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.

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

Adobe Illustrator and why I’m glad I grew up in the computer era..

Graphic Design, Life, Typography

How Adobe Illustrator changed graphic design….

I learned a lot in school about how things used to be done and how difficult and time consuming setting type was, doing comps, etc. All hail the computer!

But everyones doing it…

Dinners, Life, Recipes, Uncategorized

Didn’t your momma always ask you, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too”?

You’re supposed to answer no, by the way…

Well you know what, sometimes following the lead is good. I’m jumping on the crock pot bandwagon.. well, to be clear, I’ve always been on the crockpot bandwagon but I’m going to do the crockpot frozen meal challenge. Actually I think I just made that up, but that’s how all great things start, isn’t it?


I’m going to do a series of posts over the next month or so, starting with this one, which we’ll dub the “Proposal Post” and over the next month I’m going to plan, buy, prepare, cook and (the best part) taste 4 different prepared ahead frozen crockpot meals. Pinterest is my go-to and I’ve found a few recipes I want to try, but if any of my followers want to throw out some suggestions or take votes on the ones I listed below, I’m up for it. Who knows, if I get enough recipes maybe I’ll make more. I’m trying to stick to the healthy side so don’t give me any creamy, cheesy goodness to make, because I might just cave.

Some recipes I’ve found so far that are on my maybe list are;

  • Lemon Chicken
  • Chicken and Spinach
  • Chicken and Sweet Potato stew
  • Pineapple Salsa Chicken
  • Beef and Broccoli
  • BBQ Chicken
  • Chicken Fajitas
  • Tex Mex Shredded Chicken
  • Teriyaki Chicken
  • Meatball stew
  • Sticky BBQ Meatballs
  • Chicken and Rice
  • Italian Chicken
  • Veggie and Beef stew
  • Beef Chili
  • Pulled Pork

So I guess that was more than I was initially going for but I’ll narrow it down and once I figure out all the logistics maybe I’ll bump it up to 6 meals, we’ll see… I’m only cooking for one so I’m hoping one pot will be leftovers for a week. So in the coming weeks you can expect the following posts from me, its a promise;

  • The Proposal Post (that’s this one)
  • The Plan Post (where I tell you all the meals I’m going to make and my shopping list)
  • The Prepare Post (this will be the crazy part where I share my shopping trip, all the food that I know have in my house and the preparing and separating)
  • The Pot 1-? Posts (Recipe and evaluation of meal 1-?)
  • The Post-Pots Posts (the final eval)

Like all my P’s? Let the crockpot challenge begin! Make sure you leave me some suggestions or votes! And maybe I’ll pass on this challenge and make it an actual thing!

Want to be a freelancer?

Graphic Design, Life, Selling Yourself, Typography

I’ve been crazy busy recently so, sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while..

I’ve been doing some freelance work; wedding invitations, websites.. But I also just updated my own website, www.sarapom.com. So go check it out! To go with the freelance theme, check out this infographic on how to make it as a freelancer..

Freelancing Infographic

Powerful Advertising

Graphic Design, Life

The one thing I can seriously appreciate is a seriously dead-on, stop you in your tracks ad. I love coming across ads where all you can say is “Damn, I wish I designed that”. Here are some good ads that do just that..

Ad: Both Sides

“Think of both sides.”

It took me a second to get this one, I think only because the one child’s face I actually found amusing, instead of frightened. I think that could have been executed better but I love the concept behind it.

Ad: Likes

“Liking isn’t help. As a volunteer. Change a life.”

I think this ad is so powerful because its so easy to relate to and the ad just makes you want to crawl into a corner and cry because its so sad.

Ad: Plastic Bags

“Plastic Bags KILL. Keep Our Oceans Clean.”

I really love ads that are interactive, ads that rely on other people to make them happen. I particularly love when people do things with bags like this, I’ve seen another one for a gym with a jump rope. You’re kind of forced to play along.

Ad: Smoking

“The End. If you smoke, statistically your story will end 15% before it should.”

This one was just so cool. I think I liked it so much because it reminds me of when you’re really into a book (Dan Brown books.. very good example) and you get to this really exciting part and then the chapter ends and you have to decide if you should stay up another 20 minutes past your bed time to just end on another cliff hanger. And you’re almost angry, but you’re not, because the book is so good and you love it and you just don’t want it to end but it does and you’re just like WTF?!

Ad Sexual Predators

“Sexual predators can hide in your child’s smartphone.”

This one, honestly, just creeped me out, it’s so weird but you know what… isn’t that kind of the point? We’ll played, designer..


“It’s not happening here. But it is happening now.”

This goes along with my love for interactive ads. I love how its specific to the location the ad is placed at. An in the moment ad that at first you might think is real, you might be walking by and get a glimpse of this kid sitting under the tree with a gun and you literally stop and do a double take before you realize “Hold on, that’s not real”. It’s not happening here. But it is happening now, somewhere..

You can check out some other cool ads here.

Philadelphia Line Map

DIY, Gifts, Graphic Design, Life, Selling Yourself

This has been a long time in the making and it’s taken me a long time to post it out as well..

I love Philadelphia. Everything about it. The sports. The city. The architecture. The arts. The restaurants. The bars. Even the smell. Philly is my favorite city. So over a year ago when I was planning to move out on my own and was deciding how I would decorate a new space, a map of my favorite city seemed like something I definitely needed.

So naturally I went on Etsy, I looked around on Pinterest but I just couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. And then I stopped and thought, “Hold on. I’m a freaking artist, duh!”. So I sat down and made one myself.

It took hours/days/weeks, probably about 300 overlaying GoogleMap screenshots, and I file too large to even think about not to mention those “Oh shit, why did I do it that way. I OBVIOUSLY should have done it THAT way!” moments at the end. But I finally finished it.

Philly Map

And now I’m selling it. I opened myself up a little Etsy shop and it’s yours if you want it. If you’d like to buy my print please hop over to my Shop. But if you’re cool enough to be reading this post right now, I’m offering a Promo Code: BlogPromo, if you enter this at checkout you get $10.00 off! Promo expires July 1, 2014, so don’t wait too long!

Baby Shower Owls

DIY, Gifts, Life

I’m that person who ignores everything you have on your registry and goes out and buys you cute clothes or fun things. Sorry.. but why would I want to buy you a boring car seat or bottles, I know you’ll need them but that’s just no fun for me. I do keep it practical though. And by practical I mean things you will still use but also practical on my end. There are people out there that sell ready made diaper cakes that you can buy online for $70+. Well that takes the fun out of it too! I like to make things like that myself and I also like to share how I do it so you can make it and not spend $70 on $30 worth of materials. So…

Baby Shower Owls

The friend I made these for didn’t know what she was having so I made 2 owls, a green and a yellow but obviously if you do know what they are having you can go pink or blue or whatever you want. You do however, want to get items that go together.

*These are the materials for 1 owl.

What you’ll need:

  • 20 any size diapers
    • Most diapers don’t come in packs of 20, I made 2 owls so I got a pack of 40.. save them for another baby or use them in place of the onesies below..?
    • I don’t recommend newborn size because they grow out of newborn quickly and you’ll be opening the packs and won’t be able to return them. ‘They’ also say not to get anything too far down the road because then the parents have to store them. I went with size 2; but players choice.
  • 1 swaddle blanket
    • Or at least not a blanket that’s too thick.
  • 6 onesies OR 6-8 diapers
    • These will be the eyes. Technically, this can be made of pretty much anything; onsies, blankets, more diapers, burpees, etc. You’ll just need an even number and when rolled should be proportionate to the body. Obviously diapers is the easy choice because you’ll probably have extra but I was trying to get as many different things in this owl as possible.
  • 3 baby washcloths
    • Aim for 2 that are the same color/pattern and an orange or yellow one if you can
  • 1 bib
  • thin/medium thickness ribbon
  • 2 flowers or 2 large/oversized buttons
  • Optional: 2 Pipe cleaners/paper clips
  • Optional: It’s also helpful to have a circular cake pan on hand

What you need to do:

  1. This is the trickiest part: I didn’t use the cake pan when I did it but I did when I was helping a friend build a diaper cake another time and it was helpful. You’ll follow roughly the same steps as I did except you’ll (hopefully) be doing it inside a cake pan. Take 20 diapers in a pile and carefully bend and stagger them so them resemble the picture below.Owl1
  2. Cut a long string of ribbon and, following the natural direction that the diapers flow, (counterclockwise in the picture above) tie the ribbon around the diapers to form a circular ball (picture below). This will be the owl’s body. Hard part it over!Owl2
  3. Take your onesies or diapers or whatever you decided to use for the eyes and roll them into a cylinder.
    • So, I used 6 onesies. Start by laying 3 onesies on top of each other and folding the arms and a little bit of the onsie in. Then roll the 3 onsies from bottom to top and tie together with more ribbon so it doesn’t come apart.
    • If you’re using diapers, start with rolling one diaper into a cylinder, then add another diaper around it. Add diapers until you feel its big enough, I would say between 3-4 diapers per eye should be enough, but use your judgement because I didn’t use diapers. Tie with ribbon.
    • Anything else you use; you can probably just roll up, you want the end result to be a cylinder but also the same thickness as the owl’s body so that when it sits on top it doesn’t hang over the front or back.
  4. Repeat step 3 with the 3 other onesies (or diapers, etc).
  5. Take the yellow or orange washcloth and lay it out. Fold the bottom corner up to the top corner so you have an obtuse triangle. Take the bottom 2 corners and fold them in so the tips are touching. This is your beak. Lay it aside for a second, we’ll use it in the next step.
  6. Tie the 2 eyes together by threading ribbon through the each roll of onesies/diapers. Lie the beak (washcloth) on top of the body so that the last pointy end hangs over the front. Then tie each eye to the body by threading ribbon through each eye and then the body. You’ll end up with ribbon connecting Eye 1 to Eye 2, Eye 1 to Body and Eye 2 to Body and a beak sticking out in the middle.
  7. Fasten the bib around the center and under the beak so it hangs in front of the body diaper circle.
  8. Take one of the remaining washcloths and lay it out flat, like a diamond. The ears will be flimsy unless you use the pipe cleaners, but that’s up to you. If you’re using the pipe cleaner lay it flat starting at the center of the diamond pointing down. Fold the top corner down to the bottom corner (the pipe cleaner will be touching the crease) so you have another obtuse triangle. Take the top right corner and fold it down to the bottom corner, do the same with the top left corner; you should have another diamond. Take the right corner and fold it into the center, do the same with the left corner; they should touch at the center. Fold the top corner down to the bottom corner and adjust the piper cleaner so it sits at a 90 degree angle.
  9. Stick either end of the ear into the folds of one of the eyes and adjust so it sticks up right.
  10. Repeat steps 8 & 9 with the remaining washcloth.
  11. Lay the blanket out and fold it so it is no longer than 2 1/2′ and 6″ wide. This will be your wings. Lay the blanket over top of the diapers so the wings hang evenly to each side. Take another string of ribbon and start by placing it under the bid and tie it around the back, securing the blanket to the owl.
  12. I was really looking for large oversized buttons, but I bought fake flowers and cut the steams off for the eyes.
    • If you go the flower route leave about 2 inches on the steam so you can stick it through the middle of the onesies/diapers. My flowers were a little big so you should look for flowers that are about 2″ wide.
    • If you go the button route you can thread it with the ribbon similar to how we tied the diaper rolls together.

And that’s it. Here are my finished products.. As usually, I altered my directions above to account for the things I would do differently next time.



Stay tuned for my next baby shower gift idea coming soon (can’t post yet because the shower hasn’t happened and I don’t want to ruin the surprise)!