Artist, Professional Assistant, Lover of all things paper-related

Time for Dirt!

May 31st, 2015 | Posted by rrlang80 in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Time for Dirt!)

I readily admit to not being much of an “outdoors person”. Oh sure, when the weather is nice, I like to open the doors and windows to get a good cross-breeze going, but as for actually spending time outside? Most of the time I’d rather go to a movie. I used to spend a lot of time outside when I was younger, but I suppose I got out of the habit of it as I grew older. Which is one of the reasons I think it’s funny that I’ve been doing more and more outdoor things in the past few years. My allergies end up kicking my butt, so if anyone has stock in Kleenex or Puffs, you’re welcome!

One of the things I wanted to try when I got the house was having my own garden. I have no idea why – I’d never really been interested in gardening before! My parents have always grown tomatoes by the side of their house, but we haven’t had an actual garden in decades, probably. But I decided that in the wide expanse of my back yard, I was going to have a garden. (*Note: My backyard isn’t actually that big. In fact, it’s probably pretty small, compared to most.)

I ended up deciding to do a raised bed garden, especially when I found an easy put-together kit to use. Slide the pieces together, add dirt, and go! The dirt ended up being more than the kit itself, but I wasn’t actually too surprised by that. Dirt can be shockingly expensive! I also added some netting fence around it because I have very pesky rabbits around, and I don’t want everything eaten before it’s even grown!

I planted a few things back at the beginning of May, a couple more about a week after that, and then some seeds today. And so I can both share what I’m doing AND keep track of things for myself, here we go!

garden 1

Left side of garden.

1. Gypsy Peppers. Planted from starter pot May 3. (Harvest in 60 days: July 2.)
2. Japanese Cucumber. Planted from starter pot May 3. (Harvest in 60 days: July 2.)
3. Heartland Tomato. Planted from starter pot ~May 15. (Maturity 68 days: July 22.)
4. Black Krim Heirloom Tomato. Planted from starter pot May 3. (Harvest in 75-85 days: July 17-27.)

garden 2

Right side of garden. The lines are where the seeds have been planted, waiting for sprouts to show!

5. Garlic. Planted from a sprouting grocery store clove May 3.
6. Bean, Bush Blue Lake 47. Planted from seed May 31. (Maturity 58 days: July 28.)
7. Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson. Planted from seed May 31. (Maturity 45 days: July 15.)
8. Carrot – Parisian (Livingston Seed Co). Planted from seed May 31. (Maturity 70-75 days: August 9-14.)
9. Garlic Chives. Split and transplanted from existing plant May 3.
10. Curly Leaf Parsley. Planted from starter pot ~May 15.

We’re still getting some awfully cool/chilly weather, but so far my starter/potted plants are doing really well, it seems, so I hope that my seeds will take soon and give me a good harvest later this summer!

Updates as things grow!

And thus begins another season

March 20th, 2015 | Posted by rrlang80 in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on And thus begins another season)

This will be my third year doing art fairs! It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but the calendar doesn’t like. (At least I don’t think it does. Sneaky calendar!) As I’m lining up my applications, it looks like I’m going to be at a lot of the same fairs as last year, with a few changes. Two of the fairs I did last year (that I’d planned to apply to again this year) will not be happening this year! Sad! But I’m looking at a couple new ones to fill those spots. All in all, I’ll likely be doing right around the same number.

I’ve already been confirmed for two fairs:

  • April 18th (Indoor)
    UW Washington County Festival of Art (University of Wisconsin Washington County, West Bend)

  • July 25th (Outdoor)
    Art at the Mill (Richfield Historical Society, Richfield)

Less than a month until the first fair (indoor, thank goodness, as mid-April will likely still be too chilly to set up outside)! I know these next few weeks will go quickly, and that I’m going to be busy leading up to it. But I hope to see some familiar faces once everything kicks off again, so stop on by!

Smallest Room in the House

January 30th, 2015 | Posted by rrlang80 in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Smallest Room in the House)

Yellow. And black. Plastic. Tiles.
And a shower chair.
That has been used by someone that isn’t you.

Just let that sink in for a second.
Try to picture it in your mind.
No, it’s not gross enough, try again.
Closer, but not quite.
Yes, there. Gross, isn’t it?

Shower Chair

Someone else’s shower-butt was on this chair

That was my bathroom. It was the one room I looked at and immediately thought “oh, this needs to be gutted immediately. There is no way I can possibly deal with any of this.” Oh readers. How silly I can be. Thankfully the shower chair was gone by the time I got the keys (a million thank yous to Realtor Dan for getting rid of it!), but that only made a partial improvement in the room.

The problem, of course, is that gutting any room is a challenge. But gutting a bathroom is an undertaking. It disrupts your entire life. And not only that, but it’s expensive. For such a small room, the cost is (seemingly) disproportionate to the square footage. And frankly, while I didn’t completely clean myself out in the closing costs (I would never be so foolish!), and even though I have a toilet and shower stall in the basement to use as back-up, the money and time and effort for a bathroom gutting was just not in the cards at the present time.

So, as with everything else in the house, it got a cleaning and a painting. A bright, semi-gloss white that had been left behind in the basement by the previous owners was given to all the surfaces that weren’t tiled. And I tossed in a few relatively low-cost extras that made a world of difference.

Bathroom comparison

Step one, two, three.
(Click to enlarge!)

The Shelf Thing

Now I know that plenty of bathrooms have these over-the-toilet sorts of shelving units. They help to expand storage options (of which there aren’t many in this small bathroom area), so I get why it was installed. But. Like everything else in the house, it was sticky and it smelled. And frankly, I didn’t even want to touch it, even with gloves on. Out it went, and good riddance.

Bathroom Shelf

Why was it sticky??

What was funny was that they’d never actually bothered to move the cabinet more than a few inches out from the wall when they painted, so you could see some of the older colors. Like the atrocious mauve color that I’ve tried to re-create below.

Atrocious Color

Your monitor may vary.

The kicker was that I found some of that same color not only behind the heating vent cover, but also on the black trim tile, which means that at one point the bathroom was mauve and black and yellow. Yowza!

The Tile

Okay, so the tile had to stay for the time being. Even though it is yellow. And plastic. There is probably no way to get it off the walls without having to take everything back to the studs. Cue the bleachy bleach of bathroom cleaner (and an open window and a fan!) to get the tiles looking (and feeling) cleaner.

Melted Tiles

Plastic Melts!

Another tricky challenge was the tiles that had gotten cracked, or melted (!!!), or simply fallen off, or that were behind the (GROSS) toothbrush and soap holders that I was planning on removing. And while there were plenty of things left behind by the previous owners, replacement bathroom tiles were not one of them. However! Replacement kitchen tiles were! Now granted, they were white(ish) and not yellow, but at a (brilliant!) suggestion from my dad, and through a very careful endeavor of prying off some whole tiles and rearranging things, I was able to create a patterned line around part of the room, alternating the white and yellow tiles so that it almost looked like it was designed that way on purpose. Which it was, but you know what I mean.

Tiling pattern

Hard at work!
(Photo courtesy of K. Lang)

The Fixtures

Old and dusty and sticky and gross. Yep, that pretty much covers it. The vanity fixture over the medicine cabinet looked like it was supposed to have another cover or decoration of some sort, but we discovered that this entirely utilitarian appearance was the cover. Not to mention that it was equipped with a number of harsh little clear lightbulbs.

Bathroom Fixture

Doesn’t this look like it needs another cover over the one that’s there??

Less than $20 at your local big-box hardware superstore earns you a NEW and IMPROVED fixture that can be outfitted with white globe lightbulbs that help to make a world of difference. It’s bright as heck (especially when I’m a morning zombie), but it’s a million times better.

The other fixture in the room was the combo light/fan over the tub itself. The one that had been there was loud and rickety and filled with dust and smoke and (you guessed it) grossness. It too needed to go, and the new one is clean and quiet and wonderful.

We also swapped out the light switches and outlet, because I really didn’t want to touch the old ones. Even after cleaning.

All electrical work done by my dad! Thanks, Dad!

Finishing Touches

What do you do when the tiles in your bathroom are yellow? Do you try to mask it or pretend they’re a different color? I suppose you could.

Or you can do your best to embrace the fact that you have yellow tile and get one of the craziest shower curtains you can find! Take a guess which direction I went.

Shower Curtain

Pick a color, any color!

It actually helps to tone down the fact that the room is half yellow. I don’t know exactly how it works, but it does. It’s cheerful and graphic and bright, and it helps to tie the room together. Rug on the floor and a shade over the window (recycled from its previous life as a kitchen shade from one of my old apartments!) helps to disguise the dark window trim and lighten the whole thing up even more.

With all of that done, I’m surprisingly okay with the bathroom now. Oh, it still needs to be gutted at some future point time, but I’m able to live with it for now. I would never ever actually put yellow tile in my bathroom (or anywhere), but I think I’ve made the best of a very colorful situation.

A kitchen re-done

January 27th, 2015 | Posted by rrlang80 in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on A kitchen re-done)

When I think kitchen renovation, I think expensive. I think 5 figures worth of expensive, because I watch HGTV, where they habitually gut and completely redo kitchens with the highest of high end finishes. And yes, there are plenty of kitchen renovations that are that expensive. Some of them are worth it, and some (in my opinion) are not. But no matter my opinion on other people’s renovations, I didn’t come into this house expecting to do too much to this kitchen until much later. In my opinion, the bathroom needed far more work with far more urgency than the kitchen.

But then the bathroom ended up not needing quite as much immediate work as I’d thought, and so I started looking at the kitchen. And I thought that there were a few things that could definitely be done to fix the place up a bit. I was lucky enough to get all the appliances with the house, and they’re all decent quality, so after a good cleaning (and removing the ice/water unit from the fridge because EW) they were good to use.

…And then I went a little crazy.

Main wall of kitchen.

Side by side, as best as I could. (Click for a larger view!)

The Cabinets

We figure that the cabinets were not original to the house, and that they were very likely reclaimed from a kitchen renovation at another house. That being said, they are very good quality, oak cabinets.

And I decided to paint them.

Now at this point, I would like to tell everyone who is freaking out to take a deep breath. I promise it’s okay to paint woodwork, be it trim or cabinets or floors or anything else. It’s okay. I promise.

What wasn’t okay was how nasty the cabinets were. There isn’t currently a range hood over the stove, so any and all grease from cooking goes into the air and then falls to settle on things. Cabinets being one of those things. And then people touch them with their grimy fingers, and I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

Cabinet Work in progress

It’s me! And door-less cabinets!
(Photo courtesy of K. Lang)

So before I could even think about painting anything, the doors needed to come off, the drawers needed to come out, the hardware needed to be removed, and everything needed to be cleaned. The doors took a scrubbie, a putty knife, and a HIGH powered degreaser to get even close to clean enough. And yeah, it was enough to take some of the finish off too, but I was alright with that. I didn’t sand anything, and I’m sure there are purists out there that would say that I should have. Maybe so, but there comes a point where you just have to go for it. So I cleaned and I primed and I cursed heatedly when some of the primer came off and I moved them out to the garage to dry in a less humid area and then I painted them with a high-gloss cabinet and trim paint. I did the same thing with the outer faces of the cabinets themselves, with considerably less cursing about humidity affecting primer adhesion.

Priming Cabinets

Work, work, work. If you look closely, you can see the ace bandage I started needing to wear because my wrist was very unhappy with the amount of work I was doing.
(Photo courtesy of K. Lang)

Hinges? A few bucks a piece at any big-box hardware superstore. Multiplied by two for every door and it starts to get pricey. A can of glossy black spraypaint? Free when your dad finds it in your parents’ basement from a previous project. Clean and spraypaint those babies instead of replacing them, and you’ve just saved yourself a good few dollars. Cabinet knobs and drawer pulls were replaced, and ooooh look at that high-contrast hardware. Sexy.


Like everything else in this house, they needed to be cleaned.

Can’t let the back door feel left out, especially when it’s so close to the cabinets. That got the same coat of white paint. Gotta love it.

The Countertop

Did you know that if you have a countertop section that is approximately 8 feet long, you can get a new piece of standard countertop for less than $100 (plus any additional installation costs)? It’s true! Especially when your local big-box hardware superstore is running a sale on it. I have to admit that it surprised me – I expected countertop to be much more expensive. And it is, when the typical HGTV homeowner wants to put in granite or marble or even quartz. But if you’re happy with a standard type of countertop and you’re able to find a design you like, you’re good to go.

Countertop Sample

Formica Beluga Beige. It looks like retro fossils!

What’s funny is that I was aiming for a grey theme in my house, and especially in the kitchen. But there weren’t a lot of grey choices in the line of countertops I was looking at. I was able to find this one that was a little browner than I wanted, but that I thought would work, and then I chose a paint color from there. A few weeks later, at a different store, I found the same design but in a different shade. A much greyer shade. And I shook my angry fist because I’d already ordered the first one from the other store.

Let me just tell how glad I am now to have the first shade. It’s definitely grey enough and goes so beautifully with the paint color, and I love it. I LOVE it.

The Plumbing

If you’re going to replace a countertop, you might as well replace the sink. If you’re replacing the sink, it just makes sense to replace the faucet. If you’re doing all that, why on earth would you keep the old garbage disposal? Might as well replace that too.

The Electrical

Do not try this at home. I doubt this is entirely contractor approved.

Awkward over-the-sink lighting gets turned into a circuit for under-cabinet lighting. Overhead light fixture is replaced with a new one. That step wasn’t quite so easy, as opening up the ceiling to do the switch-out revealed that the insulating covering on the old wires was starting to crumble apart. With the home warranty that came with the house, I was able to call in an electrician who came out and did a little poking around and assured me that I did NOT have a massive electrical problem. Thank god! The wires were re-covered and everyone moved on with their lives. And I got a new fixture!

And under-cabinet lighting. Ooooh.

Undercabinet Lighting

Taken at night so you can see how awesome it looks. LED strips that use so little in the way of energy and give off next to no heat. Also a nice shot of the painted back door.

The Backsplashes

One thing I don’t entirely understand about this house is its love affair with plastic tile. I’ll admit I didn’t even know there was such a thing as plastic tile until I looked at this place, but at some point in the decorating and redecorating process, plastic tile was invited in. The bathroom is the main culprit for it, but there was a fair amount in the kitchen as well – both as a backsplash for the stove and for the entire sink and cabinet wall. And while I’m (temporarily) making it work in the bathroom, the kitchen ended up being another story. Unlike the yellow tile in the bathroom, the kitchen tile was white. At least, it was white at one point in its life. By the time I “inherited” it, especially with the grease and other kitchen substances, it had gone a weird sort of dirty beigey yellow color.

Plastic Backsplash Tile

GROSS. Though, to be fair, the swirls are part of the tile, not some weird dirt/grease pattern. Does that make it better or worse?

I was at the house by myself one night doing one or two other things, and I hadn’t planned on being there very long. But then I pulled at the piece of plastic “caulking” strip between the countertop and the wall, and a few of the tiles came with it. And then there was a putty knife and a hammer and a razor scraper in my hands, and shattered pieces of plastic tile all over the place.

Tile Removal

So gratifying.

It left the wall a little worse for wear though, especially with the junction box for the old light fixture. Here comes bead board to save the day! A few dollars buys you a giant sheet of the stuff that can be cut to size and (along with some plywood backing) attached to the wall. It’s primed and ready to be painted right from the store, but I left it white for a little while because I didn’t know what color I wanted it to be. After a few days of looking at it, I decided that with the cabinets on that wall, it was too much white, and so it got a dose of the wall color. Which is just about perfect, in my opinion.


Painting the beadboard. It blends in with the other walls, but has enough of a textural difference to stand out. It’s a little old-fashioned, but not in a bad way! You also get a good look at my new sink/faucet here.

The stove backsplash was a problem all its own, as when we started taking down the tiles, they did not come off nearly as easily as the tiles on the cabinet wall. I have no idea what sort of adhesive they’d used, but it was hanging on for dear life and was starting to result in big gouges from the wall. We decided it would likely be easier to just cut the whole section of wall and patch in a section of new drywall.

And that was the tentative plan until my mom went “…or we could try painting those too”. Of course, at this point three rows of the tile had already been removed. But! There were extra tiles in the basement! And while they did not match at all (due to the age and kitchen grossness of the ones on the wall), it didn’t matter because they were all getting painted!

I used the same primer and paint as the cabinets, which means the tiles are still shiny, and they tie in nicely with the nearby cabinet wall. The roller that I used gave the paint a neat sort of texture, and while it’s obvious that they’re painted, I really like the look. Oh sure, someday they’ll need to come down and that section of wall will need to be patched, but for now it’s clean and bright and coordinates with the rest of the kitchen. What more could I ask for?

The Paint

You know how I said I chose a paint color based off the countertop I picked out? Look at this color:

Kitchen Paint Swatch

Thank you, Lowes, for this picture.

Look how gorgeous it is. How soft and velvety. How beautifully it contrasts with the painted white woodwork and cabinets. How it helps to warm everything up and tie it all together. Just look at it.

I know you’re jealous. It’s okay. I don’t blame you.

And okay, I totally admit that for a kitchen I should have found a satin or semi-gloss instead of the eggshell I ended up with, and maybe someday I’ll change that, but the color is everything I wanted. It’s a Valspar Historical Trust color called Woodlawn Colonial Gray, and it’s just the right level of warmth and contrast for this room. I was worried about going too dark and making the room feel like a little cave, but the white paint on the cabinets and door and trim helps to lighten it all up.

Decorating and “Other things”

One of the things the previous kitchen had (that I got rid of) was a stubby cabinet pair (upper and lower) across from the stove. I hated it, and it was one of the first things to go. It really opened up the kitchen, but due to my lack of kitchen storage and countertop, I knew I needed to put something there to replace it. I’d been planning on refinishing a buffet type cabinet that had been left behind in the basement, and I’d gotten a start on it in the fall but then stalled on it. Luckily, IKEA came to the rescue, with a shelf just perfect for that space.

Kitchen Shelf from IKEA

I want to say it’s a Bleeberderben, but I’m pretty sure that’s not right.

In the future, if I want, I can put doors on it to make it more of a hutch, but for now I’m very pleased with it as a shelf. Even though it had a flub that I didn’t notice until it was put together and in place, and it required some minor disassembly and another trip to the store to swap that part out.

Kitchen Table

The other side of the kitchen! The weird light patterns are due to the “warped” glass shades on my ceiling fan. My bedroom has the same problem. It shall be remedied soon.

I also needed a kitchen table! And with a little hunting, the table and chairs came courtesy of craigslist and $40! I still need to find at least one more chair, because two isn’t really enough. And between the stove and the fridge (which you can almost see) is a kitchen cart with wheels. It’s where my toaster oven lives.

I’m still in the process (as with all of my rooms) of trying to decide what goes up on the walls. In the kitchen I’m lucky enough to have blinds on the windows, so while I’ve been thinking of adding some valences, the fact that I haven’t been able to decide on fabric for them isn’t a huge deal. The problem is choosing the actual colors I want to go in there. With the gray foundation, I can add just about any other colors, and it’s overwhelming! It’s getting there though. It’s getting there.

Looking back to move forward

December 31st, 2014 | Posted by rrlang80 in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Looking back to move forward)

So it’s almost 2015. “Almost” as in about an hour and a half away. That seems very weird to think about. I know I can’t be the only one that’s finding that weird to think about, right?

I don’t know that it’s the natural progression of time that I find strange so much as my own place within it. There are days when I still feel like I should be in my early- to mid-twenties (I’m NOT, trust me – that’s about a decade ago now), and days when I wish I was still that young. And that’s not so much a time-related weirdness as much as it’s the feeling that I haven’t done as much (so far) with my life as I “should” have, and I find myself wanting that time back as a do-over.

It usually happens when I try to hold myself up to someone else’s measuring stick to judge my own life. I’m sure you know that measuring stick – it’s the one that shows up loud and clear every time you check your Facebook feed. So-and-so is married, this person has a new baby, that girl you knew in grade school (but haven’t actually spoken to since) is working her “dream job” out on the west coast. I have to be in the right mood to go on Facebook in the first place, and as soon as the “measuring stick” starts getting to me, I have to shut it down. Because right now, I have good things going on, and I wouldn’t want them to go away, and I wouldn’t actually want to trade them for a few years of rewind. But with too much comparison to others comes the self-doubt. On those days when I’m wishing for a rewind or a do-over, I have to remind myself that no, now is good. Those are the days when I have to remind myself that:

  • In 2008, I was working at a job that I was starting to hate so much that it was becoming unhealthy for me, and I had a crazy dream about going back to school. Yep, a dream. But I worked to make it a reality, quitting my full-time job and going back to work on getting my degree. (It wasn’t a decision I made lightly or without a whole lot of planning, though. Dreams need actual real-world work in order to be at all feasible.)
  • In 2010, a year earlier than I’d thought (thanks to transfer credits, placement tests, summer classes, and talking to faculty to help to waive certain requirements), I graduated with that degree. And honors. And new friends, knowledge, and direction.
  • In 2011, after working several temporary positions, I found my current job. Full-time, at a company I like, with good people.
  • In 2012, I had surgeries on both my legs, allowing me the opportunity to have less pain in my life. (Now I just need to start using those legs to get me back into the gym again!)
  • In 2013, I started my own business. I set up my home studio and began producing art on a regular basis and got myself out into the world to do exhibits and art fairs. It was something that (through all the years of being a customer/attendee at different fairs) I never actually thought I’d be capable of doing.
  • In 2014, I grew that business, doing even more fairs. I have to double-check my books, but I think I turned an actual profit this year, and it’s only my second year in business.
  • In 2014, I bought my own house.

Sometimes I have to step back and look at that list, and sometimes I have to pretend that it belongs to someone else, just so I can see the successes and accomplishments for what they are. And then I can pull it back around and force myself to see that they belong to me. Each one is something I’ve been able to do (of course with the help of my family and friends), and it doesn’t even show the smaller things – the travel and actual art and friends and the day-to-day successes. I put all of that out there not as another measuring stick, not to have others try to gauge their own progress by mine. Because everyone’s milestones are different, and having something different in no way means you have something less (something I have to remind myself of on a regular basis). I put it out there to add to the celebration of accomplishments that I hope everyone can do with their own lives.

And look! Like I said at the beginning, 2015 is almost here. Look at what we’ve all been doing for the past few years. I know you’ve got something good. And tomorrow, as the year begins, I’ll probably spend some time thinking about the things I want to accomplish in the months to come. Just think of what sorts of crazy awesome things can we do with the next 365 days!

Adult Life Goals – Real Estate Edition

December 6th, 2014 | Posted by rrlang80 in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Adult Life Goals – Real Estate Edition)

Best intentions to update apparently have gone well awry during the second half of this year. But there’s an explanation for that! (There always is, isn’t there? But I mean it this time!)

Home Sweet Home! Look how cute!!!

As most everyone in my personal life knows, I bought a house this summer!!! (Yes, it does require three exclamation points. I’m actually holding back on the excited punctuation.) It had been something I’d been thinking about for a while (pretty much since graduating back in 2010), and I was finally able to get my (mostly financial) ducks in a row and go for it.

It actually started out with me not expecting to get a place quite so fast (once I started looking)! My parents and I had finally talked about it and decided it was time to start looking around at what sort of places were on the market. I’d gone to an open house back in February, to a place that I did NOT like, and the effort had pretty much died there. But June came around and we decided to go out and see a few open houses during a weekend when we didn’t have anything else to do.

There were four going on that Sunday (in my possible price range), but one I wasn’t too sure about. We threw it on the list anyway, and because of the timing and locations, it was the first one we went to (I’m sure you can see where this is going).

Now, I have been an avid viewer of HGTV for years. Years! And I like to think that I’m a pretty logical person (about some things, at least), so I was aware that any house I was looking at (translation: in my price range) was going to need work. That’s just the way it goes. Less expensive = more work. BUT! It also means that if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can really make a place into something personal and really nice.

HGTV viewership aside, nothing quite prepares you for actually going into an open house. Maybe the house will be good! Maybe it will be very very bad. Maybe it’ll be somewhere in the middle. …Maybe it’ll be pretty much everything you’re looking and hoping for, but the smell of the place will be HORRENDOUS.

Maybe it’s that last one that actually happened.

Front door.

Open the door, be greeted by the smell. (Well… not anymore!)

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. If that’s somehow news to you, then I’m not sure where you’ve been hiding for the past few decades. But it’s also not great for things around you, too. Like your house. And when you sit in your house (for years and years) and constantly smoke, it gets into your house. Into the carpet and the walls and the woodwork and everything else, and then it stays. And then when you try to sell your house, everyone opens the front door during your open house and is smacked in the face by that odor. You can’t get rid of it. Not even with plug-in air fresheners. (Side note: The air fresheners just make it worse. Don’t do that.)

It was honestly the very first thing we noticed. You opened the door and it was just THERE. Greeting you. Following you.

Clinging to you.

It was gross. There’s no other way to put it. Gross. Ew ew ew.

And yet.

And yet the house itself was great. A little Cape Cod, built in 1949 when the city was starting to spill outwards after the war. The other houses on the street all look pretty much the same, but not exact cookie-cutters. There are trees and neighbors walking their dogs and flowers in the front yards. It’s a 3 bedroom with a partially finished basement, small but not TOO small, and pretty much exactly the sort of place I was looking for. And (if you could ignore the smell), it was in really good condition. Sure it needed cosmetic updates, and sure there’s some things that will need to be replaced in the near-ish future (windows, doors, siding), but the bones were good bones. Foundation, roof, furnace – all good.

((The realtor was a good guy, too. We hit it off in the first few minutes of me looking at the house, and I’ll admit I spent time talking to him about various odd things as my parents went around to actually look at the house. If you’re in the Milwaukee area and in need of a realtor, let me know and I’ll get you his info. His name is Dan and he helped me get through the process of being a first-time home-buyer with as little pain as possible. And for someone that tends to worry about EVERYTHING, that’s a good deal.))

The problem was that I hadn’t been at the point of actually buying anything! It was just supposed to be a day of checking on current open houses in the area – to see what was out there. So I gave Realtor Dan my info and said I’d be in touch. What I didn’t expect was to hear that same night that there was an offer put in on the house. One I could definitely beat. Or so I thought. Cue a panicked rush to try to get pre-approved. Watch as things popped up that needed to be addressed before I could get that pre-approval. At one point, I decided to step back, figuring that the timing just wasn’t right, and that if it was meant to be, it would have sorted itself out, but that this wasn’t the right time. And then things sorted themselves, everything proved me wrong, and it all fell into place.

The process of finances and bids and offers all seemed to simultaneously rush by and also last forever. My one tip for this process is: it would probably have been easier to have the pre-approval before I stepped into that house the first time. I know you see that on all the house-buying checklists and tip lists that are out there, but it really is true. And had I actually meant to start the process, I would have had that taken care of. But the house snuck up on me! In a good way, I promise, though I had my fair share of stress and sleepless nights where I was convinced this was the worst wrong decision I’d ever made.

But it wasn’t, of course. I closed on August 15th to kick off an already-busy weekend, and then began two full months of renovation before I could even think about moving myself in. Still staying with my parents gave me the luxury of not having to live in the space while we were working, which was a very (VERY) good thing. My parents and/or I were over there nearly every single day for those two months to do the work that needed to be done. Cleaning was the #1 thing, because seriously, everything was SO GROSS. Most everything fell into the categories of smelly or sticky or both. My mom says she now knows why people come in and gut a place and start from scratch – because it’s less work than having to clean it all. And then painting and tearing things out and putting things in… it was a huge job. And one that I could NOT have done on my own.

But oh, we did it! I moved in mid-October and started settling myself into my NEW HOUSE. It still seems surreal most days, like I’m just house-sitting for someone who has very familiar stuff. And of course, there’s still a ton of work (and decorating!) to do. I have nothing on the walls yet, but it’s getting there. Slowly, it’s becoming home. And I love it.

Side door.

Come by again soon!

And of COURSE I have more pictures! But! Since there was so much renovation to do, I’m going to post stuff room by room. I’m going to try to set it up so that it posts on a regular basis for a while, so hold onto your hats!

Selling and Loss (and Gale Force Winds)

July 3rd, 2014 | Posted by rrlang80 in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Selling and Loss (and Gale Force Winds))

What’s that you say? It’s been forever since I updated this blog? AGAIN???

I know, I know. But now that I’m here, I’m going to tell you a story about outdoor art fairs. Gather ’round.

I’ve had three fairs so far this year, and other than the first, they’ve all been outdoors. Which hasn’t been too bad, overall. The first two shows were both on absolutely lovely days: warm (but not too warm), sunny (but nothing that created oppressive heat), and overall pretty darn nice, as far as weather goes. I managed to get a pretty wicked sunburn on one arm at one of the shows, but that’s finally looking like it’s healed. (Wear your sunscreen, kids!) And I have to admit that after two shows of fantastically gorgeous weather, I was starting to get a little cocky. Well, maybe I was getting foolishly hopeful that all my shows this year would be just as lovely. I was hoping.

With shows nearing, the weather forecast always gets watched extra-closely. Ten days out, and even though I know that’s far too early to accurately forecast, I still eye up that 10-day forecast. And with my last show, there was unfortunately some rain in the forecast. I knew that at some point, I was going to have to deal with WEATHER as an outdoor vendor, but… I was hoping.

Surprisingly, my first tussle (literally!) with the weather wasn’t with rain. It was with WIND. Wind so bad that it needs those all-caps. WIND.

Watertown Tent Set-up

The tent! This year I have metal grid panels, which makes displaying my frames a lot nicer! I also have those new canvas print stands to hold all my sleeved art. I feel very professional with this set up, let me tell you!

We (my “road crew” and I) got to the fair site and found a good set-up spot (pick your own! very strange for me). Tent up, panels up, art up, good to go well before the fair opened. It was overcast and there was a breeze, but it was looking to be an okay day. Not too many sales right away, but I try not to let that deter me. I set up my watercolors so I could make new magnets (which is how I spend my time at most shows), and settled in.

And then the WIND started. The sort of wind that makes your entire tent wave back and forth. But let me tell you, I have weights and panels strapped to this tent. I’m good with it being pretty darn sturdy. The “road crew” went to go look at the rest of the fair, and I stayed in my pretty darn sturdy tent and greeted the people going by. But the WIND had other plans. The sorts of plans that include gusts that could probably knock a person over. And even the most sturdy tent isn’t a match for that.

The velcro that I use to strap my panels to each other and to the tent was also not a match for it. And (in slow motion, horrified) I watched as one of those panels came down. And landed face-down on the frames that had been hung on it. And shattered a whole mess of glass. Let me tell you that I’ve heard breaking glass before at the outdoor shows. I’ve seen people lose frames and fragile items (and I’ve only been doing this since last year). And let me also tell you that having it happen to you is a trillion times worse. Especially when you’re on your own for the moment and have no idea what to do.

Shaky hands (thanks adrenalin!) aren’t the most ideal when you need to pull down the front side of your tent to keep people out. Shaky hands aren’t the most ideal when you have to pick up two (large) frames worth of shattered glass from out of the grass. Shaky hands aren’t the most ideal when trying to velcro-strap your panels back together. Thankfully the “road crew” returned at that point and I was able to get things back together, but it was a less than ideal situation.

Sad Empty Space

That sad empty space above the wooden greeting card bin used to hold two frames. I was able to save the actual art from one, but not the other. You can also see some of the bungees I used to hold the frames to the panels against the wind.

And the WIND just got worse. To the point that we roped down and staked what we could and were still standing and holding onto the legs of the tent to try to keep it steady. I even bungee-corded my frames so that they wouldn’t blow up and away and off of my panels. To the point that I had sleeved art blowing away and almost lost a print (that a VERY kind gentleman returned to me, since I hadn’t noticed it blow behind a tree!). To the point that people started to give up and pack up. And to the point that I finally decided to as well.

The highlight of the day came in that I sold two (!!!) framed pieces, one of them to the Watertown Arts Council itself, for inclusion in their Circulating Art Collection! Yes, Murmur is now able to be seen at local business/buildings in the Watertown area, so keep your eyes open if you’re out that way!

Prints showing

That’s “Murmur” in the lower left. Complete with the custom hand-cut mat to go with it.

My next show is coming up fast – July 13th in the Oshkosh area. More details on my Upcoming Dates page. I know I’ll be hoping for some calmer weather! Either way, stop on by (though if it’s WINDy, you may get drafted to hold down a tent leg)!

Updated Calendar!

June 10th, 2014 | Posted by rrlang80 in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Updated Calendar!)

Hello, hello!

A quick post to say thank you to the people that have come out to my first few shows this year! I shouldn’t even say anything because I might jinx it, but my first two outdoor fairs have had some fantastic weather! Though I’m nursing a pretty wicked sunburn on my left arm from this past Sunday. Next week: SUNSCREEN!

I also wanted to note that I’ve added a few more dates to my upcoming calendar!

  • July 13
    Faire on the Green (Paine Art Center and Gardens, Oshkosh)
  • August 16
    Donna Lexa Memorial Art Fair (Glacial Drumlin Trail, Wales)

As always, please check my Upcoming Dates page for more info!

This coming weekend (June 15 – Fathers’ Day!) I’ll be at the Watertown Outdoor Art Festival in Riverside Park. I’m not certain yet where my booth will be located, but please stop on out to see me! I should have at least one new print and (as always!) some new magnets. I also have some rather handsome Fathers’ Day cards. A card and a few magnets would make a great gift for anyone you might be buying for on Fathers’ Day.

See you there!

A New Season

April 2nd, 2014 | Posted by rrlang80 in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on A New Season)

Well even though winter keeps clinging onto us here in Wisconsin (I’m ready for it to make its exit!), it’s time for my season of art fairs to start up again. This will be my second year doing fairs, and I’m hoping that it’ll be even better than last year. I have a few shows already lined up, and I’m working on adding more as the season goes along. They can always be found on my “Upcoming Dates” page, along with links to the fairs’ websites Now that the season has started up again I’ll be doing my best to update the blog as new shows and information is added.

Here’s an overview of what I have so far:

  • April 5th
    UW Washington County Festival of Art (University of Wisconsin Washington County, West Bend)

  • May 24th
    Art on the Walk (Mill Pond Park, Menomonee Falls)

  • June 15th
    Watertown Outdoor Art Fair (Riverside Park Island, Watertown)

  • July 26th
    Art at the Mill (Richfield Historical Society Park, Richfield)

  • August 24th
    AGMF Art at the Park (Mill Pond Park, Menomonee Falls)

  • September 28th
    Horicon Art on the Marsh (Discher Park, Horicon)

As you can see, I have one already this weekend, up in West Bend. It’s a new one for me this year, but it looks to be quite an event, with a bunch of very talented artists! You can see a short video of the organizers talking about it here on one of our local morning shows. I have some new set-up materials for my booth thhis year, and I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.

Come see me on Saturday if you get a chance! I’d love to have people stop by!

Construction Time!

January 28th, 2014 | Posted by rrlang80 in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Construction Time!)

I am currently in the process of moving my domain registration and hosting to a new company, so if you see anything funky going on here, that’s why. I’m hoping to have this all settled in less than a week, but we’ll see how it goes. I will admit to not being the most technically capable with my website skills. But I’ve backed everything up (I think), so hopefully it will be relatively smooth.


Wish me luck! (Fingers crossed!)