The world’s first remote-controlled garbage disposal!


Remember back when Jamie the wonder-electrician installed an outlet under the sink in the kitchen so we could plug in the dishwasher and garbage disposal? At that time we all sort of stood around scratching our heads because while we had the outlet we needed to power both machines, we didn’t have a switch to turn the garbage disposal on and off. So if the garbage disposal was plugged in, it was running. It would take a significant amount of work on Jamie’s part to make the outlet switch-operated, let alone only make one half of the outlet switch-operated. And since we pay Jamie in beer, we didn’t feel right asking that of him.

So we had to get creative.

We could plug a switch-operated power strip into the outlet, and then plug the garbage disposal into that power strip. But that would involve going under the sink to flip the switch on the power strip every time we needed to garbage-dispose something. Plus I’m pretty sure having a power strip near a kitchen sink is a recipe for electrocution.

Then Ben had a brilliant idea: A REMOTE-CONTROLLED GARBAGE DISPOSAL.

For only about $25 we bought a three-pack of these doohickeys, called wireless remote controlled outlet light switch plugs. Here’s how it works: you plug it into the outlet, plug the garbage disposal into the switch plug, and then turn it on and off with a little remote control that we keep on the window sill next to the sink.

It's a widdle remote!

It’s a widdle remote!

Fits right into the outlet.

Fits right into the outlet.

No complicated electrical work, no risky extension cord, no poking around under the sink every time we need to use the disposal. Just a handy little remote! So far it works brilliantly, and the remote is tiny and unobtrusive.

I married me a smart man.


It’s not easy being green


So I painted the bedroom.


Other side of bedroom

Other side of bedroom

Master bedroom with giant closet. Ok, reasonably-sized closet. The point is for the first time ever we'll be able to fit all our clothes in the same closet.

Master bedroom with giant closet. Ok, reasonably-sized closet. The point is for the first time ever we’ll be able to fit all our clothes in the same closet.


I've always wanted a green bedroom.

I’ve always wanted a green bedroom.

That would be Behr color Mountain Sage in eggshell if you were wondering (of course you were). I waited until Ben went on a business trip before banging out the bedroom color. That way only one of us was inconvenienced by having to sleep in the guest room for a night while the paint dried. Fun fact: paint doesn’t stick to laminate floors. In fact, it comes right off with a wet paper towel. Don’t ask me how I know.

I’d show you more pictures of my sage green walls… but the bedroom is still in progress! Wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise, now would I?

Ok, you’re right: I freakin’ hate surprises. Ben has to be extremely sneaky around birthdays and Christmas. So here’s the other cool thing I’ve done with the bedroom so far: closet curtains!

Much better.

Much better.

One of the best things about our bedroom is that it’s big enough to store all of our clothes. In our last couple rental houses, we’ve stored Ben’s clothes in the office and my clothes in the bedroom. It was always awkward, but we didn’t really have any other choice–we were living in tiny bedrooms with barely enough room for a single dresser! In fact, when my friend Katelyn asked me about my dream house, I told her I wanted built in bookshelves (DONE) and a bedroom big enough to allow me to stand on both sides of the bed (DONE). My needs are simple but imperative.

Anyway, in the Casa Fickbonne we actually have a bedroom large enough to stand on both sides of the bed, AS WELL AS the square footage for two whole dressers and a closet more than large enough for all of our clothes and shoes. HELLO, DREAM HOUSE!

This will not do.

This will not do.

Only problem is that the closet is… less than attractive. It’s fully functional and whatevs, but it’s kind of an eye sore. The simple solution is to cover it up with doors or a curtain. The long-term solution is of course to re-build it with all kinds of fancy organizing shelves and stuff to make it look creative. But I’m an American, dammit, so the short-term solution is what I went with today.

I bought a curtain rod (oiled bronze to match the curtain rods in the living room) and some curtains with my Bed, Bath, & Beyond gift cards from Christmas (thanks, Grandma!) and installed them in about 20 minutes.

Slightly sheer, but majorly awesome.

Slightly sheer, but majorly awesome. HEY THERE’S A DOG IN THIS PICTURE.

Look at that beauteous closet curtain. It’s slightly sheer, and goes with the whole Earth-tones, forest motif we’re embracing in the bedroom (and by “we” I mean “me” because Ben routinely forfeits his opinion on all decorating matters). “But Jess!” you say, “Why buy a curtain when you know it’s so much more cost-effective to make them from scratch, like your mom did with the living room curtains.” Listen, punk: I come from a long line of talented seamstresses. I am not one of them. Sewing machines hate me. They break down and jam at my touch. They know that I am simply not my mother and they refuse to work for me. So if I have a BB&B gift card, I’m going to avoid the frustration, ya feel me? Moving on.

Still… it’s not quite what I want.

The closet curtain is simply too obtrusive. The curtain rod makes it stand out too far from the wall, which means the room is smaller. I also really don’t like the grommets at the top. So here’s what I plan to do:

  1. Install a tension wire within the closet doorway, bolted into the wall at either end and the middle.
  2. Shorten the curtains by creating a pocket seam at the top and removing the grommets.
  3. Hang the shortened curtain by running the tension wire through the pocket seam.
  4. Profit.

Yes, this means I’ll need to use a sewing machine. I’m psyching myself up for the inevitable battle. At the risk of jinxing myself, I think I can handle two very simple pocket seams. And if I can’t… well, then Ben will write an update to detail my inevitable screaming fit after he’s boarded up the front window I smashed by throwing the sewing machine through it. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

But for now, the ugly closet is covered. And that’s enough.

Guest post: Chelsea’s revamped wall map


I just had a great idea: guest posts! Because all my friends are at the age where suddenly decorating and home improvement are fun weekend activities rather than video games (or, well… in addition to video games), I figured why not share the blog real estate with the other home improvers in my life? So without further ado, here’s a guest post from my pal Chelsea Schmidt, who is working on making her Boston apartment DIY-beautiful. Check out her blog Chelsea Wanders.

I am delighted that Jess has let me creep into her blog for a guest post! Thanks, Jess!

Now, I’m not an avid DIY-er by any means, but this past year has been a lovely little adventure into the world of makin’ stuff. The last time I wrote about making a thing I posted about it in my barely updated blog. You can check it out here.

So, this map.

The wall map at Christmas!

The wall map at Christmas!

This map has been in the family for generations. And by generations I mean apartments and by family I mean just me. I’ve had this map for over seven years which is probably the longest I’ve ever had a material object in my adult life. When I moved into my first big kid apartment in college this map was my very first purchase. Probably because I had just gallivanted through Europe and I was obsessed with world travel and I wanted to be reminded of the big, glorious world every goddamn day! Hence GIANT MAP! I also had grand ambitions for everybody who came to visit to put a pin in the map (ideally in a place they wanted to go), but moving meant losing the pins and their placement… crushing that particular dream.

Back then it was completely kosher to scotch tape posters to walls because we were only one apartment removed from the dorm, and I still shared my room with another person. I’m pretty sure those two things exonerate me from any décor crimes.

But times have changed! I’m a grown ass lady now and it’s time to abandon my days of reckless poster placement. Either this map was getting a classy upgrade or it was getting a one way ticket to trash town.

For years I’ve been saying “Guys, I’m going to frame that map one day. It’s going to be great. Indiana Jones will come by and say ‘This belongs in a museum!’ People of all ages will be amazed by the frame’s ornateness!”

But did you know frames are expensive? Especially for posters that are 4×6 feet? What a shocker! Fortunately I stumbled upon this lovely idea.

This project involves Modge Podge?! I CAN MODGE PODGE! And you can, too, I bet.

Here’s what I needed for this project:

– a map

– canvas (feel free to get creative! I liked the look of three long pieces of canvas, but I’ve seen people mix and match various sizes for a funky look. I got my canvas for 50% off at Michaels!)

– modge podge (I used matte)

– some kind of brush (I used a big paint brush for modge podge and a smaller one for painting the border of the canvas)

– your choice of paint (I stumbled upon this paint at Michaels and loved it immediately)

1) Figure out your map on canvas placement! I knew my map wasn’t going to fit perfectly on the canvas because I decided to cut the border off. It was frayed and ripped and looking pretty rough! So I snipped it all away. I’m also far from a perfectionist. I just did my best to cut the poster into even thirds (spoiler: It was not even). Smart people will measure everything before cutting it, but hey, I like to live on the wild side.

2) set your map pieces to the side and paint your canvas! I painted the edges and a border around the entire thing. Make an extra wide border just in case! So you don’t have to go back and add more paint if it’s too narrow. Let it dry for about an hour. You can do another coat if you want. I didn’t!

3) now it’s time to go modge podge WILD! This was really fun because the map pieces were so BIG! It may take some finagling to get your pieces lined up right on the canvas, but I believe in you. Take it one section at a time starting at a corner. I put the modge podge on the canvas and pressed the map down. Some people may be obsessive about making it nice and flat. Again, not me! I actually really dig wrinkles for this particular project because it makes the map look older. Follow your heart!

My middle piece was too big (see? Measure things, goofballs!) so I had to modge podge the extra map parts onto the side of the canvas. It all worked out in the end.

After the map pieces were modge podged to the canvas I did another layer of modge podge on top of the map. so much podgin’.

4) Let it dry over night. Then hang it on your wall! You’re done! I’m proud of you.

The finished wall map on canvas.

The finished wall map on canvas. It’s a thing of beauty.

See how easy that was? It also doesn’t have to be a map! It can be an old poster of any kind! I think you could class up pretty much anything by putting it on some canvas!

If reading about crafting puts you in a generous mood check out my fundraiser: Leave Cancer in the Dust 2015: The Runishment. My friend Jeff and I are raising money for cancer research by running an ultramarathon this year! Jess was actually our very first donor because she IS THE BEST!* So be like Jess and be the best by tossing a few bucks our way! We’ll be eternally grateful!

*Edit from Jess: It’s true. I am the best.