Rover the Lawn Mower

Shortly after Chris and I moved in we bought a push lawn mower at Urban Ore. Neither of us wanted a gas one, and because we don't have very much grass, we figured a push mower would be enough to tame our front and backyard. We were wrong. From the beginning it didn't cut very well, it got stuck in divets REALLY easily and it was generally just a real hassle to use.

We didn't want to sell out though. Having a gas lawn mower pollutes, you always have to have gas around, and they smell pretty bad. But we really needed one that WORKED, so we didn't know what to do.

Enter Rover. We has scoped out some electric lawn mowers when we were looking for our grill, but held out. But, when our grass in the backyard reached knee high and the weeds in the front started REALLY getting out of control, out of respect for our neighbors we decided it was time to bite the bullet and get one.

So over the weekend we went to Sears to seriously look at lawn mowers. The electric ones seemed really cool, so we GOT ONE! The only down side is that it has a cord :( The ones a bit higher up on the price scale can be charged and then run sans cord, but we didn't want to pay that much. Plus, we figure vacuums have cords and those really aren't that big of a pain, so this shouldn't be too bad either. And, it felt good getting an electric one because we won't be polluting :)

Last night Chris broke Rover out

And we both took him out for a spin

He's an excellent addition to our family :) And, he works GREAT, I recommend one.



One of the greatest things about being an art major was taking lots of different art history classes. One of my favorites was Art and the City at Berkeley that focused on Paris in the 19th century. Among other things, I got to learn all about Impressionism, which is my second favorite period in art history behind the architecture of the ancient Greeks and Romans (strangely, the two could really not be more different).

I loved Impressionist paintings and remember talking about them with Chris on a road trip we took. I think they are so beautiful. One of my favorite paintings is La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

Which you've seen if you've watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off (another Seurat, The Circus, is in the background)

Seurat was incredibly interested in science and ideas relating color to feelings and moods. He is most famous for Pointillism, a style of painting where hundreds and thousands of dots are used in groupings with each other to give the appearance of color and fill that makes blending and definition look magical.

I've made shoes for other people, so I thought I'd finally make some for myself. I didn't know what to do with them at first, but then I decided to make them my Pointillism shoes. There isn't any image or recreational event on them like the Impressionists, but just a collection of lots of blue dots.

I love them! From far away they look especially cool. I think next time I may try a design with different colors and try some color optical illusions. Yeay for my new shoes!


Mud mud mud

I've gotten pretty good (if I do say so myself) at applying mud to cover up the drywall transitions. And, it's another job I really like.

Yesterday once Chris showed me how to apply it along the seams (earlier I was covering the nail holes), I started motoring along. I probably got about 1/2 of the room done (minus a few places Chris already did), so today between going to my dad's for Doris' birthday, I should be able to get the second coat all done.

The plan (of course I always say that and it rarely sticks) is to paint the kitchen sometime between Friday-Sunday of next week. Chris says Saturday, but it's his BIRTHDAY so I really don't want to do that (Chris is so lucky his birthday is the 4th of July, he never has to go to school or work on his birthday, lucky :) ).

While I worked on mudding, Chris worked on putting up new drywall in the laundry room. The previous owners had put up some strange tile up on the ceiling, so earlier in the week Chris took it down

And now the drywall is starting to go up

I also worked on testing out the THIRD round of stains (although there is only 4 this time)

After a hard day of work Chris, my dad and I went to the A's game. One of the guys I work with had a gotten a deal on Diamond level seats and his wife had 3 extra tickets. They're regularly $250 each but we got them for $50! They're the seats DIRECTLY behind home plate on field level (Wendy saw us on TV, hehehe). There is also ALL YOU CAN EAT food and the servers come over to you and take your order. We definitely made up the price with all the food we ate. For fun, after the game we totaled up how much we though all the food we ate cost, and we're pretty sure we got a good deal :) Chris alone had 5 lobster sandwiches (although they were about 4 bites). I had a lobster sandwich, buffalo wings, two sodas, two waters, Dryer Dibs, and A LOT of candy (we stashed a bunch of it for movie outings, hehehe). The A's fell behind early (what else is new) but nearly came back in the ninth scoring 3 runs! They still lost by 2 though :( The game clocked in at nearly 4 hours! Good fun was had by all, and it was a really great experience.



Four things have been known to cheer me up when I'm cranky
  • sleep: on the baseball trip when I would get a little loopy Chris frequently told me to go to the back of the car to take a nap
  • food: as MANY people closely related to me will agree with
  • organizing: checking things off my lists and using my label maker
  • the misfortunes of others: exemplified by Daniel Tosh's show, Tosh.0, or also the clip Chris found on Youtube of a toddler carrying a cat to a fountain, attempting to throw it in, but instead falling in himself (the whole video is funny, but said clip is at 0:53)
Our manuals are a bit out of control. Between the household appliances we've gotten and Chris' garage full of tools we had accumulated quite a lot of them. We'd been keeping them all in a container, but because we had so many it was getting impossible to find anything. Call in Meryl. Here are our manuals before, being somewhat organized into piles

I bought a plastic bin, some hanging file folders and organized the manuals into groups (A/V, appliances, separate piles for different tool manufacturers, general home stuff, etc.) Ta da! (of course it's all in alphabetical order)

I was quite pleased with myself.

While this was an important task :), Chris also finished the first layer of mud in the kitchen, yeay!!!!

As well as the second layer of stucco outside

Tonight I'm working another A's game and then going out to Fenton's and a bar or two afterwards (I have named myself the Diamond Vision event planner and plan crew outings once a month). This weekend we've got a bunch of stuff planned, including the 80th birthday of Wendy's grandmother Doris!

I have also decided what (I think) I'm going to do for a living.....become a teacher. I wanted to be a teacher when I was little (and was even given the award of "Best Student Teacher" in 7th grade), but the idea sort of went away as I got older. This whole job hunt has really been a bummer and I haven't really been totally drawn to anything. I went over to my friend Jen and Brenda's house to give them their wedding present (when I went to their wedding it hadn't arrived yet) and was talking with them about the job search (Jen is looking also). Brenda is a special needs teacher of 6-7 graders (I hope I got that right) and I started talking with her about it. I wasn't really too serious when we were talking, but the more and more I got to thinking about it, the more and more I liked the idea again. I really want to have a job where I feel like I'm making a difference and not just going to a job to make money. I've signed up to take the CBEST and for an information night at CSU East Bay (both in August). I feel like it's a job that will suite me well and that I'll enjoy. I know I will get frustrated a lot, but I think the feeling of going home each day feeling like you've made a difference will more than make up for that. So I'm off on my job adventure!


I hate testing stains

Well, we couldn't decide on a stain out of the 11 more I tested out. Bleh. Chris and I both liked different ones. He likes ones that are more red, I really don't like them. I like ones where the stain pops a bit more, he really doesn't like them. Tomorrow we will have to go to Ace to get MORE stain samples to test them out. Hopefully when we finally decide on one we'll have enough wood leftover to lay the flooring down in the kitchen (haha). We've already tested 23 pieces.

Saw the new Transformers last night. We were going to see it at a midnight showing Tuesday night, but I was really tired after I worked the A's game, so we called the theater to make sure we could get a refund on our already purchased tickets and then called it a night. I'm glad I didn't stay up late to have a tired next day filming to watch it. What a piece of crap. I'm really not a fan of action movies for action sequence sake, there has to be a good plot line also. This one did have a plot, but it was a bit ridiculous and I really can't stand Megan Fox. I really don't understand why people think she's so cute, I do not think she is attractive at all. She's also a pretty bad actress and her only skill is pouting annoyingly (much like Kiera Knightley). Bad choice of a movie John Turturo, I expect better from you.

To cheer me up we walked into The Hangover when Transformers was over. It was just as funny the second time around, and did the job of perking me up.

Off to Staples and Target to see if they have some sort of organizational system for me to organize our manuals better. At the moment we just have a box of all of them and it's pretty difficult finding anything. Hopefully finish layer one of mud and tape, get another stucco layer up, clean and organize today. Also, hopefully get in a better mood after being annoyed about the wood stains.



Happy Father's Day to all the daddies out there. I'm pretty lucky, I have TWO awesome dads, so I wish them a very very very happy father's day, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY CLARKE AND DAD!!!

We've been pretty productive this weekend. WE FINISHED THE DRYWALL!!! I am SO happy we finally got this done. The kitchen actually looks like a room now!

Now, we're working on the first layer of mud and tape (covering up the nail holes and seams where the pieces of drywall come together)

We were hoping to get the first layer done today, but we probably won't get that far. It takes a bit longer than expected. Like painting though, the first coat takes the longest, so coats 2 and 3 shouldn't take as long. We might be able to get started painting next weekend, but most likely it'll be early the week after.

Chris also got the first layer of stucco (also called the scratch coat) on the wall outside where we installed the new door a couple weekends ago

While I was helping Chris with the mud I also worked on staining samples of wood (this has been on my "to do" list for a LONG time). Most of the orignal flooring in the house is in excellent shape. We're just adding hardwood to the kitchen and we may have to replace some in my art room. Other than that, save for a few minor stains, the original floors look great. Neither Chris or I like the look of light wood, so we bought some sample sizes of stain and I worked on testing some out. We'll stain the wood in the kitchen first, and as we go throughout the house redoing each room we'll sand and stain the floor. I cut up 12 small pieces of wood and got to testing different stains and combinations.

Sadly, after sanding, conditioning, staining, and sealing all 12 pieces throughout the day yesterday, neither Chris or I really liked how any of them looked :( We're not big fans of Oak flooring because the grain pops out SO much, and the shades we selected really seemed to make it pop out more. So, we made a quick run to Home Depot (what would be a weekend without a trip to Home Depot) and bought MORE stain. I cut another 11 pieces and started the process over again. After putting on the conditioner and first coat, I already like how these are turning out better, so hopefully one of them works out

We've been good about going to the movies this weekend too. We've seen The Phenix City Story (pretty good), The Proposal (not so good) and The Taking of Pelham 123 (good). We've got LOTS of movies planned the rest of the week. I've also got three days at LHB, 2 games for the A's, and one day of filming a site inspection. So it'll be a busy week.



A little pick me up

On our baseball roadtrip back in 2006 Chris introduced me to a comic by the name of Daniel Tosh. We probably listened to his CD about 3 times on the trip (which is a lot for us), and every time it was HILARIOUS.

He's pretty offensive, rude, and gross, which to me are all very humorous things. I still laugh and laugh when I think of his jokes. Recently, Chris discovered that he has a special on Comedy Central right now for 10 weeks or something like that.

It's 30 minutes and he reviews, comments, and makes fun of all sorts of stuff on the internet. It's definitely the medicine to perk me up. I highly recommend it.

We went to Home Depot today to pick up our decking. We got Trex in a Cayenne finish which is a little reddish.

Chris really liked it and I liked another finish more, but he's let me get a lot of stuff I've wanted, so I thought it would be nice to even things out a bit. Not sure when we'll start building it. Saturday we plan to finish the last little bits of drywall, tape, do the first layer of mud and clean up the house a bit. We'll see how much of that we actually get done (I hope most of it!)



That's pretty much how I feel at the moment. This whole job search business kinda sucks. It's great that in college I found something I really like and am good at, but majoring in art with a concentration in sculpture and video really isn't going to get me hired anywhere. I've only been looking for a month but I've probably applied to 10 places so far - no luck at this point.

I'm really lucky because I have two part time jobs at the moment, LHB and the A's. I'm making enough money because we're nearing trial in a case at LHB and they need me to film site inspections (and that makes me extra money) and the A's are always dependable for about 6 games a month, but I'm starting to worry for when that's over. I'm not sure how much longer LHB will need me for site inspections, and baseball season will be done in September (well, techincally the very beginning of October - there's a game on my birthday this year!).

I've been really stressed out about what will happen come October. I know in this economy it's really difficult to find a job, and majoring in Art really does nothing to help me. But, my goal is to have a full time job by my birthday. If I don't, it will be really hard to work on the house without extra cash-flow. And, not having health insurance constantly worries me as well. I haven't been going to the gym for a while, and I used to be really good about it, so Chris helped coax me to go to a yoga class yesterday. I used to do yoga ALL THE TIME with my mom when I was in high school, and it always made me feel better. Since then, I've been off an on about it (mostly off towards when my knee started bothering me again), but going last night made me feel better. My mind is constantly racing and I can never seem to stop thinking or stressing out, but something about yoga really calms me down.

Today after I got home from a site inspection I made my usual rounds on job boards and websites...no luck. I'm trying to be more positive lately and not such a Debbie Downer, but it's hard not to get put back in my funk. No kitchen, still TONS of work, and no job prospects, booooo.


Broomball Bruises

Chris and I have been pretty good about working on the house the last couple of days when we get home from work. We were on a streak for a while where we just did organizing in the evenings, but we've buckled down because both of us want the kitchen DONE. So, we've been finishing up the drywall the last few days, but having big huge brusies on your knees doesn't make it very comfortable to bend up and down throughtout the day cutting and installing it

(those are my knees, it looks like I'm playing soccer again)

Yesterday we worked on these two corners

When we were demolishing the kitchen we took out part of the wall (in the above pic) to allow for more cabinet space (it sounds weird, but it actually makes sense) and to also make the kitchen appear larger (the kitchen is pretty small). We also made the cut out that leads into the TV room. We made them arches because all the pass throughs in the house that aren't closing doors are arches, so we wanted to make them match the original architecture as much as possible. Getting the drywall into place has been a little difficult, but they're the exact same height as the original arches, and Chris made an awesome template, so their curvature looks identical.

I would say the two most frustrating things about the house so far have been 1) the amazing stupidity of the previous owners (the live wires that go to nothing, ignoring pretty serious damage, EXTREMELY poor craftsmanship, etc.) and 2) things taking A LOT longer than expected. I think Chris was better prepared for this than I was, but it has been hard. Granted, we're both working and going to school, but we haven't had a kitchen for 6 months. I really thought it would only take till the end of May, but boy was I wrong. Whenever you watch those home improvement shows and things take so much longer than expected, you always think, "well, they just don't have a proper schedule, blah blah blah." Well, it DOES take way longer than expected, especially when doing everything yourself.


Family Weekend

We didn't get too much done this weekend because we had two family visits, but it was really great hanging out with everyone.


We got up a little late and headed out to run some errands. Eventually we're going to have to rip up the drive way and some of the patio in the back, so we went to a nearby landscape place to see what they had and about how much we would have to spend. The guy who worked there was really great, they had a good selection, and the prices seemed pretty decent. After we went to a marble and stone place to start checking out countertop and backsplash material. Chris and I are split on whether we're going to get granite or Quartz composite. At this place we only saw granite, but I found a few I liked. We also looked at backsplash to check out prices. I really want glass, but it seems to be a bit more expensive. Neither of us like natural stone because it looks like every house you see in the suburbs and it feels a bit vacant of personality, at least to us.

When we got home we cleaned for a bit and then it was the first family visit. Chris' dad Brad was up from LA in Fresno visiting his sister, brother-in-law and their kids, so they came up to see us (minus brother-in-law). I haven't met much of Chris' dad's family, so it was nice. His aunt Stacy, and her four kids Sam (17), Sean (15), Joy (12) and Laura (9) were all very nice. Chris' sister Sarah came over to hang out also. Stacy home schools her kids and it was interesting talking with them about that. We went to lunch together, and then out to a park near our house. The park was an interesting experience. As soon as we got out of the car with basketball, football and soccer ball in tow, two kids came running up to us and said, "You going to the park?" We said yes, and they became our instant friends, a girl about 8 and a boy about 10. Chris played basketball and football with his sister, dad and most of the younger kids (including a few at the park already who joined in) and I stayed with his aunt and her older kids and hung out and talked while Sam taught me some Origami. I thought it was really cool how we didn't really know anyone at the park, but that everyone was playing together and had become friends. I feel like nowadays people don't really do that because everyone is terrified of their kids getting kidnapped or abducted, so it was really nice seeing complete strangers play together and have a lot of fun. After a couple hours people started getting tired, so we made the trek back home, said good-bye and off they went. Chris and I were pretty tired too, so we watched a movie and hung out the rest of the night.


We had a lazy Sunday morning hanging out and watching a movie. I don't think we've ever done that since we moved in, so that was nice. At around noon my mom and Clarke came over and we showed them the changes we've made to the house since the last time they'd been here. We decided to go out to lunch in Alameda at a cute little restaurant named Ole's (recommended). It was nice visiting because since we've gotten the house we've been really busy and so I haven't gotten to see as much of my mom and I used to. It's nice because I work at Clarke's office, so I get to hang out and visit with him a lot. We chatted about the house, sports (Clarke and I argued about Barry Bonds, which is pretty routine), and their upcoming vacation to New York. After lunch my mom went to a class she signed up for at the Apple store in Emeryville, and me and Chris headed back home to do housework.

Our goal was to get all the drywall in the kitchen done and ready to be taped and muded

We didn't get quite as much done as we would have hoped, but we did do a lot. All that's left is one of the arches, and then the walls in the breakfast nook and TV room that share a wall with the kitchen. Tonight after work we hope to get that done, and also install another outlet in the TV room before we cover up the wall. Hopefully we get it all done!


Don't Play Broomball...

...without health insurance. But more on that later.

We haven't been too productive the last week or so at the house. I've worked four days at LHB, filmed a site inspection, and worked two games for the A's, so I haven't been able to help out Chris very much. We won't get the stucco up and deck rebuilt for probably another ten days, but hopefully in that time we'll get the drywall finished and things moving along on the inside of the kitchen.

We did however get a grill! I've been eyeing grills whenever we walk into Home Depot, but we thought it would be a good idea to wait until later because we could spend the money in many other ways. However, Chris' aunt Nora had 10 pounds of leftover chicken from a school event for their younger daughter, so she gave it to us. 10 pounds of raw chicken was enough to finally get the grill. So, yesterday night after work we went to Home Depot to check out what they had. They had a decent selection, but neither of us really like Home Depot very much, so we went to Sears after to compare. We found about the same stuff for the same price at Sears, and decided to go ahead and get the grill there because we like Sears as a company more than HD (Chris and I are both really brand loyal). I had money leftover from my mom and Clarke from graduation, so $400 later we have a 4 burner, 48,000 BTU, 588 square inch grill, a propane tank, and some grilling accesories. We got home at about 8:30 and Chris decided to take it upon himself to start assembling it

Chris got a lot done

But alas, we had to finish today

Chris grilled up some yummy chicken

And I made a tasty salad

It sure beat microwave pizzas! Having the grill is SUPER exciting. It will definitely change the way we eat. We'll still have microwave and raw food, but now we can actually cook things! I have no idea why we didn't do this sooner.

Today was Chris friend Johnny's 30th birthday. He rented one of the rinks at the Oakland Ice Center and about 25 of us got together to play broomball. I've never played before, so I was a bit nervous. The Phillips children are good at a lot of sports, but we can't seem to do sports where things are attached to our feet (water ski, skate, ice skate, skateboard, etc.). And I don't like to play sports, games, etc that I'm not good at. You don't wear skates to play broomball, but me and the ice don't have a great past relationship. It was a lot of fun though! We played for about 2 1/2 hours (my team won 4-2!) It was hilarious watching people totally crash and slide all over the place, except of course when you were the one being taken out. I fell on my knees a few times, on my shoulder and on my side. I also got slammed in the hand by the birthday boy's "broom" and immediately it became swollen. It's still swollen and tender to type and I can already see some discoloration, but I think with some ice it should be okay. My knees on the other hand are REALLY sore, especially my right one (surgery knee). We'll see how Chris and I feel tomorrow. It was totally worth it though. I was a little aggravated in the beginning because I felt like the teams weren't fair (and I can TEND to get a little frustrated when I play sports, but just a LITTLE), but as the night wore on it ended up being a lot of fun.

Tomorrow is the Picardy's street wide yard sale. It's a pretty cool event they do (along with lights at Christmas time). We don't have anything to sell, but most of the houses along our street should have some stuff to look through tomorrow from 8-2, so I'm pretty excited :)


Grocery shoppping

This is what your fridge and cupboard look like when you've just gone grocery shopping for a bunch of food you have to eat raw or cook in a microwave or toaster oven

Jerry Seinfeld would be proud of all our cereal

LOTS of frozen food.

Here's to hoping we only have to go grocery shopping ONE MORE TIME before the kitchen is done. That is Chris and my goal. It's quite embarassing to arrive at the checkout counter with $50 in frozen meals. I always want to tell the cashier, "we're not losers, we know how to cook, we're just remodeling our kitchen." I think they would probably think we were more strange if I said that though.


Another Day, Another Door

For the time being, we have no plywood door, and that is very exciting. (We may have another in a month or two, or whenever we decide to replace the sliding glass door in the back, but we don't have one NOW :) ).

Yesterday Chris finished installing the side door.

We also took a run to the dump. We had two decks and some junk from the bathroom in our trash pile in the backyard, so it was getting a little out of control. Strangely, I really enjoy loading the truck to take our construction waste to the dump. I think (along with my sense of completion when I check things off my lists) I feel like I have won something. If I can load every single bit of space completely full, I win. I have talked with Chris many times about how my (somewhat deranged) obsession with competition infiltrates many aspects of my life, and this is one of them. But, I got EVERYTHING except the two glass sliding bath tub doors into the back of the truck, so I felt pretty proud of myself, as you can see

NORMALLY, it's really good to load it this full. You get charged by the cubic yard at the dump, and 1/2 full is 1 cubic yard, and all the way full is 2, or so we thought. We've never been charged for 2.5, ever, and we've been this full before. But, the guy who was working there charged us for 2.5, making our total $67 instead of about $45! I was quite annoyed. All my hard work cramming that thing and I got us charged $20 extra. Damnit. Along with the bad dump run luck, Chris stepped on a rusty nail while loading the truck :( He got a tetanus shot 6 years ago, so he should be okay, but by the end of the day after being on his feet for so long, his foot got a bit sore and swollen. It seems to be healing fine, so he'll just take it easy for the next few days. My mom said to look out for red streaks on his skin as it heals, so Nurse Meryl will be on close watch.

We also planned out our two decks, the first off the kitchen and the second in the backyard. We tried to go to Home Depot after the dump run to order the Trex, but that desk is closed on Sundays, so we'll go today when we're done with work.

At the end of the night we decided to work on hanging some drywall in the kitchen while we watched the basketball game. Chris and I both hate the Lakers (Chris ESPECIALLY), so we were sad when the Magic lost again. But, we got a decent amount of drywall hung, so the kitchen is actually starting to look like a real room.

Every step along the way to finishing the kitchen is very exciting. I patiently (and by patiently I mean not at all) await the day we have a real kitchen, I am quite tired of preparing our meals in this:


Wait wait

My favorite time, EASILY, to work on the house is Saturdays from 11-12 when "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" is on NPR. Chris and I normally listen to NPR on the radio as we're working, and I always look forward to this date and time. Sundays is very disappointing because "Praire Home Companion" is on at that time (sorry mom and Clarke), so I always get a little sad. Equally as disappointing is when noon rolls around because then "This American Life" comes on and I can't stand the way that guy talks or the music they use, it's so forced. The stories are somewhat interesting, but the delivery is just so self-important, and I get annoyed. But Peter Sagal really just does the trick. There have been a few times when I have delayed a task a second or two so I can finish hearing the question/joke on "Wait Wait," which I know Chris must really enjoy, but I can't help it!

Today Chris worked on framing and installing the side door and I organized our very messy house. It was an early day because Chris found the exact same Roto Hammer he was interested in buying brand new on craigslist for WAY cheaper than Home Depot or Amazon was selling it, so we left around 3 to return the one we had to the Oakland Tool Lending Library and drove out to Dublin to meet the guy to pick it up. We met at a big shopping center to get it, then hung around for a bit, shopped a little, then had an early dinner and saw Land of the Lost and Drag Me To Hell. It was a pretty pleasant day all around. Probably didn't get as much done on the house as normal, but sometimes you need a bit of a lazier day.