There are lots of little quirks about our condo and here is one of them. All the interior doors are like this. They don't latch and turn like normal doors. They push and pull. Odd, but that is how all the hardware works. The upstairs master bath door is a tight fit and guests get stuck in there. And the knobs do turn but nothing happens so people think there is something wrong. Someone suggested putting the word PULL by the knob. We were recently in Milwaukee in a junkque store in the 3rd Ward. I had picked out some letters and told the owner what I was trying to do. While I continued to shop they hunted for more letters and recreated the word. I added the asterisk as a graphic element.

So if people can't figure this out now well they will just have to stay where they are.

I am quite pleased with the end result with has kind of a '50s-'60s typographic feel. And I got all this typographic goodness for $2. What a steal.

i hate it that i have a messy desk...

If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, Of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?Albert Einstein.

I hate it that I have a messy desk, I have always had a messy desk. I want a tidy desk, I crave a tidy desk but for some reason I rarely manage it. This picture may be the cleanest my desk has ever been.

Here is an interesting article by Jennifer Williamson...

It takes time to organize. Some experts have suggested that the time it takes you to organize your desk can be more productively spent doing your job-and that organization doesn't save you a large amount of time to begin with. Disorganized people often claim that they know where everything is, and this is often true-and if you're well organized but the paper you need is across the office in your filing cabinet, it may take you just as long to get your hands on it as it would if it were under a pile on your desk.

Everything's in front of you. People with messy desks may actually be less prone to procrastination. That's because your papers are all in front of you, not filed away in a filing cabinet where they'll be easy to forget. Your desk may be messy, but at least you can see at a glance what needs to get done.

Searching through the piles helps you make connections. When you have to go digging through your papers to find something on a messy desk, you can dig up all sorts of things-projects you've been putting off, old ideas you've been thinking about, and even other projects and information that fit with what you're working on now. If your desk were organized, your projects would never "mix" like this-and you may miss out on some important connections.

Organization is a form of procrastination. You can spend hours every day organizing things instead of getting real work done. With a messy desk, you naturally organize your work in a way that reflects how your mind works. When your desk is messy, you may actually be more efficient and effective than if you're organized.

Creative thinkers are messy. Creative thinkers tend to have messy desks. In January 2006, a study of hundreds of CEO's indicated that the highest scorers in innovation and risk-taking scored lowest on organizational and neatness skills. Creative people organize their desks intuitively to correspond with the way their minds organize information, and studies suggest that people with messy desks have great career potential.

I do agree with Jennifer... but I still want a clean desk. It's probably never going to happen.

christmas decorating...

In the grand move of 2008 I pared down my Christmas decorations from 10+ tubs to 3. It is an odd collection of this and that. Quirky or sentimental, as it should be.

I tried to find an aluminum vintage tree but am now happy with the newer lime tinsel tree, pared with a black, gray, cream and lime rug.

These are a new addition this year. Since you can't really put lights on a tinsel tree and we needed some lights we got these IKEA ones for over the deck doors. If you want some make sure you buy the waterfall ones as they also have string ones and I think they are both named the same. So look at the picture. $15 per set and I used 2.

Two trees, the top one my Mom made from old rhinestone jewelry 50+ years ago. The bottom one I did probably 20 years ago.

Some red plastic IKEA ornaments on the Charlie Brown stick tree.

And we decorated the bush outside. First with 4 dozen of the red plastic orangey-red ornaments from IKEA. Then with many strands of mismatch lights. It really is quite delightful.

project 4 done!

This was our front door. A 70s turquoise... the first Winter cold air came in around it. And then the wood on the bottom started to splinter. We were telling Ellie our next door neighbor that we also needed to get a new front door. To our surprise and delight she mentioned that she had a door original to our condo. And we could have it.

It even had our numbers on it. But it was 70s orange. So this became my Summer project. I sanded the orange more than likely lead paint. This door was orange on both sides but we were very pleased to get it. It is really heavy and solid. They had to reinforce the door frame before they put it in. I learned to use wood epoxy and to paint without creating too much of a mess.

And then Scott our fav contractor chiseled out for the old lock, and door handle (which had been on the old door backwards), put in a peep hole and a door ringer. Not a door bell but a door ringer to match the other 2 condos. Unfortunately people don't seem to know that they need to ring the bell. Seems obvious to me. This last weekend we were home and my brother and niece cut the lovely vinyl numbers for me. Nice that I didn't have to mask and paint the numbers myself. I did have to crawl up a 12 foot ladder to get to where they cut their vinyl. But that is another story.

John has taken out the fireplace and patched the hole in the roof, the hole in my closet and the hole in the ceiling of the living room. Next year the fireplace will be our outdoor fire pit. Next we need some storage solutions from IKEA and then we are going to get the finished basement room made into a cozy TV room...

And then we will be snug as a bug in a rug...

(Thanks again to Ellie for the door and Bill and Kc for the vinyl numbers. I couldn't have done it without all  your help.)

project 3 done... whew...

Washing your clothes at home is I've found a luxury. We generally don't buy the top of the line appliances but we always buy solid mid-range ones with the idea that the last house gets the Cadillac of appliances. We left all our nice appliances with our house assuming we would move into a new condo building and would get to pick all new lovely appliances. We then got this condo that I had been stalking for 20 years (but had never been in). It has the worst appliances ever. The appliances are really old and disgusting or newer and as cheap as possible.

I wear a a lot of black, OK almost all black in knits or natural fabrics. Since washing here immediately my clothes look like they were dragged behind a car down a country road then rolled in cat hair. I know you think I am exaggerating... OK maybe, but just a little.

And then the washer died(!) So that started the process of buying new (and the sticker shock of what appliances cost, especially the really nice ones) and deciding to put them on the second floor tearing out an existing linen closet.

Nothing is easy here... we want full size appliances but our only stairs are a circular staircase. So the washer and dryer had to be hoisted up and over the front balcony.

Yes that is the balcony...

As I said nothing is easy here...

Minus one linen closet...

But we gained a second floor washer & dryer! I am beside myself with the luxury of no longer taking laundry down 23 circular stairs. And they are SO quiet and the washer uses so little water and they come out almost dry. Oh and my clothes look so nice. That mysterious hairiness is gone.

Anyone need a dryer? This is one of the newish, cheapish appliances. It has a little bit of rust on it though. How that happened I have no idea...

Almost ready for Winter... still need a new font door and the fireplace is coming out.... both of those are happening today.

If anyone needs some work done I can recommend Scott from Mascott Bros. E me for his info. He has many skills and gets the job done. He worked on the condo for the previous owner and put in the sump pump, 2 big second floor sliding glass doors and rebuilt both balconies. And he is a nice guy too.

(And thanks again Ellie for letting us wash at your house. You saved us from months at the laundromat!)

diy project 2... done!

This what what the area behind our front door looked like before we bought. A 70s style Chicago brick planter. Heavy, dated, wasted space and frankly ugly.

Then it looked even worse. One day John just decided to just tear out the bricks. And then he patched the wall and painted...

and yesterday he built this little table!!! And I am very excited. I love this new look.

The tabletop is a piece of white formica that we had cut to fit the space. This was a special order thru Menards and it cost $60. The legs are from IKEA. You can buy individual legs and tabletops there. I got the legs when we were leaving Eau Claire as I knew I would someday use them somewhere. The legs are gray metal which looks nice with the wall color. If I remember correctly legs are maybe $10-$12 each depending on the style.

The wall was not square and the table fits both under the half wall ledge and behind the door frame so there was a bit of finagling to get the table in place. But it looks fabulous and now we have a little catch all spot for outgoing mail and things that are leaving the house.

(Thank you John for all your hard work on this project!)

project 1... done!

We had a row of 13 windows high up just under the roof line... these are in the stairwell above the circular staircase.

These were in our master bathroom.

And these were in the half bath in our bedroom. These are original to the condo which was built in the early 70s and 2 of the sets were leaking in bad storms depending on the direction of the wind and rain. The windows were stained as the seal is broken and water has gotten in between the panes.

And here are the new and improved, white, big windows! It really lets in more light and the dark brown is gone. Project one is done, only three more to go. I guess we better get going...

And while John was outside with a chainsaw taking a tree down I saw this heron on the neighbor's dock. Amazing.

customer service... dead or alive?

We are in the throes of 4 home improvement projects. So we need stuff from stores to make that happen. I forgot how much I hate to shop for washers, dryers, counter top-type stuff.

First I end up in stores I don’t like. Looking at things I need but do want to spend my money on. So it is even more important that these stores are nice to me. And do what they say.

After many phone calls doing some washer/dryer comparison shopping we headed out to Menards. They had a $300 store credit if we bought there. The snag is that we need to have it delivered and hoisted over a second floor balcony. No outside the box thinking there. The young woman just kept repeating that they will send only one guy. We kept explaining that it will take 3 guys. Long story short WE could call their other store that has a big truck and see if they would do this for us. But they would also only send one guy and we’d have to pay an additional delivery charge. So we would need to provide 2 additional guys, more than likely on Menards random time table. Like I have 2 big guys here just hanging around waiting to move heavy objects.

We also picked up our special order small piece of white counter top. When putting it in the car John noticed that the edge was chipped. This was after we had to call and see if it was in, no email to let us know it was there, as promised.

They did say they were sorry but it felt like we’re sorry plz leave now so we don’t have too see that you are unhappy.

Now the night before we go to a store I do like... the Apple Store. A place where I actually like to spend money. John had a computer issue with corrupt fonts that I could not figure out and he was having an iPhone problem. Not only were both problems fixed by friendly, smart, pleasant people who  kept apologizing to me that I was having to wait a short time but they replaced John’s new ear buds that HE broke. For free, with a smile. None of this cost a penny.

All the way home we talked about how great the whole experience was and by replacing the $29 ear buds we love them even more. That is why Apple has a cult following...

And last night after our Menards experience we chatted about how we are so not going to buy the washer/dryer there, in fact we will not buy anything there. And because they will not make the delivery easy they will lose out on a $1000+ sale. The worst part is that it appears that they don’t care and won’t even notice.

Oh yes... this was after we were on hold so long with Best Buy that we eliminated them from the possible list. If they can't even talk to you I think we know what kind of customer service they have.