it cost more $55 (w/tax).

Below you can see all the parts needed (including ones we didn’t need like four of the washers and the pipe cap). We followed the instructions pretty much as is though we used 3/4″ pipe for the vertical member instead of the 1″ called for in that article.

The two pipes are joined together with an elbow …

… and the pipes are attached to a flange which is mounted on the base board …

… a pipe clamp holds two pieces of wood which clamp on to the bikes seat post. Making the grooves in the wood blocks was actually the most time consuming part of this project.

They fly?

Here is a photo of the type of “squirrel” we’ve been dealing with in our attic. This one appeared in our living room tonight without any invitation, probably due to the cold weather we’re having again. It (and the others I’ve removed over the last few months) are apparently southern flying squirrels.

Our cat Jose chased him into the kitchen and we thought he would take care of everything. Except all he wanted to do was play with the stupid thing. I was called to the scene to dispatch the squirrel and save the women folk and in short order peace was restored to the homestead.

Roof vent goopy-goop

With the eight inches of rain we received in two days back at Christmas time, we became aware that the ~23 year old house had a leaking roof vent.

So we took a clear afternoon and got out the ladder, some roof vent goopy-goop, latex gloves and proceeded to smear each vent with a layer of sealer.

We’re hoping the sealer does the job and when we wind up replacing the roof (original to the house) we’ll replace all the vents outright.

Jellybean Storage Epiphany

I’m pleased to report that with this past weekend’s hike, I’ve perfected my jellybean routine. Really, this is such an important point that I’ve removed mention of it from the actual backpacking blog entry and made it an entirely separate post. That’s how important it is that you understand.

For years, Jelly Belly beans have been a sort of ritual for me. I always hike with a baggie of them, and I eat them one at a time and make a note of what flavor they are. For years I’ve fought ripped jellybean bags and been frustrated by floppy Ziploc and sticky beans spilled out in pack pockets and left to fuse themselves together in the damp darkness.

I recently had a Jellybean Storage Epiphany and bought this fabulous rectangular Nalgene from the Container Store. It fits perfectly in my hipbelt pocket and makes me very happy. I cut out the ‘flavor guide’ or whatever it’s called, cut it in half, and stuck it to the sides of the bottle with packing tape.

And then I asked Bryan to take these excellent photos of my Jellybean Bottle. That’s how important it is that you understand. (Thanks sweety!)

Does it ever end?

We decided to spend the weekend doing all the wonderful tasks that come with owning a house figuring we can burn a weekend doing that stuff and not piecemeal it over the rest of the summer.