home renovation update


Have to complete some tasks for the home renovation project before my trip. What we did this week:

Picked up lights. One for my room quite expensive but the rest either display or from a shop that is closing down. For mum’s room she picked one with fan and for Papa’s room we found one that usually goes in kids’ room–an airplane shaped light. Other lights are variations of standard LED lights.

Picked out door lock for front door, accessories for kitchen and bathroom (toilet roll holder, mirror cabinet, shelves), light switches, colour for skirting board.

Ordered oven last week and it was delivered on thursday. They called the day before but I missed their call but they got through to mum. They left a message that they’ll deliver between 12-2pm. I was early, arriving around 11am. But just as I was getting off the bus, our contractor called that the oven had just been delivered, one hour early. Bless him, he dealt with them, even paying the small stair fee.

I remember when I bought my flat 20 years ago, I had a hard time trying to find an oven. Built-in ovens were extremely expensive and in the end the only option was an all-in-one with hob. Nowadays, ovens are much more prevalent. For the new kitchen, I’m getting an Electrolux. Very happy about it.

I’d anticipated having to hang around till 2pm, but I was already done at 11.30am. More time than what I know what to. I had to go to the bank at one point, but I had to find lunch first. Thought about going to the hole-in-the-wall Thai place sis introduced me to, decided on frites instead. I like their salad lunch buffet. I ordered my favourite st bernadus ale before I realised it wasn’t happy hour and the beer cost as much as the lunch! Argh. Ah well, it’s just me.



When I put in blinds for the study, I picked one that was pale white. It didn’t have any blackout function at all, because I didn’t need it in the study. If anything, I wanted it to be light enough even when I had it closed.

I never anticipated that I’ll need to sleep in the study, but that’s what I’m having to do now. (I never anticipated I needed to share my flat with anyone, tbh.) The sofa bed arrived a few days ago and the first morning afterwards I was woken up by the bright morning light. Ah yes, in addition to pale blinds, the study window also faces east.

The solution, even though I’m not keen on it, is to sleep with an eyemask. There are no side-effects from using a sleep mask, if anything there seems to be tiny benefits. There are also fancy models costing up to £60–this one is made from:

organic, bamboo, silk fabric subtly infused with the scent of natural lavender.


I have a few of them, collected from flights. No need for £60 eyemasks, this simple one did the job. The problem is, I don’t really like using eyemasks. Having a cover for my eyes isn’t the issue, it’s the presence of the straps that makes me feel like I constantly want to yank them off. I just have to suck it up, either get woken up in the morning or get enough sleep.

home renovation: electricals


The contractor had an electrician over to check our fuse box and he told us that we need to rewire as the wires are frayed, old and dangerous. It’s not a con, or contractors adding on work, because I knew it was the most important thing that needed to be done but mum didn’t want to at first. I’m glad we’re finally doing it.

I drew a plan of the flat and where I think the plugs should go. I got the idea from mm who had me draw a plan with measurements when the project first started.


Seemed to work, we went through with the electrician and he drew out where he will install plugs and wires. We want a lot of the plugs about 60-70cm above floor level which surprised him. Why do plugs need to be at floor level? If it’s behind the tv with all accessories like cable, dvd player why isn’t it raised to be easier to reach? I’m also getting 2 doubles next to my desk for all the computer stuff.

moving day


When the movers arrived at 10am, my room was all ready and so was Papa’s room, most of the living and dining rooms, store room, bridge, helper’s room, bathroom and most of the kitchen. Actually what wasn’t ready was anything to do with mum’s stuff. She was still packing as the movers were packing. I didn’t pack the kitchen except for storing anything we’re not taking in boxes so I asked the movers to pack that. Lots of boxes.

They didn’t have room in the van to take our stuff away so we’ll have to ask the contractors. There was room in the van for both mum and I to ride along.


What did surprise me was how little we actually took with us to rob, because it took them no time at all to unload, for me to unpack essentials, and for the flat to look neat and tidy. The sofa, tv table and coffee table returned to their original positions, we have 2 fridges, and I managed to squeeze about half the kitchen stuff into the kitchen. The rest are in boxes in my room ready to be taken back to ede.

I’m taking the small room which as aforesaid spare kitchen stuff, my plastic boxes, a box of stuff from my desk, my clothes rail and tools. I packed the most important items–passports, documents, money, chequebooks–into one backpack. I’m still sleeping on the sofa until I get the ikea sofabed.

Everything was done by 3pm. Sis came over and she had nothing to do! We all went to the globe for dinner, which was extremely nice.

bbmm home renovation exploration


Meeting mm in the afternoon but I had a few errands to run before that. Had to go across the harbour to central post office. I hadn’t realised that the price of postage had gone up so a letter I sent was returned. I had to pay a penalty (the equivalent of 5p lol) and the additional postage (another 5p) to send the letter again. The cost of the penalty and additional postage was less than how much it cost me to travel to the post office and back! But it was a management fee payment and I didn’t want the cheque to get lost forever. Anyway, it was a surprisingly clear day with no visible haze. I still had to take anti-histamine so there’s still a lot of pollution.

Had tea at toastbox with mm then took the bus to the area where there are a number of home decoration shops. Saw more tiles and other stuff. She had made me measure out the dimensions of the rooms in the flat and draw the whole flat out. Used that to ask for price estimate for tiles and the like. I’m so inexperienced with home renovation that I hadn’t given the process much of a thought.

Boarding school this weekend at mm’s.

home maintenance and evil property developers


Our building is a low-rise with a total of only 16 flats. It started life as a co-op for civil servants. As time passed, it became privatised and non-civil servants were allowed to purchase units. There is one company that managed to buy a few units as they came on the market. They seem to be a property developer represented by an estate agent and they rent the flats out to private renters. It’s a popular rental even though the building is very old and there are no lifts. One of the most important aspect for these renters is we are in the catchment area of a large number of good schools. The developer has a total of 6 out of 16 units.

Last year, there was a government inspection of the building and as a result, there is some remedial work that has to be done. Patch the cracks on the outside wall, replace some pipes, fix part of sewage system that has collapsed. For a building this age, it’s held up surprisingly well. At an earlier homeowners’ meeting, it was suggested to take the opportunity and add a few maintenance items like re-pave the carpark (which is full of potholes), renew the waterproofing on the roof (the top floor flats report leakage), repaint interior common areas like the staircases. The last time they did maintenance on the building was over 10 years ago so it’s good timing.

The building hired a consultant to manage this project, an RFP went out, responses were received and a shortlist of potential contractors came for an interview a few weeks ago.

The representative of the 6 units told us that their client (the anonymous property developer) wants only to do the absolute necessary mandated by the government inspection. They don’t even want to paint the exterior after it’s been patched. So the homeowners association is now split into two fractions. The “original” owners like us and an outsider property developer whose ultimate motive we suspect is to buy everyone out so they can tear the building down. If they don’t even repaint the outside walls the building looks terrible and people who may want to sell can’t get a good price from other buyers so this property developer can swoop in and get the flat cheap. That unfortunately is the MO of property developers and estate agents, I’ve never come across a more unscrupulous and downright distasteful industry.

Today’s meeting is to vote on what tasks to be done and to decide on the contractor. The original owners made the effort to contact every single owner to get them to come to the meeting or assign a proxy. It was important that we get more than 6 in order for us to have a say.

The consultant conducted the vote and as expected, the property developer voted against every item that was optional. Yes, even repainting the outside walls after patching. Luckily we still have a majority so most of the optional items passed.

Our group agreed that we need to come up with a viable strategy to protect ourselves. As time passes, more families may want to sell and as soon as the developer gets more than half the units, they will have complete control over what happens to the building. Any families still remaining will be in a disadvantageous position. Hard to believe owning a flat can get this political.

new look store room


Mum’s friends introduced her to a part-time helper who can come once a week to help with household chores. We started with tidying the store room, aka the maid’s room that we have been using as store room. There is no ‘before’ pic because: a) I didn’t think of it and b) it was extremely horrible with stuff thrown all over the floor.

We threw away so much stuff! I’m so happy we can see the floor, albeit it’s 1960s style tiled floor. Most stuff we threw away are old or hasn’t been used for years. Organised other stuff that mum bought, put in a bag or box, and promptly forgot about it. That’s why we have so much toiletries, they were hidden in boxes and bags.

Next week, we’ll tackle the bridge and part of the kitchen.

spring clean time


Spring clean time.

Scrubbed the hob with the brillo pads and the steel sponge I bought at the ¥100 shop. The steel sponge has a regular sponge on one side and the other feels like smooth sandpaper. It worked magic with the stubborn stains that had been ingrained in the steel parts of the hob. I haven’t been able to scrub them perfectly shiny clean, they look pretty good though. Perhaps less surprising, the hob that I use most often is the cleanest and the one I hardly ever use the grimiest. May be the heat and flame get rid of the food deposits. If only the store had more than just one of the steel sponges available; on the shopping list for next time.

Changed bedclothes too, which is a feat of engineering because I have a ginormous and heavy duvet plus 5 pillows. And barely any room to manoeuvre around my bed. Tried out this rolling method for putting the duvet inside the cover and it does work. I have to get better at flipping the corners but it’s quicker, I’m definitely huffing and puffing less, and the top of the duvet fits better.

home stuff, bbmm with mum

Homeowners’ meeting this morning, to go through the work needed after our mandatory building inspection. External walls need to be patched, cracks on common area walls, broken windows, roof waterproofing, sewage pipes and all that. Quite a lot. The contractor went through the tender items and we will need to invite for tender. There are only 16 units and one company owns 5 so it’s not a big group. Couple of things I learned. First, charge an admin fee for contractors interested in submitting a tender, to filter out riff-raffs. Second, it’s so easy to get everyone’s agreement on common sense stuff. There isn’t enough funds so the management fee goes up. Other places will need a formal quorum, vote etc. We just all said, yeah, we’ll have to increase. It’s all for the building anyway.


Lunch at home then met mm for tea with mum. Went to the pokka café so mum can try their hot chocolate. Fancy thick chocolate in a jug that she could pour over cream, and a container of marshmallows on the side. Less rich than the iced chocolate I tried at the other café.

With mum’s card, mm was able to get her shredder, coffee grinder, alarm clock and stationery. We bought a basket-full of snacks, toiletries and miscellaneous stuff.

It was already quite late. After looking on the restaurant app and calling a few places, we ended up at another ayce japanese place. This is for shabu shabu. Extremely cramped tables but we liked it because: a) the food was good and b) the service was fast and pro-active. The usual beef, pork, seafood, vegetables. We also had sashimi. Good value, especially for dinner. Apparently the place only opened a couple of weeks ago, so kudos to them for getting it right so quickly.

flat maintenance, bbmm drive

Had to go to my flat in the morning to meet the handyman to sort out a couple of things. Apparently the aircon switch doesn’t work and there’s sewage smell in the bathroom and kitchen. The aircon didn’t work because the tenant had the unit in the off position!! I wonder if he’s ever seen a window aircon unit before, I bet in LA he has central aircon.

The sewage smell was due to stagnant drain. It’s the floor drain next to the bathroom that I never bother with. I’m supposed to pour water down it occasionally. So when the handyman did that, it solved the problem. I went out to the supermarket and bought a large bottle of disinfectant and now the bathroom smells nicer. The kitchen smell was due to the washing machine drain and the handyman told me to get some electrical tape and seal it off.

Met mm for lunch. Went to the DVD place and got The Fall s1 and 3, have to order s2. I wanted The Librarians but they don’t have it. Mum and I were watching over the weekend and looked interesting.

Grotty weather, drizzle and rain. We collected mm’s car that was at the dealer’s and drove out to the beach. Normally at the weekends it’s bustling. Today we were hard pressed to find a store that was open. Had ice cream and a beer. Walked around the village but retreated to the car when the rain got heavier.

Home for dinner.

hottest day in history, my fridge broke down


Today the observatory recorded the highest temperature since records began in 1885. Although 36.3ºC isn’t that hot compared with many other places (I remember driving in Provence during a 40ºC heatwave, and the car thermometer reached 100F/38C on the way back to Chicago), it was very uncomfortable with the triple whammy of extreme heat, over 90% humidity and horrible pollution. The forcast says 31-32ºC but in reality it will feel hotter because of the humidity.

The reason behind the weather is the monster typhoon Soudelor. We can see its size in the pic from the international space station.

So on the hottest day in recorded history, my fridge decides to stop working. I’ve had it repaired a couple of times already, the freezer coils frost up and the fridge compartment doesn’t get cold. The technicans say it’s either the thermostat or the timer. I got rid of the freezer coil frost and dismantled the back to see if I can reset the thermostat but I couldn’t get it working again.

I have 8 salmon filets and a bunch of frozen stuff I do not want to spoil, so I packed everything up into a suitcase and got a taxi to my parents’ place. Their fridges are usually pretty full and mum did grocery shopping today. My dad is so smart, he managed to find space for my stuff. Yay for parents!

all technicians are late


There seems to be some sort of universally acknowledged rule, that if you need to make an appointment for a technician to come to your home to fix something or to set up something like the internet, a) they can only offer you a vague, not useful time range; b) they are always late.

I spent the whole day waiting for someone to come fix my fridge. When I came back from shunde wednesday night, I discovered that the fridge and freezer had stopped working sometime between Monday afternoon and Wednesday night. The light was on in the fridge compartment so it wasn’t the power supply. For good measure I reset the fuse box of the whole flat. Nope. Everything in the freezer had defrosted so I had to throw most of them away, luckily I didn’t have ice cream that would have made a mess, or raw meat that would have smelled. I did however have some leftovers from the restaurant yesterday and some fruit that is barely surviving at room temperature. It’s hard not to have a fridge in 33ºC weather.

Anyway, the appointment was 1-4pm. I waited, and watched tv, and did a bit of TRX. 4pm rolled by, of course he hadn’t showed up. I called the service centre and was told he was still stuck at another job and it’d be an hour. Sigh. When will I ever get to be the 1pm appointment?

Almost 6pm and still no one. I called the service centre and no surprise they’re gone for the day. I called up the sales department and wouldn’t let them fob me off. I told them I was aware they were the sales department but if there was someone there who could help me please. To their credit, they found the appointment in the computer and rang the guy for me.

Technician showed up around 6.15pm. The fix took him all of 10mins. Apparently the timer on the thermostat flipped and was stuck at the off position. Argh. He also told me to leave an even larger gap between the fridge and the wall to let the heat dissipate. Strange, because my fridge isn’t in an enclosed space, but whatever. At least my food isn’t going to spoil anymore. There’s nothing in the freezer apart from dried food and film (35mm film, from pre-digital camera days) so I’ll have to do a mini shopping run soon.

i fixed my fridge


The fridge is not cooling down sufficiently again. This happened in March so I tried to fix it the way the technician did it when he came to repair it.

I unplugged the fridge, took out the freezer drawers, removed the door of the coil compartment and identified the problem. The evaporator coils of the freezer were frosted over so the cold air wasn’t making it up to the fridge compartment. I used a hairdryer to melt the frost, using a cloth to soak up the dripping water. It wasn’t a serious frost problem, so after10 minutes it was okay and the food hadn’t started to defrost yet.

It’s not the call-out fee saved—it’s pretty minimal; it’s timing. I’m thinking the earliest I could get a tech out would be monday, and by then my food would be spoiled. If it were any other piece of household appliance, I would have called someone. My first instinct is always to call someone, I’m by no means a good DIYer: I can change lightbulbs and drill a hole, that’s about it. Mum and I wallpapered and tiled the bathroom when I was young but that was mainly Mum. I don’t own any power tools and i certainly cannot change a tire.

Fingers crossed, that’s the end of my fridge troubles.

murphy’s law vacation variation


Of course, if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. Especially just before I go on holiday. Last time the fridge conked out, luckily there was enough time for the repair person to come, and it was just the fridge not the freezer. This is one time I’m glad we buy european appliances from a reputable dealer rather than from the high street.

Over the weekend, my hot water heater stopped working. It’d been raining very, very hard for the previous few days so moisture might have seeped into the heater and affected the pilot. The ceiling light next to the heater blew out too. Again, luckily the heater was from the gas company and I was able to book a repair appointment. Their earliest slot is on Tuesday though, so it’s been cold showers or going to parents’ place. It’s started to get warm, 30°C so cold showers isn’t a problem.

Then tonight as I was heading home, the bus broke down. The first sign was when it was turning from a side road to the main road and it slipped backwards. I didn’t think large buses had manual clutches — a normal car may slip when we don’t engage the clutch properly but I would have thought buses are automatics. The driver tried to start the vehicle multiple times, to no avail. We couldn’t have broken down at a worst place. The side road is narrow and connects from a large main road. It was useless to get off the bus, go to the next stop and wait for another bus because all the other buses were stuck behind our broken down bus. Not a great picture, but behind the #103 (our broken down bus) are all the others #23, #40 etc that could have gotten the passengers on their way. Luckily I was near enough home to be able to walk, even though it was 1.5miles, uphill, and it was hot, muggy and drizzling.

I got home, plugged into my mba and was greeted by a server error. No internet connection. What!?! The airport was on, network diagnostics showed wifi was working and connected. It was definitely not the wifi because both iphone and ipad worked. Seems to be a sporadic problem. Solved by shutting down and restarting. Phew.

Lesson learned: things will go wrong at inopportune moments. There is usually a silver lining though, so don’t panic (and carry a towel).

nano 2013: building a home

This year’s nano is inspired by a Grand Designs episode that featured two women who built a beautiful, eco-friendly, grass-roofed, larch-cladded house on the Isle of Skye. Grand Designs, for those unfamiliar, is a UK tv program that follows home building projects. While that description seems bland and boring, it is quite the opposite. Most of the homes featured are unusual, thoughtful and frankly covet-worthy.

This is one of my favourite episodes because this one was all about following and realising a dream. From a young age, one of the owners have dreamed of having her own house with a grass roof, and this is the story of how she achieved that. The episode is also about compromise, and living within one’s means. The resultant house isn’t grand: it’s only 90m2, with one bedroom and an end window that would have been spectacular if it were higher. There’s a wistful and sort of inspriing quote that comes out of this:

better to have a small amount of something you love than to have too much of something you don’t need

I also found another inspiration recently, of a young couple who build a glass house from recycled windows. It’s a peaceful, fantastic house with another story about another couple. Theirs is also about a dream, but also about creativity and finding a particular way of life.

The practical side of me questions these designs. Do houses with grass or flower roofs really work? Won’t they flood or collapse? A house with top to bottom windows sounds so precarious, surely it can’t withstand heavy rain or strong winds?

But that’s me. If everyone were like me, these projects would never have seen the light of day.

I’m almost done outlining the story. The MC inherited some land and a dilapidated hut/cabin. She wants to build her ideal house, but has to balance between her past life and lifestyle with her idealistic view of her future life. The second MC has already achieved her ideal orderly life, and she doesn’t need creativity or dreams, or so she thinks. Hopefully I can come up with some good interactions and character development. Still have to do some research into the logistics of house building, find info about where to set the story and decide on the supporting cast. The house itself will be a character in the story too, since its growth is so intricately tied to the growth of the MCs. It’s almost like I can name chapters based on each stage of the process.

old persil


Mum decided to clean out her place. It’ll be a gargantuan task because I don’t think she’s ever thrown anything away. She started with the storeroom and uncovered loads of clothes, decorations and stuff that needed to be trashed. There was also a box that appear to contain my stuff. Wow, things I wasn’t able to take with me to Chicago and have forgotten about — mostly small electronics like kettle, iron, stick blender. Plus a 3-pack of Persil. Yes, washing powder. Since the packaging is in German, it must have been from Switzerland, which means it dates back to 2001. Yes, 12 year old washing powder that my old-old company paid to ship across continents and sitting in a box at my parents’ place for 5 years.

It’s not money or action figures but hey, I was just running out and needed to get washing powder next time I’m at the supermarket so I save a buck or two.

vinegar washing machine


I had a maintenance person come in to replace the seal on the washing machine door. The machine is 3 years old but there’s a lot of grunge and mould on the seal cos the tenants didn’t take as much care of it as they should have. The cause of this common phenomenon? Using only cold wash, modern bleach-free washing powder, liquid detergent and keeping the door shut all the time are the main culprits. Now I know to do a hot wash once a month, and wash bedding at higher temperatures. I already leave the door open to air every time the cycle finishes.

I tried cleaning the seal with vinegar, one of the 1001 uses for vinegar known to man. I even combined it with sodium bicarbonate. But I’m not satisfied with the results. So a new seal it is. It’s out of warranty so I had to pay for it, sigh.

home renovation


Before filing all the receipts and stuff away, I put the cost of this renovation project in google drive. There are small expenses I must have missed, like hooks and shower curtain, stuff like that. Plus travelling costs. All told, rounded up it rounds up to £12k or $20k. Nothing immediately obvious, the project was mainly for basics like new windows, new cutrains, new kitchen (cabinets, sink, worktop, hob, oven, the works), paint, 2 new air-conditioners. Furniture unchanged, some of them have been around the world twice, proving their value several times over.

new oven

hkhome019oven chickencauli

New kitchen means new oven, amongst other things. Tried testing it yesterday, and was alarmed that it didn’t turn on. Called the contractor who, to give them credit, came as soon as they finished on their other job. Turned out, the fuse in the plug had blown. Easy enough fix, and now I know how to remove and re-install the oven. It’s white, btw, not sure why the pic turned out blue.

Nothing fancy as its first meal, just dinner. Herb roasted chicken leg with curry cauliflower.

fitting out


Even though I shipped cleaning stuff like fairy liquid, ariel and swiffer; storage stuff like foil, clingfilm and ziploc bags; even toilet paper I hadn’t used up — there is still a lot of household items to buy. I don’t have a car, and I didn’t want to use delivery, so it means going to the supermarket and buying whatever I can carry in one trip on the bus. So far I’ve bought: comfort, kitchen roll, washing up sponges, kitchen cleaner, bathroom cleaner, rubbish bags, insect spray, air freshener, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel. And that’s fitting out cleaning and bathroom items.

Fitted out the fridge and freezer too. Milk, cheese, eggs, ham, chicken, frozen veg, ice cream, coke zero, olive oil, condiments all had to be purchased and hauled home. No need for snacks, s&p and tea bags, those came on the shipment.

Amazing how much stuff it takes to fit out a home, and I didn’t start from scratch. Been quite a busy shopping bee.

paint codes, or the search for egyptian cotton

egyptiancotton 20yy60104

The task sounds simple. Find and decide on the paint colour to use in my flat. The flat in London uses egyptian cotton, very readily available at the likes of B&Q and Homebase. I bought a small tester pot for touching up before I left. I actually had a spare pot but who takes paint tester pots with them when they move countries?

Ah, if only.

When the contractor showed me the colour sheet available here, it turned out they don’t have this colour. I should have know, I really should have. He said to look it up and give him the code and may be he can find it. Okay, I said. I’ll go to their website.

First I wanted to find out the product number for Egyptian Cotton. Problem #1, they don’t use code numbers in the UK. Right. A little googling brought me to a huge database of colour swatches and I was able to find it, even came with the various colour coding notations:

  • RGB hexdecimal: #D6CEC1
  • RGB 0-255: 214, 206, 193
  • RGB %: 83.9, 80.8, 75.7
  • CMYK %: 0, 4, 10, 16
  • grayscale: 207
  • L: 83, a: 1, b: 8
  • hue: 37°, saturation: 10%, lightness: 84%
  • X: 59, Y: 10, Z: 84

I’m familiar with RGB and CMYK, having used them at work to define corporate colours for presentations; and way, way back when I knew how to use Pagemaker. I never got into the exact science part, of using mathematical models to describe colours. Just like fonts, it’s a topic that I have a small fascination with but no time yet to fully learn or explore.

Armed with so many different notations, I thought I was sorted so I went to local dulux, which has a nice colour palette page. HA! Problem #2, the selection for neutral colours uses yet another notation. I’d never seen this before, it took more googling to discover that it’s the munsell system, which looks academic and complicated.

Problem #3, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way of converting RGB to Munsell, I couldn’t find any free online converters. The nearest is an app (yes, there really is an app for anything), but I’m not keen on spending £2.99 on one colour. Then again, the tester pot was about £2.59 so I may be tempted.


Using the most primitive method, aka The Eyeball, I tried to find the nearest equivalent. Very difficult, The Eyeball isn’t precise enough. Back to google, and I found colorzilla, a neat firefox plugin. I scrolled through the extensive palette but none are exact RGB matches. The best is 20YY 60/104, which has a RGB value of 216:202:183 (vs 214:206:193).

Anyway, Mum and I went to a paint shop today, and all they have is the same original colour sheet that my contractor gave us. To get this 20YY 60/104 I may have to go direct to Dulux, and even if they do custom mixing it’ll cost much more. After all that, I may end up having to pick something else more generic. Just like in fashion, there’s haute couture and ready-to-wear, looks like I’ll have to go pret a peindre.



Stayed home all day. Played computer games, read some, did research into paints colours. The most constructive thing I did was to replace the hinges on one of the kitchen cabinet doors. These spring-loaded hinges look complicated, and I had difficulty figuring out how to open them. But the mechanism of how the 2 parts fit was pretty straight-forward, once we took out the old ones and replaced with new ones. Even managed to adjust the doors properly.

home work


Went back home to pick up letters and see the state of the place. The new flooring is great, I like the lighter wood effect. The bathroom is…okay, needs major cleaning and should last a while. The bedroom closet needs to be replaced. All light fittings are so old and grotty, but replacing them is easy. Need new windows and curtains or blinds. The kitchen is a disaster. The units are so high up that it’s impractical. The hob, oven and ventilator all need to be replaced. There is a piece of wood / laminate stuck on the washing machine (no frame, free standing) and it’s supposed to be a worktop. It’s the general sense of ugliness and lack of thought that bugs me.

So, I need the apartment renovated. Sigh.



The day after 2 weeks’ holiday = chores. The workers in the basement woke me up at 8am, it’s okay I have plenty to do today:

  • vacuum
  • filing
  • fruit and veg shopping — no meat yet, need to clear out freezer
  • upload kentucky pics — 338 pics here
  • check lease and get prepared
  • other general cleaning

At least no laundry yet, can wait till the end of the week. Luckily there’s time for reading and watching a bit of Wimbledon.


Newspaper grape purple
image courtesy flickr user ns newsflash

I spilled some of the sauce from my lunch inside my backpack and there’s salmon smell everywhere even after I cleaned up. Lots of ideas on how to get smell out including baking soda, coffee grinds and activated charcoal. Hmm, I have none of that, or may be just a small tub of baking soda. I do, however, have newspaper. I sprinkled a few drops of lavender scent and stuffed a few wads inside the backpack. Hey presto, it worked.

basic DIY

Contrary to certain stereotypes I’m absolutely crap at DIY. I can change lightbulbs, wire a plug and assemble Ikea furniture. I don’t own a drill. Tinkering with my car? Forget it. I don’t even know how to change tires — I know how to check oil level and refill windscreen wiper fluid, that’s it.

So the w.c. has been dripping for a while — a steady drip drip sound, but no visible leak. I googled a bit and it seems the most obvious culprit is a leaky flapper valve. There were so many to choose from at home depot I got the most generic looking one. Now I have “change toilet flapper valve” in my repertoire of DIY activities I can do. Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s pathetic. It’s like someone getting excited they can add “whisk eggs” to their cooking abilities.

laundry turns

There are only 3 of us in 3 apartments. I wonder why sometimes it’s difficult to coordinate laundry. I wanted to do laundry on Tuesday but the guy in the basement was using it. Then yesterday my downstairs neighbour came back from being away and was doing his laundry. So finally I get my turn today. In-unit laundry was the one item I compromise on when I took this place. It’s not a huge deal though.

#76, 77: renovate bathroom & kitchen

pan006bath pan005kitchen

I left my flat in the good hands of my parents, who I trust to have better taste than me. Mum did call me a couple of times to make decisions on colour and materials.

So both the bathroom and kitchen were renovated. The pics above were taken just after the movers left in April. The ones below are new. There’s also really beautiful new flooring and closet doors. Papa and Mum made good choices.

pan014bath pan012kitchen

clean me, shine me, smell me

Lifehacker has a cute little article on how toothpaste brings back the sparkles to cloudy glasses. What an amazing substance, this toothpaste, lots of good ideas for its use as a cleaner, refresher, and even for first aid.

I find that after I’ve peeled prawns or gotten my hands all smelly eating seafood, washing with toothpaste takes the smell away pronto.

Heh, probably nothing new.

home. work.

Whole day off today, yippee! But what did I do? I cleaned my dusty shoeboxes, threw out empty ones, vacuumed thoroughly under my bed (and the rest of the apt), made fruit salad, did 2 loads of laundry and tons and tons of ironing.


Oh, on the upside, I watched the rest of season 2, took a little nap and read a little. Unfortunately I also ate lots of junk food.

Still boring.

Why is housework never ending? Sigh.

my mbp vacuums too

Two of the items I want for Christmas — a new lens for my camera and a roomba. The lens is understandable, cos I want a better lens, right? But what’s up with the roomba (or equivalent)? Because I’m too tired or lazy to clean all the time. My sis commented that all I seem to do at weekends is laundry, ironing and grocery shopping. I don’t clean often enough.

via wired, someone allgedly wrote a script that allows control of the roomba using the mbp’s tilt sensor. I mean, the tilt sensor can already be used to make lightsabre noises, and now it can vacuum my floor? swoon

big expenses

I can’t spend any more money on big ticket items this year. So far I’ve bought the macbook pro and spent quite a fair bit when I was in the US (Century 21 is such a huge temptation). Last week I paid for an Aeron chair and yesterday I put down the deposit for a 37” LCD TV. The chair should be delivered next week and the TV, I have to wait till the beginning of Sept!

I was thinking about redecorating, since the place is kinda falling apart:

  • huge cracks in the bathroom tiles
  • bathroom water heater about to come off the wall
  • grouting all worn down
  • kitchen cabinet doors need replacing
  • new worktop for kitchen
  • new flooring for the whole apartment
  • living room curtain rail has fallen off
  • install some sort of curtain or blinds in the study
  • air conditioners should have been replaced 2 years ago
  • closet doors are warped
  • fix that water leakage from the tap / pipe outside the bedroom
  • new paint, possibly rewiring

I don’t think that can be done till next year. Sigh.