Friday, May 30, 2014

Hiding a Cable Box and DVD Player

Hello and happy weekend! Do you have anything planned for these next few days? Lately, our weekends have been a mix of relaxing, half marathon training (my recent 9-miler was a beast), and house projects. Last weekend, I finally converted our "new" buffet into a media center.

In keeping with our "theme" of hiding TV cords in our back room, thus making things a little more baby-friendly, I wanted to tuck our cable box and DVD player out of sight. At first, I thought about putting the cable box and DVD player in a drawer and adding a hinge to the drawer front so that it would drop down when we wanted to watch TV. After talking with Meg, she suggested drilling holes in the back of the buffet and buying an Infrared Receiver Extender Cable. The cable plugs into the cable box or DVD player (out of sight) and the receiver is mounted to the front of the TV or somewhere else in sight of your remote control.

Unfortunately, that model was incompatible with our U-verse HD cable box (a Cisco ISB 7005). Fortunately, one of the Q&A commenters on Amazon suggested a model by Nextronics. I ultimately purchased the Nextronics IR Infrared Remote Extender Repeater (Dual). I liked this model because we could control the cable box and DVD player with one infrared receiver.

This whole project, not including the cost of the buffet, costless than $30. About $21 for the infrared extender and about $6 for a Bosch 1-1/2-inch spade bit from Home Depot.

I ultimately decided to put the cable box and DVD player in one of the side cabinets. There's a little more room for the DVD player to open and I only had to drill through one layer of wood. Based on Young House Love's similar project, I marked off 4 holes (3 inches apart) for the wires and ventilation.

After donning a pair of safety glasses (trust me, wood was flying!), I made quick work of drilling the holes.

Once the holes are sanded, you can hook everything back up. The HDMI cables were already connected to the TV and tucked behind the wall thanks to the Wallblade (see how we installed it here).

The infrared extender cable uses the USB port on the TV as its power source. Once connected to the TV, I fed the wire with the two mini transmitters through the Wallblade and through the holes in the back of the buffet. I then stuck the mini transmitters on the translucent or infrared window on the front of the cable box and DVD player. Finally, I mounted the large receiver to the front of the TV.

So far, everything is working well. The large receiver has a light that turns green when turned on and will flash red when it receives a signal from your remote control. Just be sure to point the remote at the receiver.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Urge to Purge

Hi! Remember me? I hope you're enjoying the spring weather while crickets have been chirping around these parts. As I touched on a while back, blogging has moved down on the list of priorities, while chasing after a baby toddler and training for a half marathon have moved up. But I'm feeling inspired to start writing again. We've been doing some projects around the house and somebody has a 1st birthday on the horizon!

If you follow me on Instagram (@FiscallyChic), you'll know that I went on a little cleaning frenzy a while back (clearly this post has been sitting in draft form for a while). This happens every so often, usually when we have company coming over. Last year, the mega cleaning bug also bit after going to an estate sale and while still pregnant and getting the house ready for Monica.

I keep a bag of items to be donated in our closet and take it to Goodwill once the bag gets full. When the bag was more than full, I knew it was time to clean house. I was feeling inspired by Jess Lively's most recent "Throw out 100 things challenge" and had also read about the minimalist challenge on Design*Sponge where you get rid of one item for each day of the month: one item on Day 1, two items of Day 2, all the way up to getting rid of 30 items on Day 30. They also linked to The Minimalists and I fell down the rabbit hole reading about minimizing. More recently, I discovered the Minimalist Baker after hearing Dana's interview on The Lively Show. Which, by the way, is a must-listen-to podcast!

So back to the post at hand...I also felt the urge to purge because Monica is crawling (!), pulling herself up on things, standing (!!), and now taking a few baby steps at a time (!!!). She loves to put everything in her mouth, so I'm trying to minimize the choking hazards and other household perils. Plus, we now have her stuff to contend with and reign in.

Instead of just donating the items in that shopping bag, I started to take a closer look at other items cluttering my life.

I donated clothes that didn't fit well, clothes that I haven't worn in years, and clothes that don't fit my current lifestyle. I also donated kitchen items we haven't used in years and threw out clothes beyond repair, old makeup samples (I tend to stick to a few tried and true products), and beat-up shoes. I also recycled old papers and magazines.

During the cleaning process, I came to realize that I'm a sucker for freebies (I'm looking at you unused and discarded Clinique Bonus Time gifts) and hold onto too many "just in case" and "someday" items. I sometimes place a little too much emotional weight on things, particularly gifts, which makes it harder to part with them thinking I might offend someone down the line. I also feel the need to hold onto something to remember an event. For example, a brochure from Galina, IL has been sitting on my dresser for quite some time now. We visited Galina in October 2010! What the heck was I still saving it for? To scrapbook it? That's not really my thing.

After donating fives bags and a box of stuff, in addition to throwing out or recycling a few more bags of things; it didn't feel like I made a dent. A lot of things were out of sight and out of mind, tucked away in storage bins and behind closet doors. It's a lot like The Minimalists' post "Organizing is often well-planned hoarding." Though I'm happy to report that some of my clothes drawers are easier to close and there's a little more breathing room in my closet.

I still have a ways to go, especially with some unopened boxes in our basement, but I feel like I'm making progress. I'm trying to be better about buying new things and what I bring into the house. For example, I'm resisting buying all sorts of new baby things unless Monica really needs it or it would make our life that much easier.

For example, we haven't bought special baby plates or bowls yet. We received baby spoons from a shower and fed her purees out of our mugs or put food directly on her highchair tray. I'm used our current ice cube trays to freeze food cubes instead of buying "special" baby food ones.

More recently, we traded in our Ikea "media center" for a "new" Midcentry Modern buffet by MegMade. It's totally baby proof, has concealed storage, and fits the style of our house much better than the yellow Ikea shelving. There are other updates to the back room and rest of the house, but I have to save a little material for future posts ;)

It's great to be back!
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