Please take my money

Attended a beautiful farmers market last week in Chicago’s Daley Plaza and bought a bunch of great stuff that we grilled that night on our patio. The array of vegetables and other treats available at this market was impressive.

Only a few of the merchants accepted credit or debit cards, though, which means we couldn’t give our money to a lot of earnest farmers who had such excellent produce for sale. Lucky for us, there were some earnest farmers with equally excellent produce who also lived in the 21st century and were able to take our money for their goods. Commerce!

Yes, the merchants who didn’t accept plastic avoided a small transaction fee, but they also avoided an entire sale (and judging by the number of people using credit or debit cards at this market, they avoided a lot of sales).

For people who are more visual, here’s a chart illustrating the percentage of money we spent at merchants who accepted our cards compared with merchants who didn’t.

One hundred percent of the money we spent at the Daley Plaza farmers market went to merchants who accepted credit/debit cards. Merchants who accepted cash only (or checks!) earned zero of our dollars.

One hundred percent of the money we spent at the Daley Plaza farmers market went to merchants who accepted credit/debit cards. Merchants who accepted cash only (or checks!) earned zero of our dollars.

This topic has come up before, of course, with Kimball’s Peak Three Theater in downtown Colorado Springs. A few years ago, a theater rep snidely told us and the Colorado Springs Independent that “cash is king.” But it looks like cash has been dethroned, since Kimball’s now takes credit cards. Welcome to the future, Kimball’s!

IndustrialEx Colorado Springs Powder Coating

Ok, I said that the powder room post was the last home improvement post. But I forgot I wanted to tell you about IndustrialEx in Colorado Springs (there’s also one in Denver).

We had some vintage metal cabinets in our kitchen and wanted to fix them up and reuse them in our renovation. There is lots of info online about how to deal with old metal cabinets, from stripping and painting them yourself, to taking them to an auto body place to be painted, to powder coating.

I was more familiar with powder coating than with any of the other options, so even tho some people said that the blasting they need to do to strip them (the metal has to be completely bare, raw metal for powder coating to work unlike other kinds of coating) might warp or dent the metal, we decided to try it. IndustrialEx used a gentle material in the blasting process (bead blasting?) and we did not have any problem with warping. We did have a few small dings in the metal, but I’m not sure if that was from the blasting or if they were there before. Later someone told me that we should have looked at them once they were stripped and had the dings filled and repaired before the powder coating. I don’t know if they really could have done that, tho because the repair material would have also had to be metal. But the dings weren’t huge and we were selling the house so I just ignored them.

There are lots of powder coating colors and several different finishes, we chose a simple white in a semi-gloss finish. If we were staying in the house I would have picked something fun like red in a high gloss finish. But with powder coating, since it’s baked on, it’s permanent, it can’t be blasted off or removed or re-powder coated (altho it can probably be painted), so we figured white was pretty safe.

There are some good pages online discussing what powder coating is and how it’s done. Check out the ehow article and the wikipedia.

We had to take the cabinets out and take all the hardware off (including the little rubber wheels on the drawers, which we were very careful not to misplace!) before the powder coating, then put everything back on after.

Beauty Queen vintage metal cabinets before stripping and powder coating

Beauty Queen vintage metal cabinets before stripping and powder coating

Vintage Beauty Queen cabinets after stripping and powder coating.

Vintage Beauty Queen cabinets after stripping and powder coating.

Powder coating coats every surface, making the cabinets look brand new.

Powder coating coats every surface, making the cabinets look brand new.

We were so happy with how the cabinets turned out that we took all our heater vents to be done, too.

Heater vents with multiple coats of paint before stripping and powder coating.

Heater vents with multiple coats of paint before stripping and powder coating.

Heater vents after stripping and powder coating.

Heater vents after stripping and powder coating.

We were really happy with the powder coating and are looking around for more stuff to do it to!

Gus the Porch Cat

So last Halloween my 17-year-old black cat, Luna, died. I went to San Jose, where she was living, to take care of her before deciding she had to be put to sleep. While I was gone, Mike noticed a cat (or two?) hanging around under our porch at night. It was starting to get cold, and the cat was always around when he’d come home from work at 11 pm, so of course, he started feeding it. It was hard to see because if it saw us it ran away in a flash. Eventually we set a trap to catch it because we wanted to know its status (pregnant? stray? feral?). We went to the Humane Society and borrowed a trap and easily caught it. As it turns out, it was a neutered feral, so we let it go. Around the same time, we noticed another cat (or were there two all along?). This one was smaller and grey, but would also hang around the porch at night, wanting to be fed. Now it was around Christmas and really cold so we made a bed on the porch with a box and a heating pad and continued to put food out. We still weren’t totally sure how many cats there were or what was going on. Eventually the little grey one became slightly more friendly. One day in February we saw him lounging on the porch out in the open.

The first real sighting of the porch cat

The first real sighting of the porch cat.

But when we’d go out there he would run away really fast! He was still super skittish.

Skittish porch cat

Skittish porch cat.

By now we noticed there were actually three cats. The original feral we caught and released, another scary-looking feral, and this cat, who didn’t seem feral, but also didn’t really seem tame. We started calling them names of characters from the TV show “Breaking Bad,” which we are kind-of obsessed with. The original cat was Jesse, the new mean-looking one was Tuco, and this one was Gustavo Fring.

Eventually he stopped running away when he saw us through the window, but still scurried off if we went outside.

Porch cat in his makeshift porch bed

Porch cat in his makeshift porch bed.

Every now and then we could open the door a little and he’d stay put.

Porch cat is not sure.

Porch cat is not sure.

One day he climbed up and looked in the window. Cookie Puss was there and it was love at first sight. It was like the angels were singing and hearts and flowers were going up in the air.

Gus and Cookie Puss, love at first sight.

Porch cat and Cookie Puss, love at first sight.

After that, porch cat decided it was probably OK to come in the house from time to time, especially if there was catnip available.

Catnip!

Catnip!

 

This cat likes to play. Probably not a feral.

This cat likes to play. Probably not a feral.

So, he was friendlier now. But we were so busy with the job search, the house fix-up, the plans to move, etc. Plus we still had PJ, who was not a fan of porch cat. So he hung around all winter, using the bed and eating whatever food we gave him and coming inside every now and then for a few minutes at a time.

In early March, PJ died. The day after he died, porch cat somehow climbed up on the back-side of the roof, walked up and over the top of the roof and around to the front and appeared in the bedroom window. How he knew it was our bedroom is a bit of a mystery. I woke up at like 6 a.m. to meowing, which was really disorienting because PJ used to always wake me up at 6 a.m. meowing. I looked up and saw this.

Porch cat on the roof

Porch cat on the roof

It was really, really strange because he’d never done that before and he seemed suddenly super interested in coming inside. But we didn’t let him because we had no idea what we were going to be doing over the next few months, where we were going to live, etc. We didn’t want two cats and we didn’t want to be responsible for another cat who may or may not have any medical problems. Still, we fed him and generally looked out for him, while trying to figure out if he was a stray, had people, or what.

In Mid-March my brother and my mom came out to help us with some final house projects. It was oddly warm that week so we hung out on the porch all the time, in the morning, during the day and into the evening.

Porch cat was really friendly now, hanging with us when we were outside! But he went back to not being interested in coming in the house, which was fine because we weren’t sure we wanted him to.

Porch cat hanging with Bri

Porch cat hanging with Bri

One day in late March I opened the door to the newly renovated dressing room and saw porch cat sleeping on the chair. I had accidentally left the window open and I guess he climbed up onto the roof and went inside. It was cold and sort of snowy again so I let him stay, keeping the window open so he could come and go, but not letting him go into the rest of the house. Every time I looked in there, he was still there. Eventually I put his food and water in there and added a litter box. The next day he was still there. The food had been eaten but the box hadn’t been used. I thought that was strange, but eventually figured out that he had been coming and going thru the window and up and down the roof to do his business. Poor kitty didn’t understand the litter box.

Apparently this cat wanted to live with us. We had been feeding him and he had been sleeping on our porch every night for like four or five months. We were pretty sure he didn’t have people. But where did he come from? Maybe someone from the big apartment building left him behind. There’s a lot of turnover there and people don’t always take their pets with them when they move. Or maybe he was a reincarnated ghost.

We took him to the vet and he was in good health. The vet said he was probably about three years old and already neutered (no chip). We think he’s probably a little younger, though, because he is far too playful for the elderly age of three. Anyway, we got him some shots and wondered what we’d do with him. Before the vet trip we had tried to find him a home with neighbors. No one really wanted to take him so we thought we might keep him if he got along with Cookie Puss. Aside from that first time in the window, they hadn’t had much contact. We intended to introduce them slowly, but I guess they had other ideas. When we got back from the vet Cookie Puss was on the bed. Gus jumped up there, and the rest is history. They are best buddies, it’s crazy!

Gus and Cookie Puss, together at last.

Gus and Cookie Puss, together at last.

 

So now Gus is no longer called Porch Cat, and he’s been with us through all our adventures: Road-tripping to L.A. and Yellowstone and back. And he’s getting used to Chicago life in a small apartment. Sure he doesn’t get to roam the way he used to, but he’s warm and well-fed, and he seems pretty happy. Welcome to the family, Gus.

Spare bedroom: office and dressing room swap and renovation

When we first moved into our 1911 Colorado Springs Craftsman, we used one of the upstairs bedrooms as a dressing room. I have a glamour photography business and like having a dedicated room for the girls to get dressed and their hair and makeup done. But since we were going to sell the house we wanted to have a more mainstream floor plan and that meant using the bedroom we used for a dressing room to be an office instead. Luckily there was a small covered porch off the bedroom that would work perfectly as a little dressing room.

The smallest bedroom was pretty cute as a dressing room.

The smallest bedroom was pretty cute as a dressing room.

But when I didn't have any photo shoots, it became a messy place for random items.

But when I didn't have any photo shoots, it became a messy place for random items.

So we took everything out, patched, painted, stripped the hardware, and changed the outlet covers from off white to white.

So we took everything out, patched, painted, stripped the hardware, and changed the outlet covers from off white to white.

We used Benjamin Moore Old Prairie for the walls and Benjamin Moore Cotton Balls on the trim.

We used Benjamin Moore Old Prairie for the walls and Benjamin Moore Cotton Balls on the trim.

The view from the new office room.

The view from the new office room.

The office "after".

The office "after".

Lots of houses in Colorado Springs have small covered porches off the largest bedroom. They were for TB patients who came to Colorado Springs seeking “the cure” which consisted of, among other things, lots of fresh air. Some of the porches were open at first and covered later. Some were always covered but with lots of windows, which we think was the case with ours.

The small covered porch off the bedroom would make a nice dressing room.

The small covered porch off the bedroom would make a nice dressing room.

The small covered porch needed a lot of work before it could be used as a dressing room.

The small covered porch needed a lot of work before it could be used as a dressing room.

We nicknamed this the "door to nowhere" and had some trouble getting financing because of it. It originally went out to an uncovered porch- our neighbor's is still intact.

We nicknamed this the "door to nowhere" and had some trouble getting financing because of it. It originally went out to an uncovered porch- our neighbor's is still intact. Some drywall solved the problem.

It was also really cold in there in the winter, so we did our best to close up all the gaps and holes. Mike got to use his favorite thing, spray foam, for this task.

It was also really cold in there in the winter, so we did our best to close up all the gaps and holes. Mike got to use his favorite thing, spray foam, for this task.

This was the only light in the room, and it had no electrical outlets, so we got an adapter for the fixture that had a couple of outlets on it. You have to have the light turned on to use the outlets, but since I only really needed the outlet for a hair dryer, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

And paint. It needed a LOT of paint.

And paint. It needed a LOT of paint.

It took days to prep, prime, patch, paint and caulk this room.

It took days to prep, prime, patch, paint and caulk this room.

I loved the original red floor, but it needed to be repainted and we didn't want to spend any more money, so we just did it in the white (Benjamin Moore Cotton Balls). I was planning to use a rug anyway, which covered most of the floor.

I loved the original red floor, but it needed to be repainted and we didn't want to spend any more money, so we just did it in the white (Benjamin Moore Cotton Balls). I was planning to use a rug anyway, which covered most of the floor.

I cut up the pink curtains from the other room and used them in here.

Covered porch dressing room "after".

Covered porch dressing room "after".

Dressing room "after".

Dressing room "after".

Simple dining room renovation

When we first moved in to our 1911 house in Colorado Springs, we used the dining room as the office. I like having my computer downstairs near the kitchen and laundry room. Plus our living room was big enough to have our dining table in it. But when we decided to sell the house we thought we should have a more conventional floor plan, so we moved the office upstairs and used the dining room as a real dining room.

This room just needed patching, painting, and hardware stripping.

Before and after. Looks like the former owners started to strip the trim but gave up. Stripping paint is a huge undertaking and this wood just wasn't that nice, so not worth it.

Before and after. Looks like the former owners started to strip the trim but gave up. Stripping paint is a huge undertaking and this wood just wasn't that nice, so not worth it. Plus the white trim (Benjamin Moore Cotton Balls) looks really nice against the Benjamin Moore Grey Owl on the walls.

Another view of the dining room "after".

Another view of the dining room "after".

There was no overhead light so we finally got this fun lamp at Habitat For Humanity ReStore for six bucks!

There was no overhead light so we finally got this fun lamp at Habitat For Humanity ReStore for six bucks! It had a gold chain so we spray painted it black.

We were really happy with how this room came out. Much better as a dining room than an office!

Edit: I just saw this lamp for sale online. LOL.