Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A very snowy day

Finally we got some snow! If it is going to snow, I like it to be a good one. I grew up in New York, so we went to school in the snow - I remember building a little igloo to sit in while we waited for the bus. Arounbd here, if it threatens to be cold and rain, then all bets are off. A good snow is hard to find, but we did have enough snow today to go out and play! Peanut really had a good time and so did the dog!
So we spent most of the day hanging out - baked muffins and played with toys, read some books. It made me long for just being a mom and not having any other responsibilities. For the next few months, we are continuing to work on the house, I have three jobs in addition to being a mommy, and I am continuing to be co-leader of our local Holistic Moms Network. Sometimes I just want to hide, and today was the perfect excuse to do just that! It is wonderful that here in Virginia, it is perfectly acceptable to cancel all activities because of any amount of poor weather.
I know we need to get back to the work at hand - Thursday we get some new windows and we expect our shutters and roof repair to happen sometime next week. That will mean we get to eat in a lighted dining room for the first time since we have been here! I will also finish the glass shelves on the kitchen wall and we can officially call our kitchen "done".
I'd like to put the mirror up in the downstairs bath, and get the counter top done in the upstairs bath. Sadly, I had a nice relaxing bath tonight, that should have been stress free, however it put me at eye level with the horrible caulking and grout job in the bathroom and made me want to tear it out and start over. Honey says no. At least not right this minute. It is good to have a voice of reason.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


An historic day. I am glad to be able to experience this graceful (mostly) transition of power in such trying times. Some moms and babes came over to do a little gym/baby watching exchange today and watch the inauguration. Although Peanut is a little young to grasp the impact of today, I felt like she should see it somehow, and I sure as heck was not going to take her to the mall in the cold and crowds! It was nice to be home and warm and I relished the idea of the little ones being able to roam freely and be relatively safe from construction debris!

We have continued our whirlwind of projects, and as usual, every one of them has become several by virtue of the fact that nothing is simple. Our "easy and free" sink turned out to be anything but. We realized it was leaking from the sink drain as well as at the wall, and had to take it all apart and put it back together. Turns out the sink drain had never had plumbers putty applied - that's a bulk builder for you. Also turns out our pipe that joined with the drain in the wall had no glue so it was just pushed on there. So our plumbing supply stash gets bigger, and confidence grows. Moving the sink over in the upstairs bath is looking more and more like a do it yourself job to me.

We put a door on our gym, and this was another "should have been easy, but it was not" project. We bought a bi fold closet door and had the whole thing beautifully installed on the original frame. Unfortunately, when we tried to close the door, it got stuck on the inner jambs, so we decided to remove those. Well, getting the center off of a split jamb door is really an ordeal. After pulling the parts out and ripping up some of the trim, we decided to try patching it. One side worked fine, but the other was really bad, and we would have needed a gallon of putty or patch to finish it. Then we decided to pull the whole jamb out and re frame the inside of the door with drywall. Well, we discovered that the shims behind the jamb were pieces of shingle (!) and that the frame was not plumb nor level. We did a mediocre drywall job, and got the door in, but a project that should have been less than an hour took most of a three day weekend. Ugh!
We did get some fancy new gutters and a rain barrel that really look nice! It is amazing what a clean neat gutter can do. Here are some pictures of our pretty new exteriors:

Two of my favorite things here are the fact that we no longer have a downspout going directly into the ground next to the wall of the family room, and that the spout by the sun room is attatched. Before it was just hanging there and when it rained, it flopped around as the water went pretty much directly onto the siding. i am excited about the rain barrel too. I'm not really sure how I will use the water in there, but I felt bad just letting it all go down the drain so to speak. Since we already have a well for irrigation, I anticipate being the place to be to wash cars and grow a garden this summer - it seems we have an endless supply of water!

Speaking of gardens, I got my first seed catalog of the season and it has just sent me over the edge. I am so excited about all the space I have in this yard for gardening and can't wait to get started. It also reminds me ans saddens me to think of all of the beautiful bulbs, shrubs and perennials, that I left for the new owners of our old house only to find they were ripped out within a week. I am looking at the prices of things too, and realizing that my raspberry that took a few years to get to a full producing bust goes for quite a pretty penny, as do the outrageously beautiful purple iris that were all along the fence. Well, it is time to build a new garden from scratch, and with the knowledge of many gardens before, this one will be fantastic! My biggest concern is the deer. I have heard they are very forward here, and I want to prevent them from ever getting a taste of the greens, but that entails a big tall ugly fence. I'm sure there are options - I'll have to look into it further.
So next on the list is getting the pretty roof leak pictured above fixed so we can hang the chandelier in the dining room. We also need to get and install new shutters, add some thresholds to the bathroom floors, paint the sun room and the downstairs hall, office and guestroom, finish the curtains for Peanut's room, and make a decision on our master bathroom. We need to rip it apart and then figure out who is putting it back together. I have this sinking suspicion that it might be us :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Peanut Just Played Her!

So, here's a funny story - we went out on Saturday night to Honey's cousins house for a wine tasting. On a side note, the fact that he is into wine is HILARIOUS as he has incessantly poked fun at us (well, Honey really) for getting into wine. Anyway - it was a fun reason to have a night out for us and we got a babysitter for a few hours. The sitter has watched Peanut before and put her down for naps, but never to bed at night. Well, this should be easy money, right? A quick good night and then lounging in front of the TV for the rest of the evening. Not so much. We get a couple of messages when we checked my phone at the party from the babysitter - Peanut won't go to bed. Hmmmmm. She is 1 1/2 years old. What is the deal? So we call and let her know we are on our way back now. She says that when she puts Peanut in her crib, she cries and won't sleep. OK.

So we get home, and I go upstairs to see what is going on and there is no one there. I go downstairs and they are happily playing with toys in the rec room. So we can all see what the deal is here - Peanut has decided that this sweet girl is here to play with her and there is zero chance she is going to go to bed when they could be whooping it up! She totally played her like a fiddle! She complained, the babysitter came in and picked her up, and she guided her to the toys. We talked a little about how sometimes kids do that and you need to just let them know it's time for bed and close the door. We'll have the babysitter come early to put Peanut to sleep alongside us next time I think.

Honey put her in bed and she was asleep before I left to take the babysitter home.

The best part is that she was so tired, that she slept in the next day. What a bonus! I woke up with no alarm and no baby sounds and still had time to myself before I heard a peep from her room at 8:30. That was completely unexpected and worth a little angst the night before.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Out of Jail

There is nothing I hate more than a prison sink. You know, the little square sink that hangs off the wall in the bathroom and makes it look like you only have the basics and no more. If you can't picture it, it looks like this:

So we had one of these in our old house and replaced it with a nice pedestal sink just before we moved. This lovely green one is in our lower level bathroom and we had planned on doing something about it eventually, but it was really low on the priority list. Well, today a sink and vanity came up on freecycle and we got it! It is just as small, but now we have storage below the sink and it is white which is nice as we'd like to leave some of the 70's green behind. As usual, there a is a little domino effect. I had to pull a few baseboard tiles out in order for the cabinet to sit flush with the wall. Also, you can see the pretty deep purple that the wall behind the sink was painted - can you imagine the entire room covered in purple with these green fixtures??? So now I have to patch, prime, and paint as well as cut some tiles to fit back in the baseboard area, but overall, I think it came out well. Remember, it was FREE! Here is the new sink:

Although I am really getting good at it, plumbing is dirty, dirty work. Especially taking off old plumbers putty and gunk in order to get the supply lines and faucets off. Yuk! We kept our faucet as we liked it better than the one that was on the "new" sink, and changed out the handle on the cabinet to a more modern pewter one. It is a start! Now we need a white toilet and a new light fixture and this bathroom will come to the present day! Maybe some hand towels would be good too... I don't know about any more shopping though.
We did what we think might be our final IKEA run today. I feel like I have said that before though. We returned our last few items and bought a cheap countertop for our upstairs bath - we are a little tired of the very creative but truly hideous recycled closet door counter there. While we were there, I once again looked at the stainless steel kitchen island and went back and forth over whether it would be too much steel or would work out OK in the kitchen. I am leaning towards it, but we decided to measure out the space on the floor and see what it will look like first.
There is much more to get up to speed on, but it will all have to wait! Peanut is vying for my attention, asking for "this' and "this", begging to see a "meow meow" and have me draw a doggie. A fabulous life calls!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I've never been a good housekeeper. I can be neat, and was when I lived alone, but when I became one of many I found that I was truly a slob. Even in our last house, I was still not really doing a great job of cleaning even though I was so proud of all of the work we had done. Maybe it is because that was such a tiny place it felt impossible to make it neat (except of course when we put half our stuff in storage to stage it to sell!). I am finding that in this house, the rooms that are completed make me want to keep them clean and shiny! I have actually cleaned under my grilles on the stove twice already - this from a girl who has just replaced the drip pans rather than clean them several times over (the most recent time being in our last apartment this summer!). I think it really helps to have all of the storage here too - we do have a place for everything, and as we continue to finish rooms and unpack, everything has found a forever home that is close to where we need it. We are not even close to needing attic storage, which we used for a lot at our old house.

I am actually enjoying the detail work - I primed and painted some patched areas today, put in a doorknob and changed a light switch. The little things do make a big difference - lots of our rooms look "mostly done" and these minor details make them really finished. It also feels like a lot gets done when I can check a bunch of little stuff off the list!

We used the convection oven yesterday - baked chocolate chip cookies. They came out like Entenmann's! So perfect and not brown on the bottom. Peanut loved them as you can see - I have been cooking up a storm and really loving it. If I never have another restaurant meal again, I will be OK with that. We made pizza last night that was just heavenly - so much better than any takeout! I'm back to menu planning and shopping for real food rather than things in boxes that you can microwave. It is so much cheaper too - I was stunned the first time I went "real" shopping again after all this time. It was probably a third of the cost for a weeks worth of food, and we are not eating out, so maybe even cheaper than I am calculating. Mom and her man are coming by tomorrow so we will have a pot roast - I can't remember the last time I made one! These things make me very happy! Let's see how long it lasts until I do want to order Chinese.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Clean Slate

I love the New Year. It feels like you can just start it all fresh in one day. People don't expect you to be out and about on New Year's Day since we were all up late last night. You have free reign to wear PJ's all day long if you want to. You can piddle around and clean out the old to bring in the new. For me, that means lists. I love making "to do" lists. Now, that doesn't always mean that everything on them gets done, but the act of writing each thing down and then crossing it off as it is completed is really satisfying for me. I started my lists this morning - all of the things that still need to be done in the upstairs rooms was the first list. I'm happy to say that I have already checked some things off! If you are wondering, the answer is yes - I am the kind of person that will add something to the list that I have already done just to be able to check it off. i did not do that today though - it is all newly listed and newly accomplished New Year tasks!

I also sat down and worked out a budget with Honey. what better time than when all of the big projects are winding down and we are starting to look at how we are going to meet all of our financial goals and still save for future projects knowing that I wont be working (at least for a little while) after May. That was an eye opening exercise! I'm looking at my Starbucks mini-addiction and giving it the heave-ho in the New Year. Five bucks adds up fast when it is all written down.

Last night we tag teamed a party at the neighbors - Peanut had a cold and went to sleep early, so I went over there for a bit, then came home and sent my better half over for a while. We did wind up in the same place at midnight though - have to be with Honey for the smooch! I know I've said it many times, but we really have a great bunch of neighbors. Really hospitable and nice people.

I have learned so much about our homes' sordid past from our neighbors - the stories are really crazy. Apparently, the lady who lived here really liked horses, so her husband decided to get her this huge horse statue for the backyard. They bring it to the house in a truck, feet up ala Bachelor Party, and unload the thing. He and his sons get it all situated, and she come out and starts screaming at them - how could you, what would so and so think...yadda yadda. Now that is a dysfunctional family giving heartfelt gifts. They also used to leave the sprinklers going in the backyard for days on end. I'm sure this helped with the shroom cultivation, but it also flooded the next door neighbors shed. Nice.

So here's to a new year and a new outlook for this house - I know this year will be better for it than the last! We are looking forward to a lot of chaos in 2009 - the antics of our toddler who continues too amaze and surprise us, the ongoing house mayhem and foolishness, the two additional work projects I've taken on for the next few months, and our new addition this summer. I know there is more that we have not yet considered yet as well. May you all have as much or as little chaos in your lives this year as you like!