Assembling the kitchen 

Hi friends!

Since my last check in, I’ve painted 2/3s of the house (have the guest room and kitchen left) and have assembled 75% of my new kitchen cabinets. 

I’m actually really enjoying putting together the cabinets, they’re straightforward and only take a few minutes for the carcass. The hard part is making sure all your hinges and slides are all in the right place. Since all of my cabinets except the lazy Susan and two pantry cabinets are drawers with doors, in trying to pay close attention so everything looks good. 

Right now everything is strewn about the living room, both bedrooms, and kitchen, which isn’t great, especially since demo starts Friday. But I’m much farther along than last week when I started. 


Will update more later, but above is kind of where I’m at. I’m working on the last two uppers now, then may try assembling some of the drawers for the pantry cabinets. 

Xoxo. 

Ps. I highly recommend watching Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2 over and over again while assembling a kitchen. It’s amazing and makes me miss my days working with choirs. ūüé∂

It’s been awhile

Hi friends, it’s been awhile! I’ve missed you. 

I’m sure not many of you have noticed I’ve been out, because I think only 2 people consistently read my blog and it’s been almost two whole years since I’ve written a word here, but I’m currently waiting for my parents to brave Portland rush hour traffic to rescue me at the IKEA warehouse, so here goes. 

Not a lot has changed with the house, except for a BATHROOM RENOVATION! If you follow me on Instagram I hope I kept you well apprised, if not, I’ll do a longer post at some indeterminate time that includes before and after shots. To pat myself on the back, it’s beautiful and amazing and I love it even though it cost me a small fortune. 

After 6 months of swearing up and down no more remodeling for awhile, I’m back at it. Remember how I’m stranded at the IKEA warehouse? That’s because I bought a kitchen today. A whole goddamned kitchen. 

Because I’m insane? Or a glutton for punishment? Or both? 


That is what 97 pieces of flat packed kitchen looks like, and it’s not even all of it.

After packing up the car as much as I can, and after the IKEA staff had already told me the next bit of info, I admit to myself there’s no way I could make it all fit. So I tried calling a friend. That sort of worked and I began driving across Portland to meet him to have him help me unload some stuff to make room for the other stuff. 

And I’m driving, and I can’t see too well because the rearview mirror is totally obstructed as well as the right side view mirror. But I’m going slow and I feel pretty confident I’m not going to crash my friends car and decapitate myself with a Sektion hi-cabinet with two doors and five drawers, and I keep driving. 

I made it about 6 blocks before I realize the only direction I can safely go is forward and left, and I don’t think I can make it home to Eugene using just those directions. 

I pull off on the corner of NE 106th and NE Wygant and frantically call Molli to figure out what to do. 

“I can’t drive, I can’t see, it’s not safe.”

“Let me see what I can do. You’ll be ok, maybe I can meet you up there.”

“I’m going to have to call my parents, I’m such an over ambitious loser!”

More moaning and whining follow and I call my parents to pick me up. 

They’re understandably confused, because I was planning to paint the house this weekend, not spend a small fortune in time and money picking up a kitchen from our favorite Swedish box. Then they think the car broke down, and then after I’m crying they realize I just can’t see and I need a rescue and it’s either them or I die all alone on the streets of Portland with $5,000 worth of IKEA furniture in my car…

So they’re driving here now. 

And I love them and appreciate them and am laughing at myself for being overly ambitious and excitable and having poor planning skills. 

But in the meantime, I had to to get a tow. So I use Molli’s AAA tow and the guy shows up and says, “What’s the problem? Your mirror fell off?”

“No… I just can’t see because the mirrors are blocked, see?”

He looks, and bursts out laughing. 

“This has to be the funniest call I’ve had in awhile. I can’t wait to tell everyone about this.”

And so I ate crow forever while he drove me back to the warehouse to wait for my parents. The end. 

If you want to follow the saga of the kitchen renovation, please follow me on Instagram. I’ll be posting like mad while I update the house and make everything pretty, since I’ll never be able to afford to do anything ever again after this. 

Which means maybe more blog posts! Stay tuned. 

UPDATE: this is what 97 boxes of flat pack kitchen looks like. I am actually ecstatic to put it all together. 

New Door! (and other updates…)

In the land of rainy 880 East, there’s been a flurry of activity.

I finally had the new front door installed! After cleaning and treating the cedar shake shingles and painting our outside trim at the end of the summer (another one off the to-do for now), the front door was looking sadder and sadder. When the house went from looking like this:

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To this:

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and this:

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and the door went from this:

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To this with a fancy new door knob and house numbers, before the painters tape is peeled off the glass:

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And here she is at night all lit up:

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The outside of the door is that light blue, and the inside is a super inky black/blue color that was leftover paint from the bathroom project. I’ll take a photo of it during the day for a better look at the color in the light, but overall, I’m digging the effect.

The door looks great, even better than I could have hoped. Thanks a bunch to my buddy Ryan for installing it and my good ol’ Dad for painting the door not once, but twice, when I decided that I wanted the inside to be a different color.

The lock-set is a Schalge Century with Latitude lever that I bought at Home Depot after drooling over it (and the black version, which I’ve only seen on Amazon) for over a year. I think it was a great choice and am excited that the door is installed. It’s just another box checked off the ever-expanding to-do list.

In other news, the baseboard heaters are gone! Well… in every room but the bathroom, but that heater doesn’t get used much so it didn’t make sense to pay for a new heater to be installed when I already don’t use the one that’s in there. My trusty electrician Jeremy came back and removed all the baseboards, installed shiny, pretty Cadets with thermostats, and finished in time to watch the Ducks destroy some football team from somewhere else.

Here is a picture of what it looks like in the living room:

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You’ll have to pardon the mess and the curtains. I’m are in the process of patching the wall where the baseboard was and doing some furniture arranging. A new rug is arriving Friday so I’ll probably be switching the decor up a bit. I want to change the curtains out for some natural wood roman shades, and Paul agrees. The curtains aren’t aesthetically what we hoped for and I don’t really like having to worry about them in front of the heater. We also have some more of (my) furniture to sell on Craigslist. I have an extra captains chair for the dining room and I’m going to call it quits on my favorite (but rarely used or seen as anything but a crap pile holder) maroon spaghetti chair. Hoping it finds a new home…

Once things are rearranged and painted and not dark out, I’ll post some new stuff.

Life has been crazy, let’s just hope it doesn’t snow, since that would really throw us for a loop.

XO.

It’s raining!

It’s that time of the year when the sky just opens and pours down rain on our little house.

Baby kitten is just learning about the outside by herself, which is cute because she comes in totally soaked but is still mesmerized by the novelty of exploring outside by herself, so she keeps wanting to go back out even though she’s totally drenched.

The best part of all though is the sound of the rain on the roof. It is such a lovely, cozy sound that makes me just want to relax in snuggly warmth with the rain as our soundtrack.

Our First Summer in the House….

Although this is our 3rd summer together, this is Paul and I’s first official summer living together and our first in this house.

It is strange to think that it is barely eight months ago we closed on the house and have made it into such a messy, comfortable home in such a short amount of time. We’ve already enjoyed some harvest from our garden, are sort of making headway with the landscaping and are starting to plan smarter with our veggies for the coming season. We have started to understand better what we want the house to look and feel like, and are getting to plan towards morphing our little hut into what we have imagined for it thus far.

Of course, being grown ups, life hasn’t really stopped as we figure out the house. For instance we went to the Newport for the 4th of July. Below is a picture of a beautiful Oregon Coast sunset and Paul looking handsome:

 

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2014-07-04 12.43.59And baby Alaya is getting huge, weird, and incredibly even more adorable (which I think is rude); and still hasn’t found her meow, sometimes likes Tobias, and occasionally does things like this:

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She's still not fully integrated indoor/outdoor, but we're getting closer!

She’s still not fully integrated indoor/outdoor, but we’re getting closer!

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Paul has since removed two large trees by cutting them down (mostly!) by hand, and digging out their stumps, such as this:

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Paul is very proud of himself in these photos, as he deserves to be! The tree he’s cutting down at dusk from our roof was a 30 foot hawthorne that had grown so far over the roof, we figured we’d have to pay to have it cut down. He cut the last parts of it down with a hand saw, then an axe, and finally dug the stump out over the course of a week or two. The scrubby looking pine was an awful thing that was cut down with a combination of hand saw, garden lopper, and chainsaw, and Paul dug that one out as well.

We currently have two rather large stumps just sitting in our yard.

In the meantime, the grape has gotten out of control (I’ll take pictures of the untamable beast) and in June I started a new job with the Eugene Symphony! My official “press” photo was this one:

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Just kidding, it was this one!

And here are some pretty house photos of what things look like when I haven’t started a sewing job, or a book, or sleeping…

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I’m rambling, and need to sleep and get a hold of my actual narrative before posting again. Maybe I’ll share some DIY stuff, or update the House Tour section of the blog…¬†

Or I can just be honest that I’ll probably just have to take like 10 million more pictures of the cats.

April showers bring May… tree stumps?

Usually in the Willamette Valley we get rain from October/November up until June and sometimes July. That means we have between 9 and 10 months of rainfall with a slight smattering of snow now and then (or a big fall every few years, big being very relative) and sometimes a bit of Indian summer in October. This year has thrown all that logic on its head.

We had two snowstorms. Not a smattering of snow,¬†but two huge (for our area) snow storms that shut down the city and everyone in it. The first one happened just after we closed on the house and the second one in mid February. They were both doozies, that’s to be sure.

But after the snow, we began to have less and less rain.

February ran to March, which led to beautiful, uncharacteristically sunny weather with intermittent rain storms through April and into May. On one of those uncharacteristically sunny days, we (meaning me) decided that it was the perfect day to start on our raised beds and plant a bunch of beautiful veggie starts. 

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That’s me, with the newly assembled and filled beds! That pile of debris to the right are the remnants of just some of many of the awful Hawthorne trees smattered around our property.¬†

The beds were filled with strawberries, salad greens and herbs, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, onions, garlic, beets, tomatoes, peppers, and tomatoes, and we wanted to plant melons and squash as well, but ran out of room. We have six 3×6′ beds in total, 3 of which were gifts from mom and dad (thanks!) and the rest were purchased from a local company called Redwood Northwest, and are incredibly sturdy, inexpensive and easy to install.¬†

After almost 8 weeks, the beds now look like this:

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Tomatoes, brussells sprouts, and asparagus

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Tomatoes

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Onions, scallions, garlic, and golden beets

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Broccoli and cauliflower

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Lettuce, kale, and dill

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Strawberries

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Sugar snap peas, brussells sprouts, bell peppers, and hot peppers

 

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Close up of our sugar snap peas

We planted all of these and five fruit trees, plus pruning and clearing the arbor of some super healthy and strong grape plants that came with the house. 

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The arbor was pretty much bare, but now the grapes are getting huge.

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We already have some baby grapelets sprouting!

Behind all this loveliness of growing, happy edibles, we have a mountain of fury and terror lurking on the whole south border of the yard. 
When we bought this house, our first attempt at taming them looked like this:

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Thank goodness for machetes and garden loppers

Paul bought a machete and proceeded to start attacking them one night after work. Soon they started to look like this:

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And now they look like this:

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It is amazing to see the huge improvement, not to mention the vast amount of square footage gained, from doing basic (and free) plant gut jobs. The work is hard, but deeply satisfying, and all the neighbors thinks we’re awesome now that the house is being taken care of.¬†

This past week we also removed two large, ugly pine trees, and a butt ton of English Ivy that has been overtaking our fence on the side. 

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It’s the small battles that make such a huge difference. And now, to end the world’s longest post, here’s a picture of our house on this beautiful day!

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That open space to the right may have a porch in the next few months….

 

Now we just need the front door to be painted and hung!

Reentering the world…

Last time I posted, we had just gotten our sweet, sick little kitten Alaya (who is still murdering us daily with cuteness and is completely monstrous and healthy), and had a surprise to unveil.

Obviously, there has been very little activity since then, for a couple of reasons. On February 21, I was laid off from my job of over a year with no notice. I had known that my company was struggling for awhile, but had been assured I was considered essential and that my work was beyond satisfactory. What a surprise then to come to work on a Friday and not have a job by 2pm that afternoon.

Of course, after working (usually more than) full time for over a year, I was completely caught off guard and had to throw myself into job hunting. I have been working since 2012 in small business and manufacturing doing a combination of sales, customer service, account and project management, production, and administrative work, and was lucky to find a job in my “field” after only a week of unemployment.

I use quotes around “field” because my passion is actually reproductive justice, public policy, and non-profit development (fundraising). I am still looking for a position in my passion fields, but for now, my experience being unemployed taught me two things:
NEVER take the first job you are offered, unless it is the job of your dreams
&
even if it is your dream job, ALWAYS ask for time to consider their offer, because¬†you’re awesome and you are allowed to evaluate how much you are worth to your new employer.

Case in point: Only one day after accepting my new position, I got a call from another local manufacturer I had applied with who wanted to interview me to work for a trendy, local, high end leather-works company. If I had been thinking clearly and given myself more credit, I would have asked for a few days to consider the offer from my current employer and could have interviewed with other interested companies.

You live and learn though, so I have wisdom for next time.

On the house front, being unemployed gave me some very condensed time to plan and search for ideas to remodel the house (because we are so flush with remodeling funds…). So far, my imaginary plans involve moving the washer and dryer either into the bathroom (is that strange?) or hall¬†closet (which involves rerouting some plumbing and moving a wall, yikes…), and moving the kitchen around. So far almost all of our plans involve making our space more cohesive and usable, with more storage, and classic modern elements like bright white subway tiles, and brushed nickle finishes.

In keeping with our non-existent house remodel budget, I have made a pact with myself to spend every Sunday at BRING (our local reuse/recycle building materials store) to hunt for materials for our house. I went there last Sunday and got 11 sq ft of 3×6″ white subway tile for $2.50! I just need to hit the jackpot with subway tile like that just 200 times more since we are talking about white subway tile in the kitchen and bathroom almost to the ceiling…

We also planted our garden and are almost ready to paint and hang our amazing front door. I will post more about our remodeling plans (with photos) soon.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

The weather has been terrible here…

Last Wednesday started the beginning of a terrible multi-day snow and ice storm that is not very typical for the Willamette Valley and kept me trapped in the house for multiple days with no way to leave. A light dusting of snow on Thursday led to a heavy snow storm Friday afternoon into the night and freezing rain all day Saturday. The weather finally broke on Sunday and began to warm up, but not before taking down many limbs and power lines throughout Eugene. I have some friends whose power just got turned back on today!

We were really lucky that no power lines fell and left us without power, since all of our heat, cooking fuel and appliances are electric. We would have been up shit creek without a paddle! 

The snow did some fun stuff though, being pretty and sparkly and stuff is nice, plus it gave me a chance to actually photograph our house a bit in the lovely sparkly snow light! 

ImageMaybe it will stop raining and this weekend I can post a small tour of our lovely, little house… Plus we’ll have a surprise by then!¬†

Also this:

ImageI am seriously dying of cuteness every time I look at her. Plus she looks so cute on that amazing chair!

 

 

Passing the time…

Getting the house organized has been quite the journey, and is definitely still a work in progress, but some great things have happened since we moved in!

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Can you see why it was so crazy when we were moving in?

We had our electrical updated which means it is safe to run all our appliances, computers, etc. (and we had a few new outlets thrown in there!), our new AMAZING triple-paned windows are being installed next week, and we have been enjoying many wonderful dinners at our awesome Craigslisted dining room table.

Because I know I’ve been neglectful, I am going to post a couple photos of the easy-peasy chair reupholstery project I tackled last Saturday in a little less than an evening.¬†

Now, I should probably preface this with a bit of background. The summer after I graduated college, I worked briefly with a local upholsterer who taught me some basics about upholstery and recovering furniture. While working with him, I bought an 8ft-long Mid-Century Modern couch off Craigslist and vowed to reupholster it for my future home. Last January, I was able to finish that project, as well as tackle a matching club chair and ottoman (different Craigslist scores) to form what is now ¬†my living room set. Although recovering a set of dining chairs isn’t as intensive as a full on reupholstery job of a giant couch and chair set, it is an easy, gratifying project you can accomplish in an afternoon with the right tools and materials.

After I finished my couch and chair, I had like 10 extra yards of beautiful Duralee upholstery fabric, so that is probably what all my future upholstery projects will be covered in, since foam is expensive and I’m feeling cheap.¬†
SO the story goes…

I was thrifting with my parents when we headed to the St. Vinnie’s Warehouse where I almost always find some treasures. It’s an as-is store, so they often send the furniture that is either too big, or too rough for their other stores and is a big reason I like the place. I was hunting specifically for dining chairs to match our new table, but I was hoping to find two matching chairs. After practically giving up and settling on a pair of country spindle chairs for $15, my dad called me back to the record section somewhat frantically.¬†

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Cute, but not exactly the style I wanted.

What do I find? 

A perfect set of Mid-Century Modern teak dining chairs with awful upholstery (and in need of some refinishing) for $20!

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Hi Dad!

After taking them home, I cleaned the wood up and then avoided sitting in them for many days because the upholstery was so gross. After looking at them for about a week, I made plans to have a friend over and forced myself to buy new foam, an electric staple gun (which I hate and am returning) and pulled out my couch fabric stash to get cutting. 

The first step is unscrewing the seat from the chair base, which is usually held in by four screws, one in each corner (save those screws!).

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After that, I stripped the cushion materials and threw them in the trash. If your seat has nice foam, or materials that can be reused, you can definitely save them (and I would suggest it, it will save you money!) but these were nasty, water-stained and stinky. Into the trash they went!

ImageYou then trace your seat base onto your foam, cut it out, and use a spray fabric adhesive on the foam and wood to adhere it to the chair. 

As you can see, it’s ok if your lines are not perfectly straight, you just want the shape of your seat without a ton of extra foam (unless you like the overstuffed look) as it will get in the way of your fabric. You will also want to cover your foam with Dacron (a polyester or cotton batting material) which will smooth out any hooky lines and give a more attractive shape to your cushion.

I don’t have any photos of this specific project with Dacron on it, but here is a photo of what it looked like when I was redoing the couch:

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The Dacron smooths out the line so you have a nice smooth surface for the fabric to be stretched over.

 

After gluing the Dacron to the foam so that it covers the seat and all four sides but is flush with the plywood seat base, I get to lay my cushion on my fabric and start stapling! 

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Damn electric staple gun! I have only ever used a pneumatic, so I am sure that I am biased, but the staple gun was so bad at sending even pressure on the staple that I had to go around and hammer each staple individually to sink the side that the gun didn’t sink deep enough.

When you are stapling your fabric to your cushion, you want to start with one side (the flattest is usually the easiest, so I started with the front of my seat as the back is curved) and put a staple to hold the fabric in place, and then stretch the fabric parallel and staple it. Knowing how much to stretch the fabric comes with experience, but you usually want it taut but with a little bit of give (people will be sitting on it after all). Once those two sides are secured, I like to go back and sink two more staples on either side of the first one (two to three inches apart is great) so that the first two sides are a little more secure, but there is still plenty of fabric for your other two sides.

Next step is to repeat the process with the two unsecured sides. Continue to sink staples working on parallel and opposite sides, trying to keep the fabric appearing even and smooth. This is especially important when your fabric is patterned because it will show if you don’t work the sides evenly (in home upholstering, omnidirectional fabrics will be your best friend).

After your sides are mostly stapled down you can begin to do your corners. For mine, I did two folds on either side of where the chair leg would meet the base. It made a nice even crease, and was simple to do. There are a million different ways to do corners, so just play around and see what you like!

The end results?

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Voila! So easy and fun!

I’m going to try to get around to doing a better overview this weekend, but as a quick update….

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We’re trying to adopt this kitten! Tobias will finally have an adorable baby kitten to play with!

 

 

Moving towards modern electrical!

This is going to be a super boring post, but not every house thing is glamorous smashing and replacing of things and decorating. Plus this was a super exciting thing to learn about.

One of the things we didn’t know about the house when we bought it was the exact state of the electrical in the house. The house had two-prong outlets in most rooms, but in a couple rooms there were three prongs so the home inspector didn’t think much of it. I knew we would want to replace the two-prong with three-prong outlets eventually, and even assumed we could just do it ourselves. Upon taking out some of the outlets and looking into the boxes, I realized I do not have the skills, or desire to try to rewire outlets (the shock I received after I thought I had turned off the correct breaker helped to reiterate that fact), so I called an electrician to get a quote.

I was worried our whole house would need to be grounded – since the three prong outlets I examined were only had two wires attached – which could mean anything from sinking grounding rods into the property and running new wiring to every outlet and replacing all the electrical in the house with a new panel. I pretty much assumed that we were looking at $1000 job.

The next day at work, after trying to research and find good electricians in town, I asked my boss if he knew anyone that did electrical work. He recommended the (licensed!) expertise of the husband of an old employee, so I emailed his wife and we just got to meet him this evening. We got to walk through the house and talk about what we are looking for, and he wants to start actually changing things tomorrow morning, which is going to be such a relief.

We are looking at replacing all our outlets with updated three-prong outlets, plus installing a new outlet and circuit in the kitchen, a new outlet in the hall, and GFCI outlets in the places that need them. It will be so awesome to have the electrical updated, so we don’t have to use converters anymore, and we can look into replacing the baseboard heaters with Cadets!

The best part of all?

Our electrical is safe, once Jeremy is finished, will be totally up to code. Yay!