Home Ownership Chapter 4: I don’t do math, I went to Art School

DIY Home, Home Improvement, Interior Design

I’m a little behind here and I apologize for that. It’s been a busy few months and that doesn’t even touch on my house projects. But I’m back at it and want to keep going on documenting everything I’m doing with my new house.

Bye, bye asbesto! I no longer have ugly, dirty carpet, or tan and brown, cafeteria tile. I have beautiful honey bamboo flooring!

I guess it was back in March (like I said a little behind here) I started the process of ripping up the dirty carpet that was throughout my upstairs. Now, I knew the carpet was dirty- you could see the outline of where the furniture had been, which is honestly fairly normal when you’ve had carpet for so long and furniture in the same place. BUT, I guess when you’ve lived with this carpet for many many years, maybe you forget what it looked like and don’t realize how dirty it is. It’s like the difference between watching a child grow from age 4-6. If you watch them grow everyday, the changes seem small, from day to day you don’t see the differences. But if you see the child at age 4 and then not until age 6, those changes are extreme. I guess over time you don’t realize your carpet completely changes color. So when I was pulling this carpet up, and with it, the threshold pieces for each room, it revealed to me what the carpet looked like when it was first installed and wow, is it crazy. Pictured below is a close up of the awesome (sarcasm) products used in my house. Top: bathroom floor, which I will be living with for at least a year, Bottom: existing, exposed carpet, Middle: untouched, unexposed carpet underneath the bathroom threshold. It used to be WHITE (well pinkish white)! And is now a gross, brown, gray. It felt so nice to pull that up.


So the hardwood. I thought on this product for awhile. I knew I didn’t want laminate but I also didn’t want to spend $6/sq foot. This was actually the first product I found and liked and knew I could afford. But it took me about 2 months to buy it, I just wasn’t sure, I was afraid I’d change my mind on the color. Well naturally by the time I decided to buy it, Home Depot decided not to carry it in stores anymore. So after almost getting it .75 cents cheaper a sq/ft I bought it full price. Which I was planning on paying anyway, but when you think you can get it $300 cheaper, its kind of hard to let go of that.

As much as I like to do things myself and go through the process of learning something new, I don’t do math and laying flooring involves a lot of math. My dad and his two neighbors helped me out and it amazed me how they would yell measurements and terminology to each other and they would just get it right (for the most part). I don’t think they would have appreciated me yelling 13 inches and 5 ticks, on the side with the groove. I went to art school, they don’t even have math class there.

So since I’m not a master floor layer, I’m not going to pretend a tutorial here will help anyone, so here are just some pretty pictures of my new floors.

Below: Bye, bye, dirty, dirty carpet! The boys wanted to toss this out the window to dispose of it, on my tiny narrow street instead of walking it down the stairs. I was a little worried that if they did that there would just be clouds of dirty carpet dusty filling my street. Boys…


Below: 18 boxes of flooring, which after seeing my friend’s stack, I realized is nowhere near a lot.


Below: Pretty honey woodimg_6522

Below: My floors!

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Tip: Splurge on the underlayment, it’s really not even a splurge.

The one thing I did learn, and I’m not calling anyone out here, but I was told that using an underlayment material wasn’t necessary, and while, yes, that might be true for some houses, I don’t think it was good for mine. I have UNBELIEVABLY slanted floors, like legit I have to chop off some furniture legs to make sure things don’t slide off end tables, or position my bed so I don’t roll right off. Because of this I think there are places I could have used a material to even things out. I did notice this halfway through laying the flooring but ya know, too little too late. I was able to stick some in certain places so there wasn’t like a big dip, but you can definitely tell I could have used more. Not to mentioned the flooring against the tile could use a little noise barrier. But like I said, too little, too late and it’s really not too bad. Overall I’m super happy with it, it looks awesome for a pretty great price.


Home Ownership Chapter 3: Not the right kind of exposed ceilings

DIY, DIY Home, Home Improvement, Life

In my last post I told you about the big ticket items I’ve been checking off my list.. I talked about Number 1. Appliances being delivered and 2. Dealing with my “uh oh” with the fridge; Number 3 was the ceilings.

When I bought this house, every room, besides my new studio and the bathrooms, had acoustical tile on the ceiling, which if you don’t know what that is, it looks like popcorn ceiling (yuck) but in tile form; so much easier to get rid of (yay).

Now as awful as it sounds it didn’t occur to me that I could fix this in a semi-easy way, it never crossed my mind to bridge that subject with my personal contractor (Dad). But Lee; and he’ll tell you this didn’t happen but it is all his fault he got sucked into this; he recommended drywalling the ceilings. And once he said it, it was happening. He’s learned over the last 2 months to not express his ideas out loud anymore, sometimes he slips up though.

Originally the plan was to drywall the ceilings directly over the tile to avoid having to take it all down, but for one reason or another most of the rooms ended up having it taken down. The kitchen was first because there were signs of a leak. During the home inspection the inspector said his moisture meter came up dry, but it hadn’t rained in awhile when he took the reading so he said he couldn’t be positive the problem wasn’t still present. My dad didn’t recall this and said it was fine but I said “Chip and Jo would make sure there was no longer a leak, better to make sure now when things are in construction, then after the drywall is up and the ceiling is painted and we have to knock a hole in my new ceiling”. And I really did reference Chip and Jo, to which my dad responded “who?”; gotta work on that one. Naturally Chip and Jo know best.. Leak present. Leak fixed. Then the living room tile came down because my beautiful wrought iron railing that goes right up to the ceiling would make the ceiling uneven and also to make doing the electrical work easier. Then the hallway; well that was an accident, ya know momentum and an over eager neighbor, but a happy one because we realized the upstairs wasn’t insulated and without that the upstairs wouldn’t keep my AC in, which is super important to me. I told my realtor when I was looking at houses that I could have a house without heat, as long as it had AC, or the ability to install AC fairly easily (I know a guy..), I was good.


So over a few weeks those tiles came down and the drywall was ready to go up. I mentioned before, I’m very lucky to have such handy people in my family; handy and very generous. So one weekend in January a bunch of my cousins and a few of my dad’s friends came over to do the drywall. They started at 9:30 Saturday morning; they would have started earlier but I’m seriously concerned my neighbors will kick me off the block because of all the noise I’m making, and mostly wrapped up Sunday afternoon.

It was an interesting experience to say the least. We thought the more people the faster the job would go, but when you have 5 male egos in one room nobody wins.

It was a long few days and all I could really contribute was a tube of lipstick. What..? You didn’t know that was a tool used in drywalling? Me either. Think the toothpaste trick for hanging pictures, something like that.

Once all that was done the next step was the taping. Seems easy right? My dad said he didn’t want to do that so I said you don’t have to, I will, I’ve taped before, I’m actually a very good, very precise taper, if I do say so myself. Well, contrary to what you may think, taping is not putting tape up around the perimeter of the room so that the paint doesn’t get on the wall. Taping is spackling the screws and seams so that the ceiling is smooth for painting, which is not so easy. So once this was explained to me, I found someone to hired to come and do this for me. He spent about a week coming to the house on and off spackling and sanding, and then spackling and sanding and then spackling and sanding some more. He actually tackled some of the wall imperfections too. There are some things in this house that you can tell were properly installed and attentively taken care of and others not so much. Some of my walls weren’t done well from the beginning, you tend to see this often in city houses, so he smoothed out some of the imperfections there as well. He told me he was going to do this but it was alarming when I came to the house in the middle of his time there and saw this site. Must have been one very neglected wall.


In the end, I had smooth ceilings and a room full of white dust. Like everywhere, 2 inch piles in the corners. So much, I left white footprints going out the door instead of coming in. I got gray hair from the clean up; from the dust not the stress. And then my house was prepped for paint. The place looks so different with smooth white ceilings.


A few more big ticket items left and I can started moving things in and really think about a move in date. I do not plan on having everything done before I move in, I’m super anxious so I just can’t wait. The only other thing I will accomplish before moving myself there is the upstairs floors. Right now one room has asbestos tile (not ruined so I will not be pulling this up and the others have gross, old, stained-so-much-you-know-where-their-furniture-was carpet.

So my plan, because this tile so far doesn’t appear to be ruined, which would mean I’d have to go through the insane process of taking it up and disposing of it to prevent exposure, is to install hardwood over it, cheap hardwood but hardwood nonetheless.

Hardwood self-installation post to come. =)

Home Ownership Chapter 2: I want what I want, but its my house so I can have it

DIY, Life

Recap:  I bought a house! Before Christmas I settled on my house, unfortunately, I’m still not living in it. I guess that kind of comes with buying something that needs work. There’s still a lot to do..

Over the past couple weeks, since my last post, I’ve gotten a few things checked off the list. 1. My appliances were delivered. 2. With that, I tackled my first big mistake.. well I came up the the idea for the solution at least. 3. The drywall on the ceilings was put up and spackled.

1. My appliances were delivered- refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave. When the delivery guy came to my door, of course on one of the few snow days we’ve had this year, before even saying hi he just looked at the door and stared at me like, “You think this is going to fit through the door?”. And without any words spoken I replied “I swear it will fit, it’ll be tight but I promise it will fit. The doors need to come off but it will fit.” And then he just stared at me again..

See my front door is smaller than the average; its 28″ wide. Most doors are at least 30″, so when I was looking for a fridge I had very few options but I was able to find a non ugly fridge that would fit. I really didn’t want a top/bottom, I wanted a side by side, double door and the dimensions of this fridge without the door were 27.5″. Fits! Bought! Because fitting through my front door was my only battle..

2. Wrong. It was just the first battle, not the only. See the only placement option for my fridge, which was already determined by the cabinet placement was right next to a wall, which isn’t abnormal but it does have its challenges. So once the delivery guy put the doors back on and left, and I pushed the fridge into position I recognized my 2nd battle and the first big mistake I made. The freezer door only opened 90 degrees, and that was without the handles on it; with the handles, the freezer becomes unusable.


Well now, I could have maybe called up home depot and said I made a mistake, and returned it for a different fridge, one that was a top/bottom and would have worked in that space. But I’m stubborn, and I don’t want that kind of fridge so I put my creative brain to work and thought through my options.

Option 1: Flip the placement of the fridge with the counter space to the right of it; which would put a cabinet between the wall and the fridge but my fridge would then be right next to my gas stove. Turns out thats not recommended. Option 1- Out.

Option 2: Buy a smaller cabinet to add to the left of the fridge, completely remove the other cabinet and add a full height roll out cabinet/pantry in the leftover space. I stuck with this idea for awhile but again, its not recommended to not have counter space between the stove and anything else, the burner is just too close. Option 2-Out.

Option 3: Full on kitchen reno. I did think about it. For a second. Option 3- Out.

Option 4: Buy a smaller cabinet to add to the left of the fridge, completely remove the other cabinet like Option 2 but then create something to give a spacer between the fridge and the stove, like a cabinet with a countertop. Option 4- Winner.

I’m only half way through this solution but so far I went out and bought an Ikea floor to ceiling pantry cabinet and added that to the left hand side of the fridge. My dad created a stand to make it flush with the soffet and reinstalled the above-the-fridge cabinet to be flush with that pantry.

Side note funny story: I guess you could call this my second mistake.. After waiting in line for the cabinet for about 25 minutes, coming home and putting the whole thing together, I realized I bought the wrong size. So the next day I went out a bought another one, the right size this time, so now I have a kitchen pantry upstairs in my studio, which turns out will be a great piece to have.. so that’s why its funny and not annoying.

Please ignore the contraction zone appearance.


Next step is the new right hand cabinet. Post to come, when we actually do it.

The other checklist item- my ceilings. They are still in the works but are coming along awesome. Look out for that post later this week.

Home Ownership Chapter 1: I’m a South Philly Home Owner

DIY, Uncategorized

“Insert quote about life being busy and getting in the way, work draing and consuming my life, etc…” Now that that is out of the way…

But seriously, I’ve been on a little bit of a hiatus, no excuses but life just got busy. And its about to get busier, but this time I’m going to document it. I officially became a home owner last month and well, I took on a little bit of a fixer upper; not a Chip and Jo fixer upper but it needs a little love and care to make it into my home. So that’s why I’m back, I want to be able to look back myself but I also want to share some of my progress with you.


So a little bit of background on my homeownership.. I started looking at houses in Philadelphia over the summer. I must have looked at 50 houses; which to some may seem like nothing and to other might seem like a whole lot. I didn’t limit myself to location so I was all over the place. I saw houses that were recent renos, which some people would have fallen in love with, and I saw some just terrible, terrible places, that if I were in Waco, I may have let Chip and Jo handle for me, but never would have taken on myself. My main goal was I didn’t want a cookie cutter house, and I wanted something with character and charm something that I could make my own without feeling guilty about pulling down brand new cookie cutter tile that was just put up. And that’s when I found my cute little house, with just enough charm but not too much work that my dad would tell me I was on my own. See, I’m lucky enough to have family in all the different trades and a dad, who I still think can do anything.

I put an offer in the week before Thanksgiving and made settlement the week before Christmas, which if you don’t know anything about buying a house, is an incredibly fast closing, especially when you take into account the holidays. I didn’t know a lot myself about the process but I had to learn quickly along the way.

Tip #1 for the new homeowner: Pay for the online home buyer course. BEFORE you even start looking at houses.

With the mortgage I went with, I ended up having to take an online course anyway, and boy, did I wish I had taken it sooner. The course started with looking for a house and covered everything to even after buying it. It was extremely helpful, I just wish I had taken it sooner.

The process from offer to settlement was so extremely long but so extremely short at the same time. I was stressed out one day and then anxious for it to move faster the next. I had some hiccups throughout the process but everything turned out great in the end.

Tip #2: Read the Do’s and Don’ts letter you receive from the mortgage company and don’t make large purchases before you settle. #blackfridaydeal

Tip #3: Try to not schedule your settlement 9am the morning after your company holiday party. #justonemorechildishnight

Regardless of my hiccups, I’m a homeowner; and super excited to see what comes of my cute little house. So stayed tuned for some of the projects I have coming up, there’s a lot.

For now, here are a few before shots, see all the charm..?!?

My livingroom/diningroom with structural archway and awesome wrought iron railing.


My larger than most South Philly homes kitchen. I’ve got big plans for this room. Expect many posts on this one.

I’ve got 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths (very unusual for South Philly).


You’ll notice that super old carpet, which will be coming up and the not so great asbestos tile, which is also under that super old carpet.

And then my half good attempt at a modern bathroom #1 and the love-it-or-hate-it bathroom #2. I hate it.



Super excited about the road ahead but also slightly unsettling when its all laid out.

Stayed tuned for many posts to come, I promise you. There will be many DIY projects in my future.

The Urban Dictionary of Design Slang

Graphic Design, Humor, Interior Design, Life, Photography, Selling Yourself, Typography, Uncategorized

I had a call the other day with a potential client, where I used the words “wordmark” and “logo”. As a designer, we all know that these are 2 different things and we can define each one separately. As a client, not so much. After a short period of time discussing it, he let me know he was currently googling the difference because he didn’t know what I was talking about.

We sometimes assume that others know what we know. Not everything of course because well, we all know how “not smart” some clients are. For example, we all know not to assume that a client knows the difference between an image on their computer screen and an image that can be printed or the difference between a image pulled from facebook verses the original image. See the first and last pictures on “What Not to Say to a Graphic Designer”.

It’s all design speak, right..? And how we see things as designers. Like when you (the client) wants to be trendy *designers across the world shiver*. Trendy is not a good thing; trendy is ‘a dirty word in the design world, referring to a solution that appeals to the short-lasting whims of society. The opposite of timeless.’ We want timeless

And then there are the things that our clients say that they hope is covering up what they really mean. For example, “I showed this to my (insert important person in client’s life) and he/she said…”. Which we all know means “I don’t like the concept, but would rather attribute the criticism to someone else, so you don’t think I’m the one who thinks this is shit.”

We’ve all heard them all… and this person put together a dictionary of them some really funny ones. Its a little lengthy but its definitely a good read if you have some time.

The Urban Dictionary of Design Slang

Prepare Post: Just how messy can I make my kitchen..?

Dinners, Recipes

Last week I posted my shopping list for my crockpot challenge, you can view it as well as the list of meals I’m making. So I went to Giant and bought all those ingredients, brought them home set to work… I put everything out on my table and added all the stuff I already had in my kitchen.

Crockpot 1

That’s a lot of food..

I started with the veggies first.. I cut up all the veggies and set them aside on plates.. the onions, peppers, potatoes and celery.

Although I wanted to make recipes that had as little cooking as possible I did precook the ground meat. You don’t have to, but you will have to add some time to the recipe if you don’t. So that’s what I did next, I browned all the ground meat, except for the meat I used for the meatball stew; that I set aside to make meatballs with.

Next I labeled all the bags, I wrote the meal name on it and also wrote the amount of broth that needed to be added. Some of these recipes call for 2-4 cups of chicken/beef broth, it didn’t make sense to me to add that to the bag that I froze because there was hardly room in the bag for it. I figured it would be just easier to add the broth into the crockpot when I cooked the meal.

One thing to note, however; is that broth only keeps in the fridge for about 7 days after you open it. What you can do though, is freeze it; and the easiest way I’ve found to freeze broth is in ice cube trays. Use the trays and then collect them all in a baggie that stays in the freezer. Measure each cube and you can figure out how many cubes equal a cup, etc, then label the bag with it so you don’t forget.

I took each recipe one at a time. I added the meats to the bags first, then the veggies, the starches (quinoa, rice, potatoes..) and the sauce and seasonings.

One thing you should not do… is assume that the bags will sit up on their own.. It’s not very easy to add all those ingredients to the bags with one hand.. So at one point I noticed with enough ingredients in the bag it kind of sat up itself.. so naturally I walked across the kitchen to check the recipe or something… and when I looked back, I had tomato sauce dripping down my dishwasher.. very close to loosing the entire contents of the bag to the floor.. uhh whoops..

I bagged all the recipes, except for one which I actually just made that day but can easily be frozen as well, and stuck them in the freezer. I probably should have checked my freezer ahead of time because all 5 bags, just about fit in my freezer. I had to do a lot of reorganizing to make everything fit.. good thing I didn’t add that broth…

Stayed tuned for my next posts about how each recipe turned out.

Plan Post: That’s a heck of a grocery list…

Dinners, Recipes

A few weeks ago I posted about my crockpot challenge adventure. I must admit I’m a little behind on posting, but I have actually been completing the challenge, so I’m finally getting to posting about it.

I narrowed my long list of choices down to 4. Then I thought, oh hell… why not 6? Here are the ones I chose (some aren’t from the original list):

  • Beef Stew (not as healthy as I would like but I’ve been dying to make this)
  • Tex Mex Shredded Chicken
  • Turkey Chili
  • Stuffed Pepper Soup
  • Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
  • Chicken, Potato, Quinoa Soup

From there I had to create my shopping list, which is not a easy feat, I might add. What I found easiest, was to copy each recipe into a Word doc and start a new doc for my list. I started with the first recipe and added each ingredient to my blank doc and the amount. Then I went through each recipe and added on the amount if the item was already on my list and added the ingredient if it wasn’t. I know, I know, there’s probably an app out there for that, right? Actually, I have it. But the app also requires you to add each recipe to it’s database and then also specify the amount for each ingredient. Sometimes technology isn’t as easy as copy and paste… No, but seriously it’s a great app for normal grocery shopping.

Originally I was going to go to BJ’s because I thought wholesale would be better but I didn’t actually end up needing an excessive amount of anything in particular so I just went to Giant. I had to use one of those actual sized carts, instead of my usual halfy. You would also think that I would have taken a picture waiting in line too, since I used an actual checkout line instead of my usual self-checkout but I forgot, whoops. You’ll just have to see all the food in my kitchen in my next post.

Here is my shopping list (it’s quite impressive):


  • Onions 5
  • Peppers 3
  • Jalapenos 2
  • Baby Carrots 2lb
  • Sweet Potatoes 2
  • Potatoes 1lb + 4-5 singles
  • Frozen corn 3 c


  • Chicken 6lbs
  • Ground Turkey 4.5lb
  • Beef 2lb roast


  • Quinoa 2 c
  • Rice 1 c


  • Eggs


  • Tomato can diced 75 oz + spicy one
  • Spicy diced tomato
  • Tomato Sauce 23 oz
  • Beef Broth 6 c
  • Chicken Broth 11 c
  • Worcestershire 1tbsp
  • Can Mushrooms 4oz
  • Red wine ¾ c


  • Salt 2tsp
  • Pepper ½ tsp
  • Thyme ½ tsp
  • Garlic 4 tsp
  • Chili powder 7 tsp
  • Parsley ¼ c
  • Basil ½ tsp
  • Oregano ½ tsp
  • Garlic Powder 2 ½ tsp
  • Onion Powder 2 tsp
  • Cumin 2 tsp
  • Red Pepper Flakes ½ tsp
  • Paprika 1 tsp
  • Flour 3/4 c
  • Brown Sugar 1 tbsp
  • Oil

Everything that’s bold are the ingredients I knew I already had in my house (yes, I had 75 oz of diced tomatoes in my kitchen.. don’t ask).

Stay tuned for the actual trip and the mess I made in the kitchen.. No, surprisingly I didn’t make much of a mess at all. Except for when I almost dumped an entire meal on the floor… Hmm, story to follow..

What not to say to a graphic designer…

Gifts, Graphic Design, Humor, Typography

A personal project by zerouno design.

“In all these years (more than 10 now!) I’ve collected, in a series of post-it on my desk, all phrases that customers are saying and we (frustrated designers) hate to hear.” – ZeroUno

ZeroUno Designs

ZeroUno Designs


ZeroUno Designs

ZeroUno Designs


ZeroUno Designs

ZeroUno Designs


ZeroUno Designs

ZeroUno Designs


ZeroUno Designs

ZeroUno Designs


ZeroUno Designs

ZeroUno Designs

Check out the full project here and buy the t-shirts here. =)