Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Farewell For Now

It has been much too long since my last post. Since my last post I moved to a new place with a roommate. My home design has been put on the backburner until I have my own place again. I'm aiming for March 2016. Once I have my own place again the design juices can start flowing again! Thanks for stopping by and please check back later for more updates! 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tunes from the Telly

So it must be true that those who enjoy interior decorating also love to entertain, well, actually I can't remember the last time I invited people over. On the contrary, I do enjoy listening to music louder than my laptop speakers can go. Alas, Spotify now has an app available as a Google Chrome extension... that means I can play Spotify on my TV through Google Chromecast.

If you have no idea what Google Chromecast is lemme tell you it's pretty cool... and cheap!
Google Chromecast is a little stick you can buy at WalmartBest Buy (if you're a have to have it RIGHT now type of person who can't wait for an item to be shipped) or purchased online directly from Google. But hold on, before you buy the stick you must be sure your TV is HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) compatible. HDMI is pretty much standard on all newer TVs (purchased since 2009) but some older TVs have the feature as well. Just look on the sides or back of your TV, if it's not labeled it should look like this....

But note that HDMI ports can sometimes be confused with a USB port, but if you look closely HDMI is a different shape than USB. The Chromecast stick takes electricity so you must either plug it into the USB port or use the A/C adapter and plug it into the wall. Everything is included in the Chromecast package so as long as your TV does have the HDMI capability, you are good to go.

You're probably wondering what this little gadget can do! By using Google Chromecast you can stream Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, ESPN, Youtube or cast any webpage open in the Google Chrome browser to your TV. All features of Google Chromecast are compatible with Apple products. I can turn on my TV and control a number of apps (available from the Google Chrome web store) from my computer, iPad or iPhone. One great feature for college students is being able to watch web documentaries on the TV rather than a laptop.

I was very excited today to learn that Google added a Spotify app to the store because I much prefer Spotify to Pandora and my TV speakers are louder than laptop speakers... so in theory, if I ever broke away from my hermit habits and threw a party, I could play my Spotify playlists on my TV. But it also works well to cast music while I clean or cook or do whatever. If I threw in some surround sound that would take the coolness to a whole new level.... but I don't see surround sound in my near future... so I will leave it at I really like Google Chromecast when taking into account its cost to features ratio.
Photos by C. Scharton

Monday, September 29, 2014

Power of Pledge

In my post No Dust is a Must, I was on a mission to find a better carpet deodorizer and dust repelling furniture polish. I must say I am very satisfied with my choice of furniture polish, Pledge Multi Surface Everyday Cleaner in a spray can. I purchased the Glade Cashmere Woods scent at Walmart. I love the way the spray smells, however, the smell does not linger. It has been about two weeks since I initially dusted and over time a minimal amount of dust accumulated.  
Photo by C. Scharton
So you may be wondering about the carpet deodorizer... well I have yet to find a better alternative than powdered product. I had the grand idea to use a black light to find problem urine areas, so after doing a little research online I found this LED black light, also available in WalMart stores. The package specifically says it can help locate pet stains, and it does. However, there is no telling how old the stains are and the phosphorous, which causes the glow, doesn't seem to go away even after the stain is cleaned. 
Glowing spots = pee spots

Even using the black light as an aid, the best way to pin point the exact spot to be treated is to sniff it out (I used Post-Its to help mark the area). After I figured out most of the glowing spots on my carpet did not smell, I decided to douce the smelly areas with full strength vinegar. In moderation, this method might have been fine, but my apartment reeked of vinegar for 24 hours and my carpet stayed damp for three days, even with a fan blowing on the treated area. But the good news is, my apartment smells significantly better and my carpet is dry on day 4. I finished off the process by using Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh Carpet Odor Eliminator Powder and vacuuming the carpet. Those who are allergic to perfume and dust should stray away from using this particular powder because it does have a strong scent, and as I previously mentioned it aires on the side of messy. But overall my apartment smells much better. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Turn it off, turn it off

Today's title comes from a cheesy song I remember singing in a second grade musical and it went something like this "Turn it off, turn it off! Running water…Turn it off, turn it off! Save the power...Turn it off, turn it off! Running water…" Don't ask me why stuff like this sticks in my head, but it has and while this was a cute song to sing in second grade it's basic message is ringing true as an adult. Since moving back to Kansas I have a hard time understanding my energy bill.  How can the bill for my 900 square foot apartment consistently be higher than the bill for my mother's 1300 square foot (plus a basement) house? Below is a table of my monthly energy bills since I moved in...

Date RangeDaysKWHBill Amt
Feb. 19 - March 17 26 days603$85.68
March 17 - April 1529 days252$42.15
April 15 - May 1429 days386$59.54
May 14 - June 1330 days550$78.04
June 13 - July 1532 days1011$135.11
July 15 - Aug. 1329 days562$80.16
Aug. 13 - Sept. 1230 days881$118.22

As you can see it varies vastly from month to month. I don't have a washer or dryer. I run my dishwasher about 1-2 times per week on the air dry cycle, I keep my thermostat between 75-78 (if I have my air on at all), I don't use my oven but 1-2 times per week and I only have one TV. 

Here is my game plan to see if I can lower my bill

1) Turn the air conditioner off.. and leave it off. Going into the fall months it's really not necessary. 
2) Take a daily reading of my energy meter to watch for trends
3) Check with my neighbors to see how their bills run 
4) Change the six blinding bathroom vanity bulbs from regular 60W bulbs to energy star 40W bulbs
5) Make sure lights are turned off when not home 
6) Keep blinds closed when it is hot out and open when it is cold
7) Take shorter showers (and if that means timing my showers, well I guess I'll start timing my showers)

Being that my apartment is older a large part of the reason my bill is so high could be due to the fact my appliances are older, which is an important fact one should consider when renting. My energy bills being sky high eat up the money I save each month by renting an older apartment. In my 2 years and 3 apartments of rental history, I have never had such high energy bills... even at the peak of summer in South Carolina my electric bills were not this high. I am greatly dreading the coming winter in my new home.  

You can find more helpful energy saving tips from Westar Energy here and from Energy Star here

Monday, September 15, 2014

Glowing Garage Goodies

If you have a chance to raid your parent's garage, license plates can make great home decor... and they are... free! But that depends on where you acquire them, a couple weeks ago I went to NOTO and in one of the shops used license plates were going for $9 a piece. That can add up quickly. Of course, license plate decor is nothing new, but when adding a twist (literally) you can create a unique work of art.

Photo by C. Scharton
If you can't find a variety of license plates, but you have numerous plates of the same style and year you can paint them, cut them (however that might prove to be challenging), bend them - the possibilities are endless. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Crafty Kemon

Awhile back I was visiting one of my friends and  I noticed he had a rather exotic looking trashcan. He took a boring plastic kitchen trashcan and gave it a faux stone finish, it looks really cool in person.

Photo by C. Scharton
He simply spray painted the trashcan with a textured Krylon Natural Stone Finish spray paint and BAM! You have a stone-esque trashcan.
Photo by C. Scharton

And if there are any music loving decorators out there, I came across this amazing compilation of songs featured on NPR. http://www.npr.org/music/allsongs247/ 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

No Dust is a Must

So, it has been a hot minute since my last post. I have been busy galavanting around the country. I went to Georgia and stopped in the Smokey Mountains on the way home, which were beautiful. However,  I brought my dog and Gatlinburg is not an overly dog friendly town, FYI, none of the restaurants I found would let her sit on the patio and Crystelle Creek that http://www.bringfido.com recommended was closed at 9:30 pm. However, Brookside Resort allowed dogs. We had a great room that backed right up to a river!
Brookside Resort Gatlinburg, TN 

Upon returning I have one thing on my agenda and that is getting my apartment clean and ready for school to start! My mom let me borrow her carpet cleaner so I have been busy shampooing the carpets.

In addition to shampooing the carpet I have to vacuum and I, for a while, have used powder carpet deodorizer...it works okay. It leaves my carpet smelling fresh for a few days but in my bag-less vacuum cleaner, it makes a MESS! The dust goes everywhere, clogs the filter, and makes my vacuum cleaner stink! My advice to you is don't mess with powder deodorizer unless you have a vacuum that takes bags and uses new filters not washable ones. 
The plus side to having carpet means there is less noticeable dust on the floor, but I still get dust all over my furniture... and it is dark, so the dust shows. Today I am on a mission to find an alternative carpet deodorizer and some dust resistant furniture polish. Once my apartment is super spiffy I plan to have a full walkthrough of pictures on post on the After Move-In page. :)

Photos by C. Scharton