Pinning and Pining

Our bathroom is a whopping 28 ft².  Inside this teeny-tiny space is a bathtub, pedestal sink, toilet and hamper.  The bathtub is your standard hard-to-clean 100-year-old model.  One could say that we have a double sink, except that it’s actually double faucets.  :/  It’s a basin faucet with separate spigots for hot and cold water.  If Necessity were the mother of Invention, I can’t figure out why she would have given birth to this.  Necessity must have liked to customize her own warm water for every splash.

We have an old school tankless toilet that one might find in an actual old school.  I like that it never clogs.  I don’t like how the valve leaks though.  We’re waiting to hear back from the handyman who came by on Saturday to survey the damage but then never returned…

Despite its small size, this bathroom must have been a real beaut in its heyday.  There are white subway tiles on the walls, penny tiles on the floor and a white carrera marble threshold.

In spite of its small size, we have managed to make it work.  Storage, however, is a big issue.  There is a teeny-tiny medicine cabinet for the presumably teeny-tiny medicines people took back in the day.  We inherited an étagère made of MDF from the former tenant that worked well before the days of leak.  Apparently, MDF and water aren’t friends.

With a little boost from the Pinterest Challenge, I set out to find a more water-friendly solution.

It seemed that chrome was the way to go.  Pottery Barn had a really nice one found via Pinterest but at $549, that was never gonna happen.  Scouring of the interwebs yielded a pretty comparable one for $88.  But, it was still too much.

Target had a similar one on clearance for $15.  However, it only had two shelves and we needed that third for more storage.  I hemmed and hawed and finally, eureka!

Given the large amount of clearance between the bottom shelf and the top of the toilet, I was able to transfer the shorter bottom legs to the top and added another shelf.  Voila!  I’m pretty proud of my $529 savings.  :)

Burial at Box

I finally had to give up any hope of resuscitating our beloved kaffir lime leaf tree.  She will be missed…

In anticipation of Spring, new life has sprung throughout our home.

My sister picked up two fiddle leaf fig trees for us which I’ve replanted in the old stomping grounds of our kaffir lime leaf and bird’s eye chili trees.  The fig trees were a whopping $10 for both from Sprouts Farmers Market.

Aren’t they purdy?

They are my new obsession and hopefully, one day, they’ll grow up big and strong and take over our apartment like they did in this place in Elle Decor:

Life has also sprung up in our window boxes in the form of chives, Thai basil and Italian parsley mingling with luscious Persian Buttercups from Lowes.

On the south side, we have rosemary, sweet basil and thyme, from Home Depot, flanked by generic “color plants” from the good ol’  99¢ Only Store.   I wonder what color they’ll actually be…

These window boxes have traveled with me far and wide throughout the last decade.  I have had them since my second apartment  in Downtown San Diego, which happened to be two doors down from my very first <200 sq. ft. apartment.   Yep, <200 sq. ft. comprised of one room with a coat closet and a bathroom.

The best times were had in that tiny apartment.  I managed to squeeze a queen bed, padded storage chest (which doubled as the guest bed), desk and buffet cabinet into the one room.

I even had a roommate.

This guy:

Who incessantly did this:

Kashmir is his name and yelling is his game-o.  :/

The 3.2 cu. ft. mini-fridge and the buffet cabinet, with rice cooker and hot plate on top and dinnerware, silverware and pantry inside, worked in tandem as the “kitchen.”  I hosted dinners and cooked real meals in my Barbie kitchen.  The folding coffee table doubled as the dining table.  Grossly, dishes had to be done in the bathroom sink.

The 17″ monitor worked triple shifts as the computer display, Nintendo Wii Sports display and television display from the computer’s analog tv tuner.  And when that wasn’t enough, the same Simpsons, Season 7 DVD set was projected on the walls.  Every day, the two windows above the bed and storage bench welcomed the unwelcome aroma of Asian Fusion from the restaurant below.  The view from the two windows would have made any mason proud.

My poor mother cried when she saw the apartment for the first time, asking what was so horrible at home that I would pay to live here?  The comforts of home were no match for that first priceless taste of independence.

The second apartment was two doors down in the front of the building and three times the size – a staggering 600 sq. ft.  Moving day was just me and Kashmir walking back and forth down the hallway with our stuff.

We’re moving on up, Mr. Jefferson!


I have been here in the good ol’ Midwest for almost a month now where there has been plenty of time to miss home and ponder the things I’d like to finish when I get back.

The Bathroom:  Our bathroom is so old that it was literally falling apart.  The ceiling sagged, there were huge cracks in the wall and the drywall in the shower crumbled.

I peeled off the thick, old layers of navy blue, sparkly gold, tan and various whites off the walls and filled in the holes and cracks as best I could, using about a gallon of spackle.  Everything was then sanded and Kilzed.  I painted the ceiling generic contractor white.  The rest of the walls were painted with “custom” gray that I mixed from a pint I found in the Home Depot bargain bin and a gallon of white.  After taping off the ceiling border, I painted the top half of the bathroom grey.  The bottom half is white subway tile.  It came out really nicely except that when I went to remove the tape, it took off some of the ceiling paint.  Crappy.  There’s also a little bit of gray paint splatter I have to clean up off the tile.  And it’s been that way since then…

The Kitchen Floor:  While Husfriend was away last year on what we’re now calling his walkabout spending the winter alone in the snowy Midwest, I had the brilliant idea to spruce up the kitchen floor on the same day I was supposed to pick him up from the airport.  It started innocently enough with tearing up a small corner of  linoleum tile that had started to come up.  Curiosity got the best of me and next thing I knew, I was moving appliances and was buried in easily several hundred pounds of nearly 100-year-old flooring.  There was gray linoleum, commercial flooring, black and white checkered tiles, and lots of crud holding it all together atop some pretty nice hardwoods that was covered in hardened glue.

This is how it all began:
Then it got a little worse:

I hauled about 10 of these boxes downstairs to the dumpster:

It remained that way for several weeks while I recovered from all the lonesome heavy lifting.  I guess when you’re running off of DIY adrenaline, you don’t realize the toll that schlepping 3-4 hundred pounds of flooring will do to your body.  

I finally gave in and rented a commercial sander.  “Gave in” simply because I figured I could purchase a hand sander and do the whole thing myself.  Given my dangling DIY track record, Husfriend wouldn’t allow it.  The commercial sander was no walk in the park either.  Imagine squatting with a 40-lb electrical baby between your legs that you have to keep from cutting you and from touching the floor too much so as to not grind a big hole into it.  Fun times.  Being the Frugal Fran that I am, I figured I could get it done in one Friday afternoon and not have to pay for additional rental days.  Six hours later, I had to call it a day.  I finished the next day but ended up having to keep it until Monday when the shop opened up again.  Damn.

And that’s the way it’s remained since.  Raw hardwood…

The Laundry Room:  We scored an amazing deal from one of my favorite stores – Craigslist.  :)  We got a full-size LG washer and dryer in one for 75% off retail delivered right to our door.  Gotta love that Craig.  Now, Walter the Washer needs a home.  So far, he’s been crashing in the kitchen.  Husfriend doesn’t mind, but I do.  Walter’s nice but too big for such a small space.  Most one-bedroom apartments don’t come with their own laundry room so Walter’s moving into the front hallway walk-in closet.  He’s ventless and can’t see so the closet shouldn’t be a problem.  However, we’ve got two slight issues – Walter’s just a little too fat for the entrance and there’s no water source.  When I get home, I’m going to have to jam the jamb so he fits and convert Walter into a portable unit so that he can connect to the kitchen faucet the way Dorothy the Dishwasher* does when she’s at work.  Dorothy lives in that same closet now.  I don’t think she’ll mind a new roommate.

In case you’re wondering how we’re able to do all this as renters, let’s just say we have a very lackadaisical landlord.  The funny thing is, the only thing in the lease that is to remain once we leave are the crusty blinds (which I have since already replaced).  We also plan to stay in this apartment for a very long time.  It’s on a beautiful tree-lined street in the middle of Los Angeles.  Who knew those existed?  :)

*There’s a cute story about bringing Dorothy home that I’ll share later.