Sunday, December 27, 2009

Getting punchy again

It's been a crazy couple of weeks - I was in San Francisco for work, and got stuck there an extra two days because of giant snowstorm #1, which shut down the east coast airports. Luckily, I got home just as giant snowstorm #2 pummeled the middle of the country.

So, we've been laying pretty low. Our goal for holiday break is to work on the old punch list again, and after catching up on sleep after the jet-lagged, red-eye-flight, airport-dwelling beginning of the week, we started on a couple of those tasks.

Sorry readers, it's going to be a while still till our next big project - our bedroom. We pushed it back to March break - it'll just work better. Anyways, Item 1 on the punch list was to finally put a surround around our pellet stove. See, when we bought the stove, there were two different sets of dimensions for our model, depending on which piece of literature you had in your hand. We knew that it would either just barely or not quite fit all the way back in the firebox. Turns out, it doesn't quite fit in the firebox - the back of the 'finished' part of the stove sticks out about an inch from the brick surround.

We wanted to avoid any giant, tacky surround piece (like the big brass or black frame sold by the stove shop), so we've been just waiting for a solution to pop up. We decided to figure something out just before I left, and went to the big box with the idea of finding something metal we could tuck behind the stove and paint black to make it fade away.

Then, Ken happened upon a random piece of someone's roof flashing, in a custom reddish-copper color. We thought it would closely match the brickwork, and we snapped it up (it was marked down from $18 to $5.25, and the woman rang it up for $4.71, so the price was right).

Using the existing lengthwise bend to fit it against the stove back's 'lip', we cut it to size with tin snips...

...and brought in some clamps and wood to make a break for bending the metal to fit in the firebox, but were one piece short & too lazy to go back to the garage, so we used a copy of "Swan's Way" as the final piece of the metal brake. Thanks, Proust!

Though we planned to use liquid nails to tack it to the brick, it 'sticks' just fine with no adhesive so far, so it ended up being a really simple, easy, tidy, quick project.

And, now we won't have escaping pellets falling down behind the stove anymore - finally!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Click: 1929 to 2009

I was buying a vintage item on Etsy for someone for the holidays, and I happened to notice that the seller was also selling this little oddity for $8:

...and, always a sucker for a deal on combined shipping, I nabbed it. It's a Brownie (box camera) Model 2-F, probably from around the late 1920s to early 1930s.

We got it in the mail a couple of weeks ago, got some film, and just started messing with it on the night of the snowstorm. We cleaned it, found the old manual (which is entertaining in itself), then we shot a roll of film. We were kind of just seeing if it worked at all - so we didn't pay much attention to the exposure time or subjects.

Today we walked down to the camera shop to pick up the prints (if it worked at all). We were thrilled to see a huge roll of negatives with things that looked pretty recognizable on it - but the camera shop folks (the best ones in town, so they should know) said they can't develop that size negative - it's like 2x3". Hmmm.

Then we thought, Photoshop can make things look like negatives, so maybe it can make things double negative (=positive). So we scanned in the negatives and messed around with the results.

From inside the dining room, through windows, stained glass panel, and plastic (not bad!)

Just after the snowstorm, the garage.

We actually took the photos 'blind' - all the silver had flaked off the viewfinder mirrors and I didn't want to open it up to replace them with film in; now you can actually see something with new mirrors so the next photos should be better composed! Our scans were not at the best resolution and we can play more with contrast - but it was totally an amazing process:
  • to use a camera with absolutely no electronics, batteries, buttons, beeps, etc.
  • to see the giant negatives (when was the last time you saw film negatives?)
  • to realize the camera worked
  • to take something from 1929 or so, snap a totally mechanical photo, then 'develop' it on a computer in 2009.
I feel like we just came out of a time machine. Weird...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yellow snow

Not really. But we did work on something related to pee and something related to snow this weekend.

First, while I was at Lowe's the other day buying a replacement part for the upstairs toilet, I realized that with only $15.95 I could finally replace the el-cheapo toilet seat that came with the downstairs toilet (2 years+ ago). That gross thing was thin molded plastic and had these little concave areas underneath that were atrocious to clean. Plus the yucky plastic hinges - ew.

So before:

And, 10 minutes later, solid seat with chrome hinges:

I know, it really doesn't look much different. But it is!

Then it snowed. Which is great - we love the snow. So we put up some decorations outside.

Then, as the mudroom descended into a chaotic pile of mittens, boots, and hats, I went on a hunt for a mudroom bench. Someday we'll build one from our stash of oak lumber, but one more winter with a big ol' mess was sounding like a bad option.

So I scouted all the usual haunts - thrift store, online, various horrid big box stores, etc. Found nothing good that was a reasonable price for a somewhat temporary solution. Then, at KMart, I found a Martha Stewart buffet table from the Mission Bungalow collection.
It was on clearance and the dimensions were perfect for a mudroom bench - it was just too tall. So, I lugged it home, we did some measuring, and we immediately set to work destroying it. We cut a foot off each leg, left off the plate rack & second shelf (which goes on the cut-off part of the legs), and voila! A better shot at mudroom organization. Thanks Martha!

p.s., this table seems to actually be wood and is quite solid. So maybe someday it'll be re-purposed into a coffee table or something else.