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.

Stylish powder room renovation

This really wasn’t a “renovation”. It was just paint. Since we had used non controversial paint colors in the rest of the house, I wanted to do something unexpected in the little powder room. I was on a purple jag for awhile so thought this eggplant color would be nice. I’m glad we did it in such a tiny room because it was a pain in the butt. Dark colors usually are, so we chose the higher end Benjamin Moore Aura paint in Bonne Nuit (and the trim was Benjamin Moore Cotton Balls). It probably worked better than some cheapo paint would have, but it still took several coats. Anyhow, it came out nice!

Powder room before and after. Benjamin Moore Aura Bonne Nuit

Powder room before and after. The paint is Benjamin Moore Aura Bonne Nuit.

The entry, stairs, and upstairs hallway- what a mess!

Our 1911 Craftsman house in Colorado Springs was in pretty good shape when we bought it but one of the problems it had was wallpaper in every room that had been painted over. Normally this doesn’t really bother me (Mike can’t stand it). However, in some places the wallpaper was starting to come off the wall and looked terrible. If we were going to stay in the house we eventually would have stripped it all off. But that’s a major undertaking and not one we had the time and energy to do. In all the other rooms we scraped off the really bad parts and just patched over it then painted, which worked fine. But the stairway was another thing. We included the downstairs entry, the stairs, and the upstairs hallway in the same project because they were all connected so we needed to paint them all the same color, even though we did them all at different times. We knew we were not going to be able to do a great job on painting the stairway with it’s high high ceiling, so we chose a color that matched what was already there so that if it came out messy it wouldn’t show as bad. The color that matched the best happened to be one we had already used in the office, Old Prairie from Benjamin Moore. The trim is Benjamin Moore Cotton Balls. The light “fixture” is original, and they even sell new ones just like it for vintage homes, so we kept it.

The stair landing, before on the left and after on the right. If you look closely you can see the wallpaper had started to pucker and come off the wall in the corner. Also, the walls and the trim had all been painted the same beige color in semi-gloss paint. We removed the wallpaper, which I'll get into in a minute, and painted the walls and trim different colors.

The stair landing, before on the left and after on the right. If you look closely you can see the wallpaper had started to pucker and come off the wall in the corner. Also, the walls and the trim had all been painted the same beige color in semi-gloss paint. We removed the wallpaper, which I'll get into in a minute, and painted the walls and trim different colors.

The upstairs hallway wallpaper was missing in some spots, revealing this kind of original horsehair plaster (which I liked!) or was peeling off. We removed as much as we could, patched, primed, and painted.

The upstairs hallway wallpaper was missing in some spots, revealing this kind of original horsehair plaster (which I liked!) or was peeling off. We removed as much as we could, patched, primed, and painted.

 

An artistic shot of the original horsehair plaster wall.

An artistic shot of the original horsehair plaster wall.

This wall made a great backdrop for my photography.

This wall made a great backdrop for my photography.

This wall made a great backdrop for my photography.

This wall made a great backdrop for my photography.

One night, after a couple of drinks, we started picking at the stairway wall and were excited to see this neat old Titanic era wallpaper. So we continued picking and peeling till it was no longer fun. It stayed in this state for months.

One night, after a couple of drinks, we started picking at the stairway wall and were excited to see this neat old Titanic era wallpaper. So we continued picking and peeling till it was no longer fun. It stayed in this state for months.

Original 1911 wallpaper.

Original 1911 wallpaper.

We had lots of ideas for this wall,. but when we decided to sell the house, we sadly, decided it needed to just be a normal painted wall.

We had lots of ideas for this wall,. but when we decided to sell the house, we sadly, decided it needed to just be a normal painted wall.

We had hoped a skim coat and some paint would do it, but nope. Bruse the drywall guy to the rescue. He got up on his scaffold and removed all the wallpaper for us! Then he let us borrow the scaffolding so Mike could paint.

We had hoped a skim coat and some paint would do it, but nope. Bruce the drywall guy to the rescue. He got up on his scaffold and removed all the wallpaper for us! Then he let us borrow the scaffolding so Mike could paint.

We painted everything, including the trim, and considered it done. It was good that we used the same color that was already there (we even went so far as to use semi-gloss paint on one of the really bad walls) because it matched perfectly.

We painted everything, including the trim, and considered it done. It was good that we used the same color that was already there (we even went so far as to use semi-gloss paint on one of the really bad walls) because it matched perfectly.