Monday, April 15, 2013

part 39 of 365

Things that keep Melissa alive

Part 39: The Ugly

Now that I have been a housewife (wife to my house) for a little while, I finally find myself wondering what to do with my time.  Blogging it is!  Today at least.  A week of winter weather in the spring will do that to me.

If you know me well, you know that there are lots of unconventional things that I find beautiful.  This post is not about them.  I have lived in Orem my whole life so I will be the first one to defend its value, but I have to admit, it's kind of an ugly place.  Every other utah valley town has a cute historic downtown area.  Orem doesn't.  It has a city center that was built in the height of the ugly building era (60's-70s?).  Many of its houses were built during that same time, which means they are ugly split-level and split-entry houses.  Seriously.  UGLY.  There are some definitely cute houses in Orem that were built earlier, but it feels like a larger percentage of houses here are the ugly.

There are some uglies that keep me alive, however.  Sometimes, it's an ugly that causes righteous indignation.  Sometimes, it's an ugly that fuels disappointment and sadness.  But, my favorite is ugly that makes me laugh.  Not that I think it's pretty, but more that it's awesome.

Here are samples of those 3 Uglies in Orem.  Those of you that live here, will recognize two of them, sadly.

Remember this?

What is more classy than a cinderblock building with guns and the words "GET SOME" plastered on the front?

And this is my favorite ugly thing right now.

Nature rarely produces true ugly, it seems.  But this tree... I'm not even sure the picture does it justice.  I think it's much worse than the picture.  I've never seen branches that go in completely wrong directions.  I pass this tree often and it makes my day a little better every time I do.  It's so ugly, it makes me happy.

The trees on the rest of the street are either pine trees or these:

It makes me wonder what went wrong with this one.  What tragic past have I not been privy too?  What will it look like with leaves?  Will it just get uglier as it gets older?  These are questions that keep this unemployed housewife going day to day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

part 38 of 365

Things that will no longer keep Melissa alive

Part 38: Farewell, the Twinkie

I know that I am among the millions paying odes to the Twinkie.  Nothing new here, move along.  But, anyone who knows me, knows the important role Twinkies have played in my life.  There are many out there publicly mourning its loss... but I suspect it's not true love for most of them.  For example, I saw a news segment where the reporter interviewed random people asking what they thought about the twinkie factories shutting down.  Every person declared it a sin against humanity.  Then, the reporter offered them a twinkie and 100% of the people said (and I quote): "nah... thanks."

So... if it's true that most of humanity doesn't actually want a twinkie when it comes down to it, then perhaps the factories really should shut down.  Let's face it, they are no good for us.  But they are oh so good for me.  If that reporter had interviewed me, I would have accepted her offer of a twinkie and then taken one more for the road.  I might go so far to say that I will never turn down the offer of a twinkie.  Even if I can't possibly eat it right then, I know I will always want it later.

So, what are twinkies good for, if no one but me actually eats them?  Here are a couple things:

Super Bowl party tray building blocks

In theory, if you just need them for building blocks, you could buy up your stock now and just use them year after year.  They'd just get more and more strong.

Twinkie Weiner Sandwich 

Or as I like to call them: Cheesy twinkie weenies.  Alas, I have yet to try one.  I don't think many people have, but they are an important part of 80's and 90's Weird Al culture. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should question your childhood.

So, we'll miss the thought of the twinkie, but I might be the only one that actually misses eating twinkies.  The twinkie has come to symbolize so much about our society.  Think of the large twinkie-shaped hole that there would be in our culture if it never existed at all. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

part 37 of 365

Things that keep Melissa alive

Part 37: Projects

Ok, the post that I was starting to think might never come to fruition.  Just in case you thought I was all talk and no action, here is my before and after post!  Grab a comfy pillow, because this is one of those long posts that everyone loves.

You can tell from these first 2 pictures that not much of my time these last 2 months has been spent on the projects on the outside of the house.


Basically, I removed the carriages from the shutters and painted them gray. My mom chopped the plants in front. Hopefully it's the change in seasons and not the gray shutters that makes the after almost look worse.  Next spring, I'd like to do something different with the railings and screen door, and paint the front steps something other than red.


Living Room
Sadly, I forgot to take before pictures of the inside of the house before I (and 12 friendly helpers) stripped all the wallpaper throughout the house in one glorious night!  But, here is a before pic from after that exploit.


There was lots of strange wood paneling with an under layer of original wallpaper on the top half that wouldn't come off.  So, I had to texture over all of that before I could paint.  The carpet really wasn't in horrible shape upstairs - it seemed very clean, even if it was old.  But, with original wood floors underneath, how could I leave it?  Also, the carpet was maroon, baby blue, baby pink, and dark blue upstairs, so I ask again: How could I leave it?


My bedroom
This room had wood paneling that the previous owner had taken care to oil every year.  With that knowledge in my back pocket, I knew I needed to do some Kilz-ing if I wanted to avoid the inevitable 4-7 coats of paint it would need.


Me, high on Kilz:


The kitchen had some amazing faux brick paneling on the walls that got stripped during my stripping party.  It also had some dark blue berber that you can imagine I had a hard time parting with.


You can see the brick paneling left lots of fun glue and potholes to deal with so I got to do some extra texturing in the kitchen.

Don't worry, I figured out just after this picture that a knife twice this big helped the texturing go slightly faster.

Painting black and white checks on blue berber carpet is surprisingly time consuming.

That's all the interesting parts.  I finally put my work pants in the wash this morning and so bid farewell to the last little bits of old house dust.  I guess it's time to dust off my exercise shorts and gym pass!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

part 36

Things that keep Melissa alive

Part 36: Grownup-ness

As you know, I have recently purchased a house.  If you didn't know that, please see the post below.  In purchasing a house, I have thrown myself into the world of a grownup.  At first, I was pleasantly working on my house every evening and enjoying the busyness of being a grownup.  You can imagine that wore off pretty fast.  I still look forward to getting the place how I want it, but the path there seems steeper than it did at first.  I know, I know, I brought this upon myself and so I will continue to slug through it.  And, I might as well learn some things while I'm at it.

Here's a sneak peak at my before and after blog post (coming in an unknown future era)

Here are some things I've learned about being in the world of grownups:

  • Everything ends up costing more than the contractor bids.  My original electrical work bid was $1800.  And he said that was including a large buffer for unknowns that might increase the cost.  I ended up paying $2300.
  • If you pay for a wood floor refinishing company to tear out your carpets before the job and haul them away, they will undoubtedly leave said carpets and pad sitting on your driveway until you beg them to come take them away after the job has long been completed.
  • In regards to the previous point: Never ever ever pay for a job that has not been 100% completed.
  • If you leave the vent covers off of your heater vents while you are painting the house, a roll of painter's tape is bound to accidentally bounce in there and be forever lost somewhere in the heart of your furnace. There it will enter your nightmares at least once a week; where your newly purchased and updated house burns to the ground in a mass of melted tape goo.
  • If you have to use Kilz on your walls before you paint, get the unscented!  Being high on Kilz is not nearly as fun as I thought it would be.
  • Once you officially become a grownup and have lots of household expenses and responsibilities, that is when your car will decide to mock your lack of time and money by refusing to pass emissions simply because you haven't driven your car enough on your new battery to pass the codes needed. 3-5 time-wasting trips up to Heber and 4-500 extra dollars should do it.
  • You start thinking that spending hundreds of dollars a day is going to be the norm in your life as a homeowner.  So, when home depot charges you $10 more than they should have on a heater vent cover, you're too lazy to go back and have them fix it.
  • Vent cover sizes as listed on the package do NOT correspond to the size you measured your previous covers to be.  There is no way to know (from the packaging or home depot's shelves) if it will fit your vent.  I think this is the most useful thing I've learned and I pass it on to you. Let me know if you need me to tell you my secret for purchasing the correct size. 
There you have it.  Those are the most important grownup things I've learned in the last 2 weeks.  I didn't think that so many of them would have to do with my home's ventilation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

part 35

Things that keep Melissa alive

Part 35: Downton Shabby

Meet my new boyfriend:

I know, he's quite a bit older than me - not much younger than my own mother, and his turf is on the thinning side.  But, I swear I'm not settling!  I see the potential in him, and like it or not, I will soon be spending much of my valuable free time with him.

I know that I shouldn't start a relationship expecting immediate improvements to the significant other, and I know that it doesn't work out for anybody else, but it's got to work for me!  He really doesn't have much choice in the matter.  Pretty soon, I'll have trained him to be more emotionally open, sensitive to other's needs and take out the garbage without complaint.  This blog might become one of those before and after home improvement blogs, going project by project through the house so that you can experience it first-hand.

The good news is that since I am buying in the fall, I don't feel pressure to fix up the yard much until spring.  I can start immediately on the inside and focus on the many, many ... many needs there for the whole winter season.

So, starting in about a week, you may not see me much.  But if you do, I'll be the one with house dust in my hair and paint under my nails.  Thank you, Downton Shabby, for keeping me alive by putting a roof over my head.  I'll try to return the favor.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

part 34

Things that keep Melissa alive

Part 34: Cranial Sacral Massage

It's time for me to admit it: I'm one of those mystics that you probably roll your eyes at.  I don't blame you, I used to roll my eyes at them too.  Sometimes I still do...for show.  Then I secretly became one and I reluctantly rolled my eyes at myself.  Now, it's time to come out of the closet.

I started having my cousin, who is a massage therapist, do cranial sacral work on me back when my headaches and neck problems started.  I noticed that when she did it, I would go at least a month without any headaches.  Then, they would start coming back and would eventually occur several times a week until I went back to her for a cranial sacral session.  

Yesterday, I went to a massage therapist here in Orem that specializes in cranial sacral.  She didn't have me balance an orchid on my lips so I'm not sure she's really legit.  She gave me a whole hour session (I'm used to a quick 30 min).  During that time, she did things like: Gently hold my feet for approximately 10 min.  Place one hand under my sacrum and hover the other one a few inches above my navel for another 5-10 min.  Press the front of my throat for 5-10 minutes (making me want to swallow lots).  Hover and gently touch many many places all over my head.

When she reached my head area, I began to be acutely worried that she was somehow going to be able to read my thoughts.  I tried not to let too many questioning or judgemental thoughts flow through the portions of my brain that was close to her hands.

After every cranial sacral session, I want to sit up and ask: "how'd it go?".  Because let's face it, I have no idea what is going on and it's not like I feel completely different after.  I usually feel like not much was done.  But yet, I'm a believer.  This time, I actually did ask how it went and she said that my left leg was stuck (not sure what stuck means) for a long time. Thus, the reason she hovered at my feet for so long.  Then she said my left neck area was also stuck and she's not sure which one caused the other to be stuck but that's what usually happens, apparently.  The good news was that she was able to get them unstuck (that was my first follow up question don't worry).

I have much much more I could say about this.  Things I've learned about it, etc.  If you have any questions let me know - you may be the next mystic waiting in the wings!

Monday, April 30, 2012

part 33

Things that keep Melissa alive

Part 33: Other people's junk

I have enjoyed a good thrift store for as long as I can remember.  I think it started when I needed to find cheap jeans to wear to girl's camp.  Enter Savers.  Nothing gets you mentally ready for a dusty, dirty, girl's camp experience like trying on dusty clothes in the Savers dirty changing rooms.  The extra bonus is, if you don't wash the clothes before heading off to camp, you can be ahead of the rest of the girls by already smelling bad when you arrive.  I found this a useful strategy for getting my own corner of the cabin.

The last few years, I will stop by a DI or Savers whenever I see one and walk straight to the section with drinking glasses.  I have been collecting vintage painted glasses for a while and even though my collection is up to around 35-40 glasses, I just can't stop.  I mean, what if one of them breaks?  Or - what if the perfect painted tumbler is waiting for me at Savers right now and I miss it?!

I started feeling silly just looking for one thing every time I went into a thrift store, so I decided to also collect kitchen chairs.  But, it turns out I'm really picky about chairs.  I have only found 3 chairs to add to my collection so far.

Lately, I have also added paintings to my list of items I browse at the thrift store.  As a graduate in Oil Painting, I have become lazy and decided to just start using other people's landscape paintings to paint on top of.  So much less work!  Total thrift store paintings found so far: 1.

Last Saturday morning, my family brought to my attention that I'm forgetting about garage sales!  I suddenly became paranoid about all the good things that were probably sitting out on someone's sidewalk waiting for me right then!  I quickly looked up garage sales on KSL and hopped in the car.  After visiting 4 garage sales that only had old clothes layed out on blankets, I returned home a much more jaded and pessimistic garage-saler.  Why have a garage sale if all you plan to sell are clothes and VHS tapes?  Donate, people!  Part of me is tempted to just give up now and go back to a strict thrift store diet.  But, if there are any seasoned garage-salers out there, give me your tips.  What am I doing wrong?

If you're out garage-sale/thrift store site seeing and find one of these 3 items, let me know!  Help keep Melissa alive.