The New House … Before

We moved into our new house in mid-February (our first Phoenix place was just a rental, this one is the real deal) and I finally got around to putting the first floor plan into CAD.  So here she is (with a little furniture because why not):


The house was built in 1986 in a stucco-land neighborhood in an area of Phoenix known as Ahwahtukee.  From the front, this beaut is all garage:

it's all garage

This is not the aesthetic we were going for at all but it is next to a mountain so we overlooked it.  Plus, how often does one sit at the end of one’s driveway to observe one’s house?  Not often, one would imagine.  Oh, how I would love to paint this house one day and put it out of its tan misery.

lr 1

These images are from the Zillow listing and are even fleshier-beige than it is in real life.  Realtor photos kill me.  The nice thing about this house is that the main living space is very open.

wet bar

The wet bar’s days are numbered.  The kitchen sink is literally steps away, why do we need a mini-sink here?  I have plans to wall this nook off and turn it into a proper pantry.


Another living room view with the glorious fans.  This image is a little skewed, I don’t think it is showing the true size of the room.  The sliders on the right go out to the patio and the backyard and cut off on the left side of the photo would be the door to the laundry room and passageway to the garage.

dr nook

The breakfast nook with the octopus wrought iron light fixture.  Off to the side you can see the door to the powder room that is under the stairs.  We had to pry that phone off the wall and patch the hole it left ….

kitchen 1

And … an itty bitty kitchen!  That’s why I’m planning for a wet bar to pantry conversion because there is not enough room in all these cabinets for food and plates and pots and pans.  Not to worry, we’ll work it all out!  The wall on the other side of the fridge (not shown) is where the old-school phone was.

hot tub view

Here’s one corner of the backyard, the “sandbox” where the hot tub lives.  JT and I visited a material yard the other day to look at some pavers.  Some day soon that sand will be history just like the wet bar.  The hot tub just needed a little work to get up and running and was doing great until a few weeks ago when it died.  We need to call our hot tub guy up again and get it checked out.  Ironically enough he lived in STL for a time and worked at Mississippi Nights back in the day.  It’s a little big world.

the sandy beach view

More of the backyard and the mountain beyond, standing from the vantage point of a little out from the back patio.

backyard from corner

And this is the whole backyard from the vantage point of the back corner where we triangle into the mountain preserve.  It’s a lot of rock and it gets full, baking hot desert sun all day so we have yet to come up with a different landscape plan.  At this point, we have enough ideas up our sleeves to keep us busy for a while.

So that’s the yard and first floor – I started on the CAD plan of the upstairs but I haven’t made it too far – this house is all different shapes jutting each and every way – the floor plate for the two floors doesn’t line up at all and it means more work to decipher everything.  It’s a big change from our 800 SF brick bungalow that was a little more straightforward.  However so far life in the desert and especially in our new house has been great for JT and me.  Next weekend when we have the long weekend and some more free time I’ll take some “during” shots of our first floor as it is now!

Have a great week and happy stuffing day!  Cheers – CT

The Wright Stuff

Okay, sorry.  Probably everyone has used that blog title when referring to a Frank Lloyd Wright house.


Last Tuesday in the midst of project deadlines and proposal writing, a few of my colleague and I had a chance to visit the David and Gladys Wright House.  Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as a retirement home for his son and daughter-in-law David and Gladys and built by David himself as acting G.C., the house and land is so amazing.

The house and guest house sit on 6 acres that is in the middle of a bustling area of town called Arcadia.  It’s a bit like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia – to visit the house now, you drive down Camelback, a busy street, turn into the Camelback Church of Christ parking lot and open a door in the wall onto this oasis of peacefulness.


There is a long and complicated back story as to how the house came to be open to the public and not demolished.  Tonight there is a vote at the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission to see what its future might hold.  Above is an image of a 3D scan the current owner has done to see about the state of the structure.  You can see all the little blue dots are the scan points and the round light circles are were the tripods were during the scan.  Modern technology is pretty cool.  You can also see the pool in the courtyard that is currently filled in making its ghostly appearance.


This house is like a ship – all the storage is built in and everything is elegant and functional.


Detailing – look at that hearth grate – there are two identical – one in the main living space and this one in the master bedroom.


And above, the view from the master bedroom – you can see the front door tucked in above the bougainvillea and beyond a perfectly framed shot of the head of the camel for which Camelback Mountain is named.  Not too shabby.


The guest house is strikingly modern for a house built and designed in the early 50s. I love the current landscaping although all the lawn is a bit lush for this neck of the woods – our new house has only desert landscape “xeriscape” which is a lot easier to maintain – but look at all the blue stone and carefully placed agaves around the guest house – love it.


Here’s a panoramic of a bunch of architects and designers taking an architecture nerd break on the roof of the house.  What a view.  What a breath of fresh air on a hectic Tuesday.

You all have to visit the David and Gladys Wright house on your next trip to Phoenix and see it for yourself.  Photos don’t do it justice.  And if the vote tonight and zoning things and whatever else go well, there will also be an underground education center, café and gift shop at the site as well.  I hope that’s soon!  Cheers – CT

PS – Good news – the David and Gladys Wright house was recommended as a historic landmark!  See more here.  Congrats to all who have fought so hard for this house.

PPS – This is humorous to me: FLW’s subtitle for this house was “How to Live in the Southwest” … you know, in an architectural gem in the sky with a view of a magnificent mountain and ten acres of citrus groves.  Sounds great!

A few befores …

I thought I could find a few more before pictures of the master bedroom but I think all the photos taken during scorpion invasion and the subsequent painting/drop cloth/really tall ladder takes up the whole room phase got deleted from my camera roll.  However I did dig up a few gems from the realty listing.

Master Bed 01

See that fleshy beige wall paint!!!  And the vertical blinds – those were the first thing to go and it was very satisfying to throw them off the second floor balcony.  JT also updated all of the outlets and switches to be nice and clean and white to match our new wall color.

Master Bed 02

That fan!  There are a total of five of the same mildly offensive but oh-so functional Hunter fans throughout the house.   I’ve started the search for a perfect replacement and have yet to find one I really love ….

For comparison ….Bedroom 2

The bathroom …. which has the same light fixtures, mirrors, sinks, faucets, granite and cabinets as the other full and half bath in the house.  A real first world problem I have is that I HATE my granite.  Or maybe I just hate it in context of everything else that is going on.  At any rate, I have plans for this space ….

Master Bath

So there’s a little sneak peek into some “befores”.  I’ll have more and a floor plan soon!  Cheers – CT

Master Bedroom Tour

Before we moved in, we painted the bulk of the first floor Benjamin Moore “White Dove”.  We stopped the paint at the corner at the bottom of the stairs before it turns and goes up into the two volume space.  So for a while, downstairs was gorgeous gleaming white and the upstairs was still that dingy, fleshy beige that drives me crazy.

Part of living in the desert means that all of the creepy crawlies that live outdoors would much rather live in your home.  And the creepy crawlies out here are so much more terrifying than in the Midwest I have found.  The long segue I am trying to make here is that we ended up moving into the guest bedroom for a time after we discovered a few scorpions living in our master bedroom.  There was one in JT’s shoe which was stored in one of the under-bed drawers and another hanging out on the inside of the shower curtain one morning.  Not cool.  While we were waiting for the pest people to come back, we decided to go ahead and get the master bedroom painted.  So here it is …

Bedroom 3

We have nice high ceilings in this room and so we decided to accent the end wall with Sherwin Williams “Porpoise” which was a color we had in our STL house as well.  I guess I just really love that color – it’s a pretty perfect warm dark grey.  The canvas artwork has moved with us too and lived in a few different rooms before ending up here.

Bedroom 2

I have a love/hate relationship with the mirrored closet doors.  They’re so functional yet so …. tacky.  They do help bounce the light around the room.  You can kind of see in the reflection that we have the Koehler white vinyl rocker/lounger in the corner for a little sitting/clothes piling area.  JT got that chair from Goodwill during college and I think we may have it forever.  I love it – there’s nothing tacky about it!   You can kind of see beyond that the master bedroom opens into the sink area of the master bath and then around the corner and behind closed doors is the water closet and a large tub/shower.

Bedroom Outtake

Here’s an outtake from my little photo shoot – Shenanigan was done with being photographed and wanted O-U-T of the bedroom.  Tough luck little dude.  The blue duvet cover and pillow shams came from West Elm about two years ago.  Next steps for this room is a proper headboard – we still haven’t had one of those in almost 11 years of marriage!  It would also be nice to upgrade our bedside tables and lamps as well at some point.

Shenana Snores

Above is a little scene from this A.M. – Boo got scared of something in the night and jumped up on the bed.  The dogs are getting older with creakier joints so they actually don’t get up on the bed with us as much anymore, which is probably good for both the husband’s and my back.

Sophie Yells

Not to be left out, I also caught Sophie the dog mid-yawn this morning.  You can see how the carpet has some Sophie spots on it.  JT and I would love to replace the carpet for hardwood or maybe an LVT floor as Miss Sophie has left her mark a few places when she wasn’t feeling well with a UTI.  We’ve rented a steam cleaner twice but haven’t had any success getting fully rid of the telltale stains.

The best part about this house and especially the master bedroom is the view – there’s a balcony looking out over the mountain.  We picked up some cool chairs from Lowes and JT and I sit out there some mornings, sip our coffee and soak in the scenery.


Below is a better view out the sliding door and over the balcony.  It was a rare(r) rainy day the other day and like a true Phoenician, I took a photo of the rain.


You can kind of see the hot tub below on the left and the hammock is hanging out down there.  JT has been itching to find some pavers and fill in the large “sand box” we inherited and create a nice outdoor living room.

So that’s the master bedroom in the new house, a little sanctuary in the sky.  There’s still work to be done in there (we need a non-ugly fan STAT!) and I didn’t show more photos in the bathroom part of the suite on purpose – it’s a work in progress but we’re loving it.

Hopefully this week we’re going to finish up a little laundry room renovation and I also have some more of a room-by-room tour of the new house.  The hot weather has finally left Phoenix and I’m starting to get my home project mojo back.  Have a great week!  Cheers – CT

1978 Fender Telecaster

The guitar in this post is available (although probably not for long) in my Reverb store. Check it out along with my other offerings at Thompson Guitar & Thrift by clicking this button:

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All around the guitar-nerd thunder-dome I exist in, I hear a lot of bad-mouthing of guitars made in the 1970’s. I definitely get some of it, and anyone can see it in the bizarre offerings from Gibson especially in that era. Quality control standards and just the sad state of the economy in general are often cited as reasons for these “less-than” products.

I’ll admit I wasn’t around in the 70’s (CT and I were both born in 1980), so I’m quite honestly not sure what the big deal is? For example, I found this 1978 Fender Telecaster recently. This guitar is absolutely solid, totally playable and has that vintage look/vibe.

1978 Fender Tele in awesome brown finish

1978 Fender Tele in awesome brown finish

This is a great guitar that (as a player) I would put up against any pre-CBS era tele.

1978 Tele Close

So much value is placed around the pre-CBS (before CBS bought out Leo Fender) Fender guitars. So much so, folks like me (and likely you) have an almost impossible time buying or even playing them. The average guitar player, and certainly the average musician just don’t have the tens of thousands to get our hands on one.

What we do have however for vintage Fenders is the 70’s era guitars. As much trash talk as I have heard about them, I have yet to come across one that hasn’t been a delight to play. I played a 78 refinished tele for years and absolutely loved it. They look every bit as vintage, have the same tone as those a few years older, and are guitars that you wouldn’t think twice about bringing to a bar gig.

So what the hell is it exactly that makes them so inferior? Cheaper components?These were guitars made by hard-working Americans who I’m sure took great pride in what they were doing, and did the best with what they had. I for one would like to send my thanks out into the universe to those folks who made some great guitars. Not all of us think they’re sub-par.

1978 Tele headstock

To Toronto and back

Hey all —

What’s been going on?  In the last few weeks I voyaged to Toronto and back all for a lighting factory tour.

JD and CT at Metalumen

Did you know LEDs use (man-made) sapphires as the base?  That’s why LED is such a blue light.  We learned that the future of LED involves a switch to a purple base for a more natural appearing light.

Metalumen LED boards

Above are some LED boards being manufactured.

We didn’t actually end up in downtown Toronto like I thought we would, the factory was in Guelph, Ontario and the first few nights we stayed in a nice hotel (the Delta) in Guelph.  The last night we moved to a Holiday Inn in Kitchener to be closer to Oktoberfest.


The majority of the tour group went to a farmer’s market and shopping place on the last day of the trip but my lighting rep host and another pair of travelers and I slipped away, rented a car and went to Niagara Falls.  It was great to see it from the Canada side.

View from the restaurant

We went out on one of the boats and rode pretty close (but not under) the Falls.

Group at Niagra

We also stopped in nearby Niagara on the Lake to try ice wine.  I had never heard of it before – it is a sweet dessert wine that is made with grapes after they have frozen on the vine.  It was super yummy but I didn’t bring a bottle back as I was trying to travel light.  It might have been better if I had purchased something because the customs agent who questioned me on the way out was very puzzled as to why I had not done any shopping.  (See getting out of Canada was difficult below.)  Note to said customs agent – not all women who travel only do so to shop.

It was a whirlwind of a trip (getting out of Canada was somewhat difficult and we had to really RUN through the airport to catch a connecting flight) and I am lucky to have been invited.  My host paid for everything and I got him and the other lighting reps talking about all of their client-schmoozing adventures.  They have basically had to become enablers in the name of business.  Beyond drinks and expensive dinners, some of their clients demand strippers or hookers and the reps end up baby-sitting a bunch of spoiled  and often extremely drunk specifiers.  (That was not me, I stayed relatively sober and my host only had to indulge me by buying a plate of French fries at the bar after each buffet dinner where there was nothing vegan but salad …)

It makes me wonder if this is the old school of doing business (the Donald Trump school we might call it) and if there isn’t a new school on its way in.  I was one of only a few women on the trip which I’m sure changes the dynamic but we still had a couple of older guys cab out of Oktober fest in search of a strip club.  More than anything though, I think we should all consider thinking about value-added opportunities rather than just additional value items.  What on earth are you rambling about CT?  The other day JT and I met with our financial planner.  She graciously brought in lunch and even catered to my particularity and had a vegan option and even a vegan cupcake for desert.  This was great but I think I would have much preferred a value-added exchange where perhaps she came to our house to meet rather than providing us with lunch.  It seems more and more of our business is being driven to after hours activities where we’re trying to forge connections with potential clients over cocktails.  I would rather work hard and give them a great project than schmooze with them in the evening.  Maybe that’s just me.  Is anyone else seeing this in their work life?  This may be just normal growing pains as my employers push me towards project management while I try to dig my heels in and stay in the creative realm.  Dunno.

At the end of the day it’s all first world problems.  I was given a free trip (and a bonus day off work) to travel to a cool destination and learn some things and now here I am quasi-complaining about it.  It just seems like we all have a long way to go on this work/life balance thing and it’s not just about personal decisions – the whole corporate culture needs a shift in my opinion.  But that’s enough about opinions.  It’s Friday.  Time to head out into the weekend and live up the life side of things!  Cheers – CT

Fiver Floats

(PS – Above is a Canadian $5 bill.  It’s some kind of plastic or polymer or something.  It sat in the beer for a few minutes and then I wiped it down and then the nice Canadian gentleman showing me this party trick put it back in his wallet.  Also the exchange rate was such that everything was about 25% of a discount so maybe some shopping wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all.)

Charvel Model 2 Project PART TWO

So I completed the Charvel Model 2 project! Totally awesome guitar, but since I started building my own superstrats (look for a future blog on this) I decided to sell it in my Reverb store. It’s on sale the weekend of October 8-11, 2015 if you’re interested- just use code GUITAR1 at checkout to save an extra 6%. Check out this and everything in my store by clicking this button:

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Finished and in original case

Finished and in original case

Since it was gutted and the original tremelo was destroyed, the list of work is pretty long:

-Replaced original (and destroyed) Kahler tremolo with a Wilkinson (which fit the original bridge posts)

-Added Guitar Fetish VEH (Vintage Extra Hot) Brown Sound pickup

-New gold-plated Switchcraft input jack

-Push-pull split-coil pot

-All-rosewood volume knob

I gotta sat that guitar fetish pickups are where it’s at. This VEH has this amazing tone- just think of a hot PAF humbucker, or Eddie Van Halen’s mystery pickup he had on his frankenstrat. I loved this pickup so much I bought a white one for one of my superstrats (again- look for a future blog post).

Rosewood volume knob

Rosewood volume knob

The push-pull split coil pot was a first for me. It’s a complex wiring job, but I knew that the variance it would add to the tone would be necessary. With the split coil, simply pull the knob up and the hum bucker is now a single coil. It really sounds great and even with the single coil engaged there is minimal to no noise. This is such a great thing to have with a single-pickup guitar.

Completed wiring for push-pull volume pot

Completed wiring for push-pull volume pot

The brand new Wilkinson 2-point tremolo has a big block and keeps nearly perfect tune. What’s great about the Wilkinson is it matched the two posts that were there for the old tremelo. No drilling or filling. This is also great for anyone who would want to find an original Kahler tremelo, as it would fit right back on there.

Wilkinson tremolo mounted on original Kahler mounts

Wilkinson tremolo mounted on original Kahler mounts

This was a really great project, and a real treat to play if you’re into Kramer, Jackson, Charvel or Fender super strats.

Check out more pictures of it, along with a short demo video of me playing it at it’s listing here.