Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Living Room Update

New living room furniture.When winter arrived we put some of our patio furniture inside of our living room. And we found it so fitting — function-wise — that we decided that upon arrival of spring we’ll replace outdoor pieces with proper furniture.

Top of the coffee table.That’s exactly what we did this past Sunday. We went to a local Raymour & Flanigan of all places and picked out a set that we liked. This time around we didn’t want to risk buying sitting units without actually sitting on them first — online doesn’t work for that.

View from the dining room.We also decided to go with loveseat again instead of the sofa, even though the price difference was only around $30. We like moving these around and didn’t want something too heavy. We also attached pads to all the legs of these things which makes sliding really easy.

Winter setup. The before picture.And as far as the deal goes we started with $2,800. I was pushing for $2,000 and after a conversation with a manger and a call to district manager we agreed upon $2,250 with taxes and delivery included. Decent deal. All in all we got a leather loveseat, armchair and a metal-stone coffee table in gray, to match our overall theme of this room.

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Living Area v0.9

Family room. View from the staircase leading to this floor.It’s now been almost 8 months since we’ve moved into our new house. All this time has been well spent on making it truly ours. We didn’t bring any furniture with us. Now we had a chance to start and style our house anew. It changed quite a bit from where it has started.

This is another post in series of posts about how we set everything up, following the recently published update on our kids’ rooms. I’ve taken these pictures several weeks ago and in that time they’ve became slightly outdated — we’ve finally put a bunch of art and paintings up.

Family room. Looking from the fireplace in the opposite direction. Hallway leads to all the bedrooms.The centerpiece of our family room is our enormous orange leather sectional. This was one of our purchases on Wayfair and one downside buying furniture online is that you can’t really test how comfortable the piece will be. Turns out it’s not, because of the shape of the backrest. However it was easily remedied by a couple of puffy pillows.

The ottoman was also not attached, so it was sliding out of our preferred place, so we screwed it together with a couple of brackets underneath. However it does look stellar and after a few modifications that we have done it’s very functional. We use this place as our main evening TV watching location.

Looking from the family room into the dining room.Speaking of TVs — we’ve ended up mounting them on the wall and are not using any additional furniture. Our old TV is mounted in our kitchen eating area, and our newer one1 is in our family room right across from our orange sectional. Both TV are powered by Apple TVs hidden behind the screens themselves. No wires, no nothing. Family room TV has Philips Hue Play bars attached to it.

Originally we were trying to hire somebody to put them up, but eventually gave up on that and I mounted them up myself. We’ve probably saved a bunch of money and did them perfectly to our liking.

Dining room. Looking at the opposite wall.I’ve written earlier about our fireplace, but since then we’ve done yet another thing to it. We’ve actually installed glass doors onto the opening. The problem was that after we would make a fire we would end up keeping the flute in the chimney open all throughout the cold nights because the fire would still be still smoldering. And we end up losing all the warm air that we generated and then some.

So now we can close the glass doors and leave the flute open. Another thing that we discovered was that even with the flute closed there was a major draft happening that became very apparent after the doors were installed, but before they were sealed on the sides. So overall it’s a good investment for winters and summers, even when the fire is not going.

Living room, temporary loaded with patio furniture set.Another thing that we did soon after moving in was changing really old-fashioned chandeliers to a set of very modern ones. In fact we’ve got a ton of compliments on them. These were a “new house” gift from our parents.

And we also put up the curtains on all our windows making the space so much more cozy. The family room curtain was an old one from our Brooklyn apartment that we eventually replaced, but it’s found its place on our window again. And the living room curtains were a gift from our parents in Belarus.

Living room from another angle.For the dinning room we originally ordered a set from Wayfair for quite a bit of money. And then a day after we did that we went to IKEA. And out of a ton of furniture stores that we actually visited IKEA had the best looking modern wooden table that we’ve seen for a really good price. We were slightly disappointed about that.

And then Wayfair delivered their furniture. Beside the fact that more than half the pieces were completely broken during shipment and the fact that half the set got delayed by three months the actual quality of veneer on this furniture was paper-thin. And then they sent replacement for the broken parts that also came in broken.

Living room, showing the door leading to a covered porch.So we were glad to just cancel the order at that point and order a table and a set of leather chairs from IKEA. Couldn’t be happier. And then on another trip to IKEA we bought the final touches to our dining room — big round mirrors done in the same color of wood as our table. Initially we were thinking of putting up a big rectangular horizontal mirror, but a pair of these ended up looking much more interesting, we think.

Our living room was originally fairly empty and Alёna actually liked the idea of a lot of open space, but when the winter came around we moved our patio furniture — sofa, table and the armchair — indoors. And it ended up being very useful and comfortable in its current location. For the summer we’re going to move it back to the patio and are going to buy something more permanent for our living room.

Living room, looking toward the dining room and kitchen bar.We also managed to find a large pot for a plant in orange-teal theme that we have going. This plant used to be tiny when we originally got it — it would fit in a tea cup. This is the second time that we had to replant it and we’re hoping its going to go through this move OK.

And the kitchen bar is the place where we eat our breakfasts, lunches and dinners, unless we’re hosting somebody. It ended up being extremely convenient. Much more better than a set up we had in our apartment — eating everything on a living room coffee table and moving all the plates and dishes back and forth between that and the kitchen. The granite counter is much easier to clean among other things.

The bar chairs were left by the previous house owners and we’re fine with them for the time being. We might update them to something more modern looking when we have a chance. We did remove that metal contraption from the wall and replaced it with a painting.

We’re loving how it all came out and are enjoying our house and all this space very much.

  1. SONY XBR-55X900F. []

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nice Things

Pen Type-A and my notebook.I’m a big fan of nice things. I like having them just for the sake of having them. I want to write a couple of way overdue words about a pair of such things.

Even though these two are becoming obsolete in our modern smart phone and computer filled lives sometimes it just feels nice to write with a pen on paper instead of typing. It’s just like flipping through the pages of a real book instead of using a Kindle.

Leather notebook and Pen Type-A.First there was a nice custom crafted leather journal that Alena got me for the New Year of 2012. It has a laural leaf embedded under it’s leather cover. It feels like an antique book with a nice hardcover and great paper. Sometimes I like to scribble things down when planning a trip or do some math and it’s a pleasure to use this journal.

Another such thing is a finely precision crafted pen done by a pair of Brooklyn designers — Pen Type-A. I founded it on Kickstarter in August of 2011 and it took them over the year to actually get all the pens out to people — the projected ended up being much more successful than they expected.

Nice things. Pen Type-A, leather journal with laurel leaf and leather messenger bag.A lot of people whined about the length of development. Those folks had an expectation of funding something as if they were buying a product, while in fact you’re just investing in the idea. I had reasonable expectation going in and a year of development time wasn’t any kind of shock. For me it was well worth the wait — the pen is great and the struggle that they had to go through is worth writing a book about.

The pen itself takes Hi-Tec-C cartridges or can easily accommodate one from a Pilot G-2 pen. I have a very pleasant association with Hi-Tec-C on its own — those pens being the only physical gift that I brought for myself from Japan.

Pen Type-A by CW&T.Pen Type-A is made of a precision crafted stainless steel and comes with a sleeve. When the pen is inserted into it — it forms a vacuum inside the sleeve. As a result it comes out with a loud pop when you pull it out as well as it slides in very slowly while pushing the air out.

In the background you see my good, old (not really that old) leather bag from WaterField which is a piece of art in its own right. But I wrote at length about it before. As I said — I just love nice things.

P.S. When I came into a meeting with 6 other people and unsheathed my pen — every single person noted and complimented it.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WaterField Muzetto Leather Bag For iPad

WaterField Muzetto leather messenger bag.Approximately one week into my iPad ownership I started looking for a nice leather messenger bag that I could carry my iPad in. Starting from day one and to this day I bring my iPad with me into the office, but carrying it in my hand was not practical and I didn’t want to drop it accidentally one day.

WaterField Muzetto. iPad in the front pocket, magazines in the main.The first bag that I found that I liked was Knomo Kilkenny. I wasn’t 100% sure on its look and while I was thinking it went out of stock everywhere. I figured — oh, well, wasn’t meant to be. All this time I kept coming back to look at more bags and nothing else looked even remotely nice in the size that I wanted.

Perfect fit.I had few simple requirements — I wanted it made out of brown leather, I wanted it to be a messenger bag, since I find it the most comfortable, I wanted it to be pretty small, since I would mostly only carry iPad in it, but I also wanted it to be big enough so I could fit a magazine or a file with A4 pages inside if I had the need for it and finally I wanted it to look nice.

WaterField logo and gold liner.So after months of searching I stumbled upon a post on Mac Rumors forum that discussed iPad carrying options and somebody linked to a company called WaterField that designs and makes their bags in San Francisco and their Brown Leather Muzetto bag seemed like a perfect bag that I was looking for.

Here is I with my new bag.They don’t mass produce anything, so we had to place an order for the next production run which was supposed to happen on September 15th, and it wasn’t even a middle of August yet. But Alena did place an order and it arrived at the end of August, several days before my birthday, which was perfect, since it was my birthday present from her.

Gold liner.iPad fits into the front section that is done in a soft fabric to prevent scratches. The bigger main section has a gold liner that is designed to make it easier to see things inside as opposed to having a black liner. It has one zipped pocket inside of it. And there is a back section for additional stuff. The bag has colored nylon inserts, red in our case. As far as the size goes we ordered the 11″ version to meet my magazine and A4 file requirement.

The bag is perfect. I totally love it. The look, the feel, the functionality.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vaja ivolution Top SP Case

Front cover.Never posted a note about the 2nd Vaja1 case that we ordered — ivolution Top SP. Alena uses this case on her phone.

This is my own personal opinion of the case and since I’ve never extensively used it myself treat it as such.

Rear cover.I think it offers superior phone protection when compared to my case at least with regards to having all corners covered.

The leather itself is soft and very pleasant to the touch, much nicer that the shiny plastic on iPhone itself.

Bottom. The front cover swings down.The screen is protected really well, but as you can see it doesn’t cover the bezels on the sides of the screen itself, which is a good thing — no issues using the screen near the edges.

Originally I thought that it would be hard or impossible to open the case with one hand, but by now I have no issue with that — just takes a little bit of practice.

Screen is fully covered when closed, yet easy to use when open.The phone in the case can not be docked, if that’s your thing.

As you can see the wear shows after about 7 months of use, but Alena keeps it in her purse along with all other stuff. The wear however is purely cosmetic.

Cosmetic wear on the sides. Access to the side buttons.The cost was $85. There are a lot of color choices for the case itself and for the central stripe. This case gets thumbs up from me. A very good, functional and stylish case by Vaja.

  1. I can’t link directly to the case because Vaja uses Flash on their site. []
In: Gadgets & Gear   Tags: , , , , , , ,
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Living Redesign

IKEA wall unit, Giormani leather sectional sofa.Big day today. Had two deliveries of new furniture and then we had a pickup of a donation of our old stuff to a Jewish organization. The new sectional sofa and a table are awesome. Huge upgrade. We really lucked out on the sectional deal1, I think.

New Giromani leather sectional sofa and coffee table.Our old couch, armchair, TV and the stand are gone. It’s somewhat sad, but I’m glad I’m not the one who had to move that stuff out. Poor guys barely moved that TV and then I saw2 poor bustards unload it on the wrong floor, before reaching the bottom level, by mistake. But they seemed to be laughing when they realized.

  1. 25% cheaper than all other places, and when the price is in the thousands it really means a lot. []
  2. Internal building video feeds. []
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Vaja Classic Retro Case

Front side of a case with iPhone inside.It’s been 2 weeks since we have received our custom cases from Vaja. I’ve been using classic Retro Dockable case daily and I’m at a point where I’m ready to write a form of a review for it.

Back of the case.Here is exactly what I ordered — Plain Vitelino leather1, “Passion” body color, “Sabbia” stripe color, kickstand2, ultra clip3. The total came out to $1114. You can also have them engrave the case with some custom text, but I didn’t get that.

I will start by saying that I’m practically in love with it and this is the best case that I have personally used, seen, or touched. If with other cases I was trying to have “as little” case as possible, this one evokes an opposite emotion. I enjoy it’s bold look and feel.

Cover and stitching close up.The craftsmanship is superb with perfect stitching and perfect tight fit. Leather is very pleasant to the touch. Vaja has a multitude of colors available to choose from, although their Flash “case builder” does not give a true representation of actual colors.

Open case with a phone inside.Functionality-wise it has its pluses and minuses. I feel that the phone is well protected, yet the switches, the speakers, microphone and dock connector are easily accessible. Camera is unobstructed. The screen cover is held down with magnets, but it can easily be flipped open with a thumb, so one hand operation is still possible.

Kick stand.The kickstand on the back allows the phone to be placed on the table with a screen facing you either in vertical or horizontal position, even though it does add some bulk to the case.

I’m still not 100% sold on the belt clip idea, even though I find the implementation great. I used to always wear a phone on a belt clip before the Treo. And I got used to carrying my iPhone in the pocket. The size of the phone doesn’t seem to place itself on the belt. Otherwise the connection between the case and the belt clip is very secure, yet it is possible to unlock and remove the phone with just one hand.

Empty case.Inside, the case has a small plastic protector covering the area around the speaker (all sensors work without any issues), but the the area for the screen itself is just an opening, which is great — there is no reason to have additional screen protectors when there is a leather cover on top of it.

Case flipped open.This brings me to a couple of problems. When placed in the case the screen ends up being recessed and not flush with the case face. As a result some actions that have anything to do with touching the edge of the screen became harder than they used to be. A good example of this would be moving icons from one screen to another. Although soon you learn that you can drag your finger over the edge of the case itself, but still, not as easy as without the case.

Top with, with connector, speaker and microphone on the bottom.Also since the home button is covered it’s not as easy to click and you don’t really get any tactile feedback from it. There is something glued to the back of it, but it doesn’t seem to be big enough. It’s a minor issue as well.

In conclusion I want to say that this is a great case and if I had a choice, I would order it again without any hesitation. You get what you pay for and it certainly is true in this case. Get it?

Update: There is a very thorough video review available by a guy named Omar C.

  1. $6 option. []
  2. Kickstand is a $20 option. []
  3. Belt clip mount, $5 option. []
  4. You can find coupons online to get a decent discount. []
In: Gadgets & Gear   Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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