Sonia says the cutest things. I’m doing my best to capture all her nuggets of wisdom while I still can.
Around my computer, I’m a neat freak. Alas, the same could not be said for me and my handyman tools. For the past several years, you see, they took residence in an old plastic picnic basket. I purchased a dedicated tool box last year, which gave me more room in the basket, but the fact is – it was still a jumbled mess. In fact, this is what it looked like (more or less) up until this evening. (Imagine more bags, old furniture instructions and the like piled on top.)
I wanted a dedicated box to place all the screws, nuts, bolts, picture hangers, and other odds and ends I’ve collected over the years. But beyond that, I wanted an organizer that could sit upright or flat without all the little bits moving from bin to bin. After all, that is the point of organizing, right?
There’s a solution to every problem, and so with credit card in hand, I spent a few hours researching organizers on Amazon. For about $15 or so, I found the Stanley Professional Organizer, model 014725. The reviews were good and the price was right, and – even though I’m not a “professional” as billed on the box – the name sounded important – so I ordered one.
The Professional Organizer arrived this evening. It’s made of a very rugged plastic, with a see-through case and sports 25 storage bins. The bins are removable and can be repositioned within the box. The clasps to hold the lid are strong and lock in place. And best of all, it’s specifically designed to be positioned upright or flat against a surface – with no over-spillage of the contents within.
The handles are easy to grip and wide, making it comfortable to hold.
Here it is after transferring all the odds and ends to the new organizer. Finally – I can see at a glance what I have and can easily find what I’m looking for.
All in all, the Stanley Personal Organizer is a solid product. It’s great for organizing small parts, nuts, bolts, nails, or any odds and ends. For $15, I feel like I got my money’s worth and then some. But don’t tell my picnic basket…
More Seattle / Vancouver adventures coming up, but I thought I’d digress for a moment and share one of my other hobbies: handyman work. In this particular case, I took on a project to restore the luster on two unique, one-of-a-kind lamps. We’ve had these lamps since 1999; they were purchased at an estate auction for the whopping price of $10 each.
Alas, I don’t have a photo of the complete lamp for the “BEFORE” picture. But imagine, if you will, a battered lamp shade filled with crayon marks on it. Then, there’s the mechanism you see below. The glass housing was caked with dust and Sonia’s crayon marks. The wood platform also was replete with crayon marks. In short, the lamps were an eyesore.
Below is a photo showing the two lamps side by side. The left image is the untouched lamp (before restoration), while the right one is newly re-stained. The stain brought the wood back to life.
What I love the most about these lamps is that they’re fairly unique. Inside the glass are an intricate collection of gears that run the electric meter. When the lamp is plugged in, the gears spin, ever so slowly.
Removing the glass housing was surprisingly easy. Here it is, after a thorough cleaning with vinegar, followed by soapy warm water and soap.
Below are the newly stained lamp bases.
And here’s a close-up photo after the housing was cleaned and reassembled.
Finally, I added a new lampshade to complete the effect. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.
To make this restoration possible, I used medium grade sandpaper ($5), a small can of stain ($4), sponge brushes ($6 for a 6 pack), and a new lampshade ($15). Before the restoration, these lamps were on Aarti’s “toss away” list. Now, (just like me) she can’t imagine parting with them.
A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.-Earl Wilson
There’s nothing like vacation to shake up the routine, and that’s exactly what my family and I did on our most recent trip to Seattle and Vancouver. It was our first family vacation in quite some time, and to be fair, we really needed it.
So, why Seattle?
Despite traveling extensively across the United States, I’ve never managed to make it out to the Pacific North West region. I’ve heard so many great things about Seattle, that it was an easy sell. The fact that Seattle was only 2.5 hours from Vancouver (another beautiful city) didn’t hurt either.
Seattle has a lot to offer, and our seven days were packed to the gills with fun family friendly events. We purchased a CityPass online, which allowed us to visit six attractions at a discounted rate. I highly recommend the Seattle CityPass, because you save money and time. (With the CityPass you don’t have to wait in line to purchase tickets.) For about $200, my family and I were able to visit six attractions:
First up on the docket was the Experience Music Project – a most unusual structure that adorns Seattle’s skyline. The EMP is located very close to the Seattle Space Needle and the Pacific Science Center – making it a great first stop if you’re visiting the city. (Parking is about $14 – with early bird discounts available if you arrive before 10AM.)
It’s no secret that I’m a very big fan of Jimi Hendrix’s music. Friends who know me might go one step further and categorize me as an obsessed Hendrix freak, but I digress…
The Experience Music Project was built to commemorate Jimi, and it does that well – but it also has several other attractions within it that make it worth your while. Think of the EMP as a music and pop culture museum.
There are so many interesting visual and sonic experiences (ahem!) to partake in. Take, for example, this stunning collage of guitars that span two floors. The picture below doesn’t do it justice – you really have to witness it firsthand.
The holy grail for Hendrix fans is the legendary White Fender Stratocaster that he played at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. It’s on display at the EMP.
We walked into the Hendrix in London exhibit, which has posters, articles, video, etc. from that era documenting the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s performances within that country. It’s neatly arranged and fascinating to look at. I wish I had more time to spend in this room, but having a five year old in tow made that impossible.
There’s Sonia in front of another Hendrix Strat – this one was apparently sacrificed to appease the guitar gods.
The second floor consisted of a celebration of women in rock. Various costumes, personal effects, etc. from women rock-n-rollers were on display. Also on the second floor was an entire room filled with music gear that kids of all ages could play and have fun with. Sonia got a kick out of the keyboards.
Outside of celebrating music, the EMP has additional levels, featuring sci-fi, fantasy and horror pop culture items. Where else can you pose with a Dalek from Dr. Who?
Or sit on a throne made of knifes and swords?
Or meet the robot from “Lost in Space”?
Or check out some triply B-movie sci-fi posters?
There’s plenty more than that – including a massive theatrical wall that immerses you with sights and sounds – and a private auditorium where you can sit and enjoy various music-related concert performances. We didn’t get a chance to really experience those as I would have liked to, but I did poke my head in and was suitably impressed with what I saw.
My only major bummer was the fact that the EMP gift shop didn’t seem to carry any medium or large Jimi shirts. I was so hoping to get my hands on an Are You Experienced? T-shirt – but alas, that never came to pass.
In short, the EMP was a great start to our Seattle tour. If you have any music, sci-fi, horror or fantasy fans in the house, you owe it to yourself to “experience” the EMP firsthand.
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