Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holy Sh!t We Finally Got New Pillows

I know I know it's not at all a big deal but if you had seen (or smelled) our old pillows you will understand why I am so excited. The Husband bought the Perfect Pillows into our relationship and I brought a pillow that we not so affectionaly call the beaver pillow. We had a few more that we acquired over the years and they were all in pretty horrible shape. The beaver pillow was matted in a totally gross way, the perfect pillows were shreaded, and one of the random ones was missing a large section of itself. The down was also a bit musty.

They were kind of a disgrace but obviously well loved. I wanted to replace them before Thanksgiving and we had houseguests and I dragged the Husband all around the city looking for the perfect pillows. Obviously, I failed and we were stuck with the shreaded pillows until this weekend.

We were out in NJ and went up to Tice's Corner, a small upscale strip mall on the NJ/NY border. The husband headed to the Apple store and I went to exchange an extra small shirt my mom had given me (thanks for both the awesome, beautiful shirt and the vote of confidence in my bosom mom!). As I zipped past the store fronts I saw a not so bad pillow in the window.

When I got back to the Apple Store I said to the husband "I can't believe I'm going to say this but Pottery Barn has some okay pillows. Want to look?" I quickly added "There's no sales tax in NJ and they're on sale and the ones that we have are really sad those I love your ones and hate the beaver pillow". He, being a good hearted soul, agreed, and we quickly picked some new pillows (as seen below).

I'm happy to report that they look just fine, are very comfortable, and the long thin ones we got as extra good at snuggling with while sitting in the big overstuffed leather chair. They're not perfect, but they're just fine and they don't smell or look like beavers, so bonus.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

If you ask me about my year, you will most likely get a earful of belly aching about death, destruction, and Kate's very naughty nervous system. I don't advise it. In some regards 2009 was as horrible of a year as 2008 and it was piled upon the horribleness of 2008. But, if I stop and sit down in a moment of quiet reflection, many things about 2009 were quite wonderful. It is only because of those wonderful pieces that I think I survived the past few years and I can only hope that when the death and destruction slows down or hits slightly less close to home, I can somehow or another pay those good things forward and reflect good instead of just absorb it from other people.

Some great things that happened this year:

- New People were born (welcome Alex, Jacob, Cleo, etc) and more are on the way!
- I made a lot of new friends (which I hadn't done in a while)
- We spent a lot of time sitting outside on our roof laughing with friends
- We made some great changes in our house and we love spending time here, perhaps too much time!
- Some much needed traveling together and alone
- Another stellar year of friends and family
- Some incredible professional highs

I don't give much thought to resolutions. I think my last one was to buy a couch and it was 2002. I do however think a whole lot about what I'm doing and how I could do it better. In the past few years this means a focus on skills like listening and writing. Now you may be tempted to stop me and tell me that I am good at neither listening or writing and I would tell you that this was about growth, not objective measures. (Meaning I'm a hell of a lot better than I used to be). The skill that I would most like to cultivate this year is to become a better skeptic and develop more of a push back personality. I don't mean that I want to be more of a bitch but I do want to take the skills that I've developed as a mentor and editor and apply them to more situations. I guess I want to raise my standards and demand more from people. I want people to think of me as someone who tells them the truth (and not in a bitchy way).

I would also like to keep a few things going that I started this year.
- Since September I've been running with a friend of mine 2-3 times a week.
- I've been eating many more vegetarian meals in an attempt to reduce my food footprint (not because I don't love meat)
- I've cut way back on my red meat consumption

Some new resolutions:
- Start shooting more photography again
- Develop a budget and a sense of what I spend money on
- Watch less TV
- Remember everyone's birthdays, anniversaries, etc
- Find a steady volunteer thing, the coop sucks up my volunteer time and I'm not sure it's worth it

I've come to expect each year to include a major death or very bad diagnosis and I think death, like saggy tits, heart burn, and yelling at kids to get off my lawn, is one of those things that you must accept as you get older. My biggest resolution is to keep living a life that makes me happy, proud, and strong. I want to make sure that when life changes I've squeezed every bit of goodness out of it.

Now that it's been a year and a half after my dad's death, this lesson, live as much of life as possible, had sank into me and changed my world view. I thought the hole that his death left (and I'm now starting to feel the hole that Adam's death left) would never be filled and I still believe that it won't be filled entirely. But if anything is going to fill it it will be new experiences, warm summer nights, staying up too late, decadent food, incredibly good books and I can never underestimate the power of snuggling. It's the little, itty bitty things that make up a life well lived that have yanked me back and I am so grateful everyday for those who taught me about them.

So, I'm very excited about 2010. What a decade! I'm so much happier, better, saner than I was 10 years ago and I hope that the next year offers some great stuff and less not great stuff. Merry Merry Happy Happy and I promise I'll pull in those dead plants and holiday decorations very soon!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Party Like It's 1999

So Abby and I had a holiday open house last weekend. It was pretty rad. We were sitting around at 5 pm, watching the snow start to accumulate, and convinced ourselves that no one would show up. Very quickly, much quicker than we ever imagined, the place filled up, quite to the brim. It turns out that while few people wanted to take the subway or bus to our house, everyone from our neighborhood was very excited about walking through the snow and then quite content to settle in for the evening.

I've never thought of myself as someone who likes to host parties but after 4 or 5 big parties at our house I find that I really enjoy it. I enjoyed it even more this time because I got to plan the party with a pro (Abby) and we had a great mix of people.

The husband, who is wise and wonderful, suggested that people leave their boots out in the hallway, perhaps the best decision of the year!

Plant Tree

I've been yearning for a Christmas Tree for a few years now but haven't actually gotten one. This was the first year that I decorated anything for the holidays and I was determined to be festive and blah blah blah. The husband, knowing that I lose interest in things after a few minutes or a shiny thing, convinced me to wait a week before getting a tree. He, as usual, was totally right and I talked myself out of a tree in about an hour. My rational: we live on the 4th floor with tiny stairways, have no decorations or lights, and don't have a stand. I also knew that I would want a tiny one, due to the no lights no decoration thing, but the husband would want one that was in proportion to our house and it would be huge. So I bought some garland and wreaths and prepertrated my holiday "joy" on the outside of our building.

But, the need for a christmas tree reemerged when I started wrapping gifts and we decided to decorate Plant. Plant, who has always been known very affectionaly as Plant, is a lemon tree who has been with us for probably 6 years. He started off a stunted little nubbin of a tree while we lived on 15th street. The husband took over and the thing blossomed (not literally but like a malnourished child who finally gets over rickets). He very lovingly waters and cares for Plant and it has made it through 2 moves and a stint at Abby's office. This is perhaps only important because our other house plants have met horrible torturous deaths (sorry mom). Yes I do have a lovely "garden" but I can't keep a house plant alive for more than a month.

So the husband had a very definate decorating plan for Plant, a single ornament and here it is. It also became obvious that Plant is growing into a Tree and has hit some sort of adolescence. So Plant may soon be renamed Tree.

Isn't he festive?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rebellious Teenage Years

For those of you who don't know, I graduated from college in 2000. We endured these horrible questions about what our graduating class would have to endure as the "millenial" class, I'm pretty sure none of us saw this coming.

In spite of my incredible education I missed the announcement that we only had a few short weeks until the decade was over and we headed from our not so innocent adolescence into our rebellious teenage years. I've written extensively about my past few years and I thought it was high time to reflect upon some of my favorite things about the past decade. They were not necessarily invented in this decade but they rose to prominence or scale since I graduated from college, and they've made my life radically different. In no particular order, I present to you, the awkward, gawky adolescence of this millenium graduate.

* Lycra/ stretch jeans. I don't know about you, but I used to dread washing my jeans. They would go from soft and supple to hard and scratchy in a thirty minutes. While their not perfect and still take some breaking in, it's only about 30 minutes and they are good to go. For us curvy girls, this had made all the difference in the world.

* Genetic barcoding. I went to a great undergraduate institution but despite all that education my biology degree was essential obsolete due to the genetics revolution. I don't even recognize most of biology without trying really hard and one of those reasons is that most biologists, even the ones that do what I always wanted to do, are geneticists in some way or another. A quick lay definition: you can take a living creature and compare its DNA to another's in a giant database. The ability to extract the DNA is not new but the ease of comparison is startling. Thanks genetics for making the first 21 years of my education totally obsolete.

* Blogs. You're reading this so you obviously get it, right? While the internet/Internet has radically changed almost everything about how we get and receive information, few of these things enhance my life like blogs. I never knew I like looking at puppies, interior design, or some statistician named Nate Silver but I look at those things everyday, sometimes all day (that would be the puppies). Looking back I never thought I would have access to so many opinions, styles of writing and capturing images, or communities as I do now and I'm not sure what was there before blogs? Smaller locally-oriented communities? 'Zines? Graffiti? Self publishing maybe? Never before has any idiot with an internet connection been able to put their ideas out there and find an audience, even if that audience is just her mom.

* Cheap data storage. I bought a terrabyte drive for $159. That's like the aircraft carrier of storage and it's filled with thousands of digital pictures, multiple copies of my dissertation, three or four full TV series, and a few random word documents. I suspect that cheap data storage had made much of what we do online possible but for me it means not carrying around those silly square disks, now i carry round or thumb shaped ones.

* Reality TV. I'm not sure if its good or bad. It brought us Top Chef and So You Think You Can Dance but it also brought us America's Next Top Model and Hidden Potential (two time sucks that I admit to). I think these will shade on the side of good but only because of my next choice.

* DVR. Oh.So.Good. It's not the fast forwarding of commercials that is great, it's the ability to watch what you want whenever you want. And that oh so awesome moment during a sporting event when you spouse shrieks from the other room "Meg you have to see this!" AND THE GAME HAS BEEN PAUSED. Of course I never really watched TV before the DVR...

Ok, more to come.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Some Holiday Decorations

I really got in the holiday spirit last weekend and bought a whole bunch of garland, some wreaths and enough christmas lights to satisfy a sorority house. They had been wallowing in our garage all week and I finally was home, on a sunny day, and in the light and put them up. I should say that I am not crafty, I'm somewhat anticrafty, so I've learned not to do anything that requires skill, style, taste, or thumbs. I wrapped the garland, hung the wreaths and decorated the hell out of one of our window boxes (the window box lights really made my husband question this whole thing).

I may not be crafty but I am tenacious and at least my corner smells a little bit better (on a windless day if you put your face right in the pine).

Some Thanksgiving Pictures

Twee or am I getting old?

I just find my niece, nephew, and the dog that I dog sat for to be too cute. Like they could out cute a fluffy bunny or that surprised kitten on youtube. My niece spends most of her time rolling, trying to crawl and laughing. My nephew came to the museum where I work and ran around looking for owls. When he found them (as seen here) he ran back and forth going "who who who". Molly, the dog, is kind of a disaster and this is her trying to jump in the Gowanus Canal, something I don't think her owners would really appreciate.

Next thing you know I'll be wearing sweaters with angora cats on them, yelling at kids to get off my lawn, and running around shoving my phone in people's faces telling them to look at my nephew. Actually, I already do two of those things but I'll leave it up to you to guess which ones.

Updated Kitchen Pics

I resisted putting up good pictures of our finished kitchen because I wanted it to be a surprise for my Mother In Law. Here are a few. Note the beautiful magnetic knife mount. That was a hard fought battle against the tile and against the most unhelpful staff at giant box hardware store down the street. I have to admit, I would not have been sad if, in the process of pre-drilling the holes, the Husband had cracked the tiles to pieces and we had to replace the whole thing.

And here is a bad camera phone picture of the kitchen in action. It is exactly how it should be: messy from a festive evening of cooking and celebrating.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Update: Thanksgiving Still My Favorite Holiday

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Again! This was the first year we have hosted Thanksgiving and it felt a lot like a rite of passage. The food is so traditional and deeply sentimental, everyone has their own idea about how things should look and taste. Everyone's grandmother did it the right way and everyone's family tries their hardest to carry on the traditions of turkeys' past.

As we scrambled about cooking and cleaning, we realized that the reason you get all of those seemingly ridiculous wedding presents is for this type of day and this type of day alone. The giant platter, the random place settings, and the good silverware were all lovingly hand crafted for this day. No pressure or anything.

We were lucky enough to host the Husband's family. My mother in law arrived with her should-be-famous apple and pumpkin chiffon pies and my sister in law arrived with all of the sides, an army of french bread, and of course, my most favorite niece.

I had to prepare the turkey, stuffing and salad. For the first time, I was incredibly nervous about the turkey and stuffing. I make roasted birds all the time but I just couldn't conceptualize this. And stuffing, what exactly is that? (It's kind of like a bread pudding but not really). I finally settled on a few recipes and with some psychological counsel from my mom stopped hyperventilating enough to buy the ingredients.

I realized that the conversation with my mom was what this was about: the multigenerational passing of knowledge, hard fought knowledge, about these traditions. And before the cooking even began, I felt thankful for this excuse to cozy up to my mom (via my office phone) and let her download all her years of knowledge (nuzzle nuzzle).

Despite my nervousness, I up early and realized that I really did need to put the turkey in right away. Really? Right now? At 10am for a 4pm dinner? That seemed utterly absurd but that's what the directions said and if it's anything that us science types are good at it's following directions.

I got what seemed like a monster turkey, 14 pounds, and wrestled with it for a long time. I had to give it a bath, slather pesto under the skin, massage it with oil and garlic, stuff it with aromatics, and pluck a few errant feathers out of its tail. Needless to say, I got pretty intimate with the thing. I was just about to stick it in the over when I realized that the wings were sticking out in all directions.

"Yeah Meg, Happy Thanksgiving!"
"Mom, what do I do about the wings? They're sticking out and will burn. What do I do about the poor little wings"
"Alright, here's what you do..."

Needless to say, she talked me off the ledge and aside from my quizzical "You want me to make sleeves for it?" we got it done.

After the turkey wrestling match (which I won BTW), I began the only dish I knew how to make. The mashed potatoes. A bit of boiling, mashing, mustard, butter, milk, salt and pepper, they were done and resting comfortably on the sideboard.

I had to run out and take Molly for a walk but when I got back the bird was in able hands, the house was vacuumed, and everything but the stuffing and salad were set.

I don't really want to talk about the stuffing, it was fussy, underseasoned, and not worth saving. I've decided it needed mushrooms and that's all I want to say about that.

We had a somewhat magical moment with the gravy with my mom on the phone, my husband's mom at the stove, and me yelling "I know how to make a roux" as if I was trying to get the teacher to call on me. The gravy, by the way, turned out exceptionally good.

Finally, things devolved, as they always do, to a word game. This year Bananagram was introduced and was throughly enjoyed by all, except me, who happily shoved sweet potatoes and corn bread in my mouth.

It was a fine holiday, only marred by my needing to work and a stomach that limits capacity. It is still my most very favorite holiday specifically because of the tradition, the family time, and the general ability just to hang out with one another. I would also like to praise our new furniture, which performed exceptionally well. The bookcase served as a perfect sideboard and the new kitchen things did exactly what it was supposed to do.
Hooray all around and on to Christmas, I just bought 40 feet of garland, two wreathes, about a million lights, and 50 cable ties! For the first time I feel festive!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quick Recipe for you!

It's that mad mad holiday/crazy work season again and I haven't had a lot of time to compose my thoughts for the blog. I finally took some nice pictures of the new kitchen but haven't had a chance to edit them, they're coming I promise!

I did have a chance to throw an impromptu birthday dinner for my friend Michael (Happy Birthday!). This is my favorite type of entertaining, quick, easy and full of good cheer. We decided to do the dinner around 5 pm and everyone showed up at 8. Hilleary made a yummy salad with goat cheese, persimmons, pomegranate seeds and a shallot vinaigrette and I threw together a quick spinach, salsa, and cheddar fritatta. It doesn't get any easier than that menu and we made it all while everyone was sitting at the counter and I was cooking. Our wall removal/counter renovation achieved it's intended outcome, I could cook and enjoy my party at the same time.

To reinforce the easy dinner, I made the easiest dessert imaginable: Roasted Figs with Marscapone and a Balsamic Vinegar Reduction. One of my guests is diabetic so I wanted to make something rich and special without a ton of sugar and flour. You could pretty much do this with any fruit. I love treating peaches this way but I imagine pears are delicious too! You can also substitute creme freche or vanilla ice cream. I had mine without the cheese and it was just as delicious!

For 4 people

10-12 Fresh figs, halved
1 T olive oil
1/4 cup Marscapone
1/2 cup good balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Slice the figs and lay them out on the cookie sheet. Brush them with the olive oil and roast them until they start to shrivel ~30 minutes or so. As they're cooking prepare the balsamic glaze (see below). When they're done, let them cool.

When cool, spoon out a small (or large depending on taste) amount (1/8 teaspoon) of the marscapone on the top of each and then spoon over the balsamic reduction. I served them in those japanese soup spoons but they could easily be put in a bowl. I placed a candle on Michael's and we all sang him the birthday song.

Balsamic Glaze
1/2 cup good balsamic vinegar

In a small sauce pan (I use my cast iron 8" saucier), slowly heat the balsamic. Stir until it reduces by about 1/2. It should be thinner than maple syrup.

I'm thinking of making this again for Thanksgiving but adding some bacon to the top.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Like a laboradoodle

It's been one of those crazy few weeks at work only made worse by two things. The presense of outside collaborators and a wonky computer. It's hard to underestimate the pain of arriving at one's desk really early to prepare for a 9am meeting only to find out that your computer account is locked and that the IT people don't pick up the phone until 9am.

We have a set of collaborators who's only aim in life seems to be to create a jargon and after a particularily hellacious jargon creation session (that went on for 5 hours and seriously all we did was talk in jargon) my lovely boss came up with a new bit of jargon, as seen on this post it.

A collaboradoodle- its like a collaboration and a poodle.

It doesn't mean anything except to represent those lost hours of your professional life when you walk out of a meeting with nothing but the creation of a mythical "action plan" and something about as useful, a mythical poodle.

That extension written on the collaboradoodle, that's IT number just to remind myself how much working in a PC world ruins my life, one collaboradoodle at a time.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Go Yankees!

So this pictures offends me in two ways. One my sister Kate is so photogenic it's offensive. Two my husband is perfectly willing to take a nice picture with Kate.

To prove my point:

Something truly terrifying for halloween

We have this enormous closet (we call her Red on account of the red door, the hall pantry is green on account of the green door, etc) and it is truly an organized persons nightmare. On our final walk through, my father looked at Red and said "How can people have so much crap" and well, I'm ashamed to admit that it looks almost exactly the same now as it did then.

I just organized it a few months ago (yes, this is organized) and I hope that apartment therapy's next project is the giant red closet with so much stuff cure because doctor, I need the cure.

Trust me, that part looks better blurry.

Before Pictures

Well I did things a bit backwards. I wrote about my big cleaning purge in my previous post and have now found my before pictures. Note the stacking! The clutter! The general state of disarray! To be fair we are in the middle of the great wall project of 2009 but I have to admit it usually looks pretty similar to this. If you want to see the afters look at the next post.

Kitchen Cure

A few weeks ago I signed up for apartment therapy's Kitchen Cure. They send you instructions, you follow them, and send them documentation of your progress. The first week's assignment was to clean out your fridge and pantry and then wipe everything down.

This was easy and some what terrifying. We've lived here a year and a half yet we had stuff that was a couple of years old. Note to self, don't move frozen food. I also discovered things that I keep buying every time I shop. Kidney beans (for soups and chili), chocolate bars (for what ever), and fish sauce. Nice combo. I need to go on a good restocking the pantry run down to Fairway to restock the shelves for the winter. In the summer most of my cooking is from fresh ingredients but in the winter I turn to the pantry and freezer for most of my ingredients.

This morning I decided it was time to put all the stuff back that I had moved for the wall demolition. I had gotten into some bad habits and wanted to make a clean break. I also discovered how poorly organized everything was and decided to declutter and relocate (which was the assignment for week 2).

Bad Habits:
1. Not having a place to store everyday cooking items like olive oil, salt, pepper, tea, etc. These things lived on the counter top but were always making a mess and cluttering things up. It made cleaning the counter tops annoying and turned the only usable counter space into a mine field of things to knock over.

Before this was just a place for tupperware but by adjusting the shelf and moving things up a little I could accommodate the everyday items.

2. Keeping every possible kitchen utensil out on the counter. Again, cluttered and dusty. I used AT's classification system of daily, weekly, and monthly (or less) and separated out my utensils. Everyday ones went in the top drawer (garlic press, wine key, can opener, and tongs) while weekly/monthly stuff went below (spatula, silicone brush, meat thermometer, lemon squeezer), neatly organized into wooden thingys. The stuff I rarely use, it super specialty (like a lemon zester, frosting spreader, grapefruit spoon, and duplicates) went into a small bin in the pantry. I use a lot of this stuff but I decided I should sacrifice a cluttered, kind of gunky gross space, for the sake of having everything right there.

3. Stacking things in precarious ways- Just plain dangerous in a way that made me avoid using those items. I shifted a lot of stuff to this random, awkward cabinet over the stove. I realized that this is where all the stuff that we only use with company and that isn't pretty should go. Extra mugs, dishes, and some specialty dessert dishes were all nicely stacked here, out of sight but not out of mind.

This freed up a lot of room in the main dish cabinet to actually put the things were used daily and weekly in a safe, easy to reach place. We have very tall cabinets and I am always tempted to climb on the counter to avoid getting the step ladder. I hope that rearranging things will make me less tempted to do that since the things I need all the time are within reaching distance and the things that I don't need all the time, well, quite frankly if I need to get them down there will probably be guests. And those guests will make me less prone to do dangerous things.

I did the same for our very deep, tall corner cabinet. I followed the same pattern while organizing as I went along. I have a habit of putting things in things (like non matched serving utensils in the salad bowls) and both losing them and dumping them on my head while looking for something. I made a "nothing goes in anything rule" to reduce the head trauma.

As I reorganized everything, I realized that I had basically booby trapped the whole place for my husband. This may explain why he refuses to take serious pictures with me.

So blah blah blah, declutter, wash, dust, recycle. Rinse and Repeat. I should also note that I cleaned everything (with cleaning products!) and am pretty sure that nothing had been cleaned since the kitchen was finished 10 years ago. I had cleaned all of the lower cabinets after the great mouse infestation of 2008 and was very happy to see no mouse poop this time.

I'm a slob and have a tendency to leave things everywhere. I also recognize that I don't follow any organizational scheme and organization schemes basically lead to losing things, tucking them into places where they will never see the light, and general mayhem and clutter. I have switched to a bin system for most of my organizational needs. This means that instead of folders and filing cabinets, I have switched to bins and piles. I know, it makes my accountant and work colleagues very nervous, but if I just put it in a contained pile I won't outsmart myself.

My work piles

In the kitchen, the bin system sort of gets morphed into the "put everything where I can see it and position it so that I can't put anything on top of it" system. If it's in the back I should consider it lost so nothing goes in the back unless I can see it peeking out the top.

So what's one to really do with a tall, deep closet for a pantry? Well, I hid a lot of stuff that I don't mind losing until I need it again. The blender, toaster, wine chiller, and growler bottles. Those are seasonal so they'll come out from hiding. The big green closet didn't really need that much rearranging. What it actually needed was a serious scrub.

The previous owner left all sorts of stuff there including sample granite tiles, a very large cutting board, and tons of other little crap. Word to the wise, no one ever wants your crap so do them a favor and get rid of it. When I lifted up the crap I realized he had used it to cover this disgusting sticky mess. I tried everything to clean it and ended up just putting the tiles back over the slick and stacking things on them. A good scrub and vacuum (all the dust from the electrical work) and it felt a lot better and now has enough room to house the liquor which had been living in the husband's office.

I also used this time to decide what I needed to repurpose or buy. A few more bins (I've seen these great lucite ones) and a spice rack solution is really all I need.

So my few simple rules:
1. Organize by amount of use
2. Don't hide anything
3. Don't stack anything unless you only use it when people are around to supervise its removal
4. Things do get dusty when they're not in cabinets
5. Organize by weight, put heavy things down low, lighter things up high
6. Don't booby trap the house
7. Don't over organize
8. Don't buy organizational things until you know you need them. The corrollary to this is don't buy things at Ikea just because they are cute. You will end up buying organizational things just to organize your cute, miniature, useless things and repeat the cycle.

We have a lot of stuff. I can imagine that my "after" pictures look a lot like people's before pictures. But I've spent a lot of time trying to reduce the amount of stuff I have while pretending that I'm not a pack rat and more organized than I really am. So I've embraced my pack rack (and my pack rat spouse) in an attempt to only be able to mess up the things that I use on a daily basis and reduce the clutter that drives everyone crazy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I've been laid up inside with a case of the "blahs" all weekend long. We've both lounged around, sipping tea, eating left over chinese food, and watching bad cable movies since Friday after work. The weather is horrible, low 40s with rain and clouds like the inside of a dirty dishwasher, and it took the promise of a soy decaf cappuccino hand delivered by my husband to get me to go outside.

So to warm myself up, I've been staring at some pictures I took last weekend of the sunlight bearing down on our displaced kitchen goodies. The yellow slippers were a wonderful christmas gift from my sister last year. When I first opened the box I was not inspired by them but as soon as I put them on they became one of my favorite items in the world. Who wouldn't want incredibly warm, silly yet stylish yellow slippers with pompoms? They make me giggle and remind me that my sister has incredibly good taste. I should have her pick out all my stuff, she picked out my prom dress and my most wonderful cocktail ring, so why not?

The final picture is of some tortilla chips held closed by an unused mouse trap. My husband was looking for a way to close the bag and picked this instead of the various clips and rubber bands scattered around the place. It is stuff like this that makes me love him, he has a practical whimsey that is just so darn endearing.

The repurposed mouse trap + the slippers + last weekend's sunshine gives me the warmies.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bye Bye Wall

Last week Frank, Bernie's friend, came to take down the wall between the living room and kitchen. It was a relatively quiet and orderly demo, not at all like you see on the DIY channels. There were no sledge hammers only careful deconstruction of some original baseboard, giant actual 2X4's, and quirky drywall.

We're still working on the design for the peninsula and are trying to maximize seating area and storage while retaining the flow of the entry way and room. The top will be butcher block and we'll have some open shelving for pots and pans underneath. I think its going to be pretty great and I can't wait to have the whole project done. I have some other small projects on the brain but I'm pretty sure the Husband needs a break.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Much Doing at Our House

I think the husband has reached his breaking point. First the bookshelves, then the paint, and now the wall removal and minor kitchen renovation. When ever I suggest a new project he just looks at me, signaling me "not to push it". We embarked on this kitchen project when we first met Gabe, the incredible carpenter who did our bookshelves.

There is this random wall in our kitchen. Okay, I should back up. We thought it was random because it wasn't load bearing, blocked a nice flow into the living room, and made it very awkward to have people over when you're cooking. So we decided to bring it down and put in a counter top and some shelves. Gabe draws some stuff that we like and I start lining contractors up.

Bernie, my new favorite electrician, came this morning and just left. He had to do a bunch of stuff that involved poking very large holes in the wall. We felt a little weird watching but the Husband asked permission and Bernie very patiently walked us through what he was doing. Electricity scares the heck out of me (a totally rational and important fear to have) and watching him figure it all out was like taking the reasoning part of the GREs all over again. Anyway, we had a lovely day with Bernie and all of our lights and outlets are moved and back to their normal functional state.

One Wednesday, Frank, Bernie's friend, is coming to take down the wall and fix the sheetrock. Then, we have to make some decisions about what goes in its place.




The after pictures don't really show you anything but the holes in the wall. According to Bernie we couldn't have picked a "more happening" wall in terms of electricity. The electricity comes from the box, across the ceiling in the kitchen, then down the wall and spreads out to the rest of the entire house. Cutting the power to the wall knocked out most of the living room, dining room, and hallway. All of that, and the creepy giant transformer for the undermounted lighting, needed to be rerouted and repositioned.

My guess is that you never really know what you're going to get in an old house. Bernie seemed fond of new construction where everything was obvious but then seemed to relish the challenge of the maze of wiring in older houses. Regardless, we were very lucky that there were only minor surprises and that the previous renovation had been done correctly. I kept expecting disaster but felt like we were in good hands if it occured.