Friday, June 24, 2011

Of Table and Penga Flaws

So we bought a dining table, which makes the house feel more like a home and less like a sock-sliding skate park for Sak.
But the table arrived with a bit of scratching on the top.

So what? Send it back and get a replacement, right?

It's embarrassing to admit, but I have a series of insane, irrational phobias. Enough to fill a few posts, I'm sure.  One of the most crippling is my fear of talking to strangers on the phone. Especially to customer service strangers.

No one likes talking to customer service, I know - but I will do a whole lot of silly things to avoid picking up the phone. Just the thought of having to call someone makes my stomach churn. And I cry after talking to service reps. At least 50% of the time. It's ridiculous. I'm not even a crier.

It started in college, with Charter, our ISP at the time.  They messed up my bill, and after I called them, they refused to change it. I was being double-billed, I think. The person's tone on the phone made me feel like I was in the wrong, which of course kick-started my "injustice" meter. It was upsetting, and multiple calls weren't getting me anywhere. Sak thinks it's because of my voice - I don't have a mean voice, and I cave to super-politeness and allow people step on me when cornered.

In the end, my roommate called pretending to be me, and what do you know, the problem was solved.  She was firm, loud, and convincing. My sanity saver!

We had (and continue to have) similar problems now that we've moved. AT&T has done a number of unsightly things to my account, forcing me to buy a modem I didn't need, charging me for service I didn't even get, and sneaking upgrades into my phone bill so I'd have to pay more.  Plus the $100 rebate for said unnecessary modem never came.  I've called four times, cried after each one, and even cried during one call out of frustration with a lady that once again demeaningly insinuated that it was my fault that there were errors in my bills. Though the double billing was eventually corrected, I still lost over $100 when all I wanted to do was move my existing service to my new house.

I don't begrudge the people on the other end of the phone - I did receptionist work for a short while myself, and cringed internally every time the phone would ring. I'm sure they don't mean to make my life miserable. But I hate the system. Many times I will actually write out, word for word, what I want to say on the phone before I make a call. Because I will blank out from fear and forget. I don't even really like talking to friends on the phone, it's awkward and I never know how to end a call without being rude.

Give me a face to face meeting.  Give me email or other electronic communication. I'll be more than fine.  But phones? I am a complete wuss. A pansy pushover. A doormat.

Anyway, you can see where this is going. I didn't call for a table replacement. I'm keeping it, scratch and all. 
I bought a Minwax stick to try and make it less noticeable though.

You just rub the wax into the scratch, and wipe it off with a cloth.

You can still see it, but if you didn't know to look for the flaw, you wouldn't notice.  Good enough, and if a scratch is the price I pay for not picking up the phone, it's a deal to me.

How do you deal with customer service reps? Squeaky wheel, killing with kindness?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Operation Ivy

(No, not the ska band!)

We have a lot of ivy growing in our backyard.
Exhibit A: Ivy Wall
I don't like ivy.  There's a lot of it at my parents house, and the crazy plant ran wild and effectively killed two fully mature palm trees. Now it's a giant blob of death, and at least one opossum makes it's home there.

So I wanted it gone.  Sak, not being that interested in maintaining the rapidly growing vine, agreed. And we began to pull.

And rip it off the wood on the other side.

It took forever, as it turned out to be more ivy and less fence than we thought.

Who knew that the ivy would be load bearing? The fence started to fall over.

And the ivy really damaged the wood fence, too.

I panicked slightly - this would not be the quick, "clean off and paint" job that I thought it would be.  The whole fence would need to be replaced.

Penga-Dad, upset that I would degrade my property value so soon after ownership, and right before our house-warming party, of all times - came up to save us from ourselves. He bought us a chainsaw (I'm still scared of it), and took the rotten fence down in five minutes.

We cleaned the ivy out as best as we could.

But there's no way we will ever truly be rid of it.  The roots are deep, and extend down in the rocks and concrete!

And really, why are the fence post holes crooked?!

Penga-Dad thinks it's better without a fence. It really opens the place up, and allows you to sit on the upper patio and see the whole yard.

Maybe! I might still like a short, cute border fence or something.  But first I'll have to do something about those uneven post holes.

What's your take on ivy? Pretty foliage, or lethal green force?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grown-up Bed Upgrades

In addition to our new headboard (tutorial here and here), I also upgraded a few other pieces of our bedroom for the make-over.

As a refresher, here's the before:

Really, there are so many different colors going on. My bed was red, as you can see from the pillow cases and the red comforter.  Sak had a twin bed in blue, which is where the blue pillow case came from.  I changed out the red sheets since the queen pockets weren't deep enough to cover the pillow-top mattress, so the green sheets are king sized.  Originally the sheets were all in the olive green color, but I didn't like how slippery the microfiber was so I changed the fitted sheet to a dark green jersey sheet instead. 

My Star Wars pillow was given to me as my 7th grade summer camp comfort item - and though I change the pillow form out every couple of years, the pillowcase is to me as the blue blanket is to Linus.  So grown up, I know.
*Hugs tightly*
First up, I dug up the rest of the pillow cases that the duvet came with.  I covered one pillow with the embroidered pillow case...

...and bought some huge 25" x 25" pillows from Ross for the big square cases.  The big pillows were $9.99 each, which was much cheaper than the $30 plain ones I was thinking of getting from Joann's (even with the 50% off coupon).  Plus they are already patterned, so if I ever want to change to blue and brown colors, I'll be all set!

Second, I bought a simple white sheet set in a queen sized made with deep pockets (also from Ross, for $23.99. If you can't tell I buy nearly everything there).  It fits so much better than the normal queen sheets, and are much neater looking than the king sheets! I put our everyday pillows in the white cases so we don't snag/mess up the pretty embroidered ones.

I can already see my mom rolling her eyes at me though - white sheets?! For slobs that eat in bed? Or get bloody noses? It will spell disaster.

But that's what bleach is for, eh? (I say this even though I hate the smell of bleach and don't own any.) I really like our new sheets so far - they make me feel like I'm on vacation in a hotel or something! 

Anyway, I kept the red comforter not because it matches, but because it is always freezing cold and we would die without it.  Since you can't see it anyway, I think this is totally okay.

Of course, our bed doesn't always look like "a store display", as Sak stated, eyebrow raised.  It typically looks like this:

Sak is a single-super-flat pillow only type of guy, while I oscillate between three different types of pillows.  Normal fluffy pillow, contoured memory foam pillow, and soul-comforting Star Wars pillow. I'm sure this says something about the type of people we are, but I am not trained in the arts of pillow-analyzing.

As for the rest of furniture, we have mini MALM nightstands on either side of the bed now.  

Retailing $50 from IKEA, we got the first one from the IKEA clearance section for $30 (it was a retired display model), and the second one from Craigslist for $20.  The lamp (a Target model) came from Goodwill for $7, and all the books are from the library, where you can see we are reading fluff again instead of literary veggies. Well, I guess sci-fi fluff sounds funny, so pulp fiction?

Anyway, I'm really happy with the way it turned out.  True, it's a little "vanilla" compared to the normal things I like, but I'll still get to save the fun bedding for when guests come over!
Star Wars, Pokemon, and Hamtaro! Gotta love it.
I'm going to stick to the design idea that a bedroom should be a calming, relaxing place. I'll save the visual zoo for the other rooms of the house.

Now if only I could finish the other three walls of this room...

What kind of mood does your bedroom have? And what does your type of pillow say about you?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

San Mateo County Fair 2011

One thing I love about summer is the county fair. I don't play the games or ride the rides - but I do eat the food.

That's reason enough to go to the fair, right?
Though, I totally would have "rode" this. How awesome are floating hamster balls in water?!
After work, we headed over to the San Mateo fairgrounds for a few hours.  Penga-Sis tagged along as well, while her ride, Penga-Bro, stayed at the house to do some homework.
First we checked out the concert.  San Mateo is well known for booking good acts for the fair, and they are all free with fair admission. The hands-down best was getting to see Weird Al a few years ago.  The man is pure genius, and ending with the never-ending Albuquerque song is something I won't forget anytime soon.

Anyway, this particular day was Tower of Power.  We stayed for a few songs, but a slightly intoxicated guy next to us decided his dancing was a bit too hot for the room and was removing his clothing. Time to go!

We checked out the youth arts exhibits, where Penga-Sis, on more than one occasion, looked at the blue ribbon winners and said, "I can do that". Good. You probably can, now go do it! That's the start of the DIY fever, after all. Maybe next year she can enter her own county fair.
These "BBQ" cupcakes were awesome!
Then! Then we found the animals. My favorite part of the fair, after the food - of course.  The bunnies, every breed imaginable, were utterly adorable. Penga-Sis and I were cooing and gooing over each and every cage - from the monster-truck sized bunnies to the itty-bitty dwarfs.
This guy was my favorite! So squishy and cute!
Sak, on the other hand, was busy doing his Arrested Development dances over by the chicken cages.  Far removed from us, thank goodness.
Prize winner.
And next, the reason I came to the fair in the first place, we ate a funnel cake! Funnel cakes are just fried swirls of happy memories for me. You just can't eat one without smiling the whole time.
Wandering over to the flower/plant submissions next, I never knew there was a category for Ikebana! So cool.

Purple garlic and artichokes! 
And there was a special contest for crafts made from recycled materials.  This one is amazing, and I want one, only with Pop-tart bags.

After flowers, Penga-Sis and I found our central coast soul-food: fried artichokes.

Needless to say, I got sick from all the fried food that night, but it was still worth it!

Lastly, we found the art hall, where there was a special exhibit for Alcatraz going on.  I've been to Alcatraz twice - it's awesome, even if it is for tourists. When Penga-Sis stops being a chicken, I'll take her to visit someday too.

Glum, because someone thought the toilet was real and left a surprise.
Though I would have liked a bit more time at the fair (we had work the next day), it was worth going on a weekday since it wasn't so crowded. 

Did you, or will you attend your county fair this year?  What's your favorite fair-staple?

Monday, June 20, 2011

DIY Paint Spray Silhouette Art

Or, one could also call it an artistic take on "Who's that Pokemon".
But really, this project can is fun, quick, and can be done with any image, not just Pokemon! So don't run away just because I used the "P" word. :)

Since Penga-Sis was over, I broke out some paint, foam brushes, and leftover canvas from the wedding.

We printed out some pictures of Pokemon we liked - which was really hard.  A lot of Pokmon have less-than-interesting silhouettes.  For example, my favorite Pokemon (ever! Of all time!) is psyduck.  He's a duck that always has a headache.
But his profile isn't very fun.  Instead, I chose a magikarp, while Penga-Sis went with a charmander.

We cut them out and lightly taped them to the canvas.

The fun part is next - just flick your paint across the canvas!

Cover your image well to ensure a good silhouette!
To flick the paint, grab the plastic part inside the foam brush, pull it back and release!
Once the paint is maybe half-dry, gently pull the paper image off, and let it dry completely.

Since the first set came out well, we tried a second time with bidoof and gengar!

Bidoof was a bad idea on my part. It's silhouette isn't the greatest.

Penga-Sis' gengar - however, turned out fabulous!

Anyway, this was a really fun project! I think I'll eventually hang my two grey ones up in the house someplace.  It's understated enough, right? Not too "in-your-face" otaku? Sak says I have to keep things subtle so we don't scare visitors away.

Which Pokemon do you think has a great silhouette?