Sunday, January 27, 2008

Finished Painting!!!!

Hallway before:

Hallway after!

Bathroom before:

Bathroom after!

Kitchen before (OK, pretend we hadn't begun scraping yet):

Kitchen after!

Isn't it bee-yew-tee-ful? With the counters, it kind of reminds me of our wedding colors! Now all we have to do is change the floor....

Man room, all set up:

And there it is! We feel like we bought another house. Everyone come visit (after we've cleaned up, of course)!!!!

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Saturday, January 26, 2008


I realize via Scarlet Lily that I may have caused confusion: The dog will not be home until May. We're just really, really excited. We're getting a soft-coated Wheaten terrier, which won't trigger my allergies.

Here's what they look like:

We're not sure exactly what ours will look like; clearly we have a few choices because they don't all look the same. It will also depend on how short we keep the coat, of course.


Nothing new to report this morning because Cousin T's father has become quite ill (he's elderly and now probably going into hospice), so, funny enough, painting our house hasn't ranked high on his list of priorities. I can't imagine why. I'll just post after everything's finished. I will mention that DH has put his den back together and it looks like an entirely different room. All we need to do now is hang some art. We have so many paintings that I suggested we keep a few up at all times and then rotate the rest, like a museum.

In other news, as of Monday I will have made it through half a year at my job. Teachers announce their retirements at the end of this week (technically) and I know of at least one who probably will, though she's keeping quite mum about the whole thing. It will just give me a little more perspective on my prospects for next year...keeping in mind that the other three new people will also vie for any openings. I never knew the world of teaching could get so political! Wish me luck.

Oh and one more thought: We're considering Hurley or Hugo for dog names (LOST, anyone?) We had settled on Barney (also from a favorite show, How I Met Your Mother), but feared too many others would think of the big purple one. No thanks. We're not TV freaks; we just like the sound of these names for a dog. I welcome your thoughts.

I recently added a reader in CA (my dad), so hello, CA! One more red dot on my reader map!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Super fast post

Back hallway looks good (sandy-color), kitchen's done today, and I have to proctor an AP US History exam. Since my office at school is so friggin' cold that I had to put on gloves yesterday, I may not work there again today. However, we ran into the maintenance guy who fixed it, I think. Always, ALWAYS make friends with maintenance and custodial staff at your workplace, people. They do more for us than we ever imagine, and they truly keep the place going. I also find this true for secretarial staff. In my opinion, over history, the king's advisor always had just as much, if not more power than the king/head. The advisor keeps his ear to the ground and can get info a higher profile person can't.

I've gotta hit the shower, and our shower head spits out water so it feels as if you're showering under a handheld gardening can in terms of pressure. We view dealing with this as our next, less expensive project.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Painting: Day 4

Front hallway, Before:

After (below)

I have to say I consider this a vast improvement. And P.S., the entire banister side of the hallway had that flowery wallpaper on it before I peeled it off. The other side had the dried out avocado color. I find this new color quite cheerful!

The back hallway does have one coat of paint on it, but it's not worth posting until it's finished. Oh, and I also made surprisingly good soup in the crock pot:

- 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 yellow, 1 orange pepper, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced in strips and cut once
- 1 large can petite diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1 1/2 cans chicken broth
- 1 can each navy and kidney beans, drained
- ~1 1/2 tsp each rosemary and tarragon
- salt for seasoning

I browned the chicken in butter first, not quite all the way through, and sauteed the veggies in butter as well to keep them crisp. Then I literally poured everything in the crock pot and set it on high for about 3 1/2 hours. In short, I used what we had in our house because we haven't gone grocery shopping, put in a quick call to Savory and Sweet for advice, and hoped for the best. Clearly it came out well, since I'm posting it. :-) The tarragon really added good flavor, and it was so full of ingredients that I didn't need to add pasta or rice or anything. Next time I'll add garlic, if I make it again.

Enjoy the day and stay warmer than I will in my frosty little office at school. They seem to want to save on the heating bill.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Painting: Day 3

While these shots are not a thrill a minute, it does show you the process (and how tedious it can get...) and how great the results look.

My gorgeous painting gear

The back "foyer", fully primed

Back hallway, also fully primed and ready to go

Kitchen, almost ready to go!

T's room: Finished!

Remember, here's what the walls looked like before (sans primer):

The whitish color is the actual paint color for the
back hallway, off T's room

Gratuitous winter shot of our pretty backyard:
It snowed a lot yesterday.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Day 2 Painting

No truly exciting pictures to post; we did a lot of plastering (OK, Cousin T did most of that) and priming, scraping walls smooth, generally getting the rooms ready for today. I hope we'll have the red room ("Red room! Red room!"...Simpsons reference...anyway...) and the kitchen done by the end of the day today. We barely watched any football--that's how busy we were. What does that tell you?? I just hope we don't have to open too many windows today to get rid of fumes, since we'll hit a whopping high of 20 degrees without wind chill. Clearly global warming has not affected my area lately.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Painting Pictures!

Stage 1: steaming off old wallpaper in the kitchen
Clearly it's good to have a tall person working on this

This was fun: This is the scoring tool I used to put tiny
holes in the wallpaper so the steam could get through.
It's called a Piranha!

Consider this a "before" picture; I hadn't even scored the
wallpaper yet but T had begun peeling.

The steamer
Stage 2: the wall post-steaming, ready for plaster and tools
to scrape the excess off
The original wallpaper and wall, found behind
the refrigerator. Very circa 1940s

As I wrote before, so many colors!

Stage 3: plastering the back room. Again, the wallpaper
was so tightly on, we didn't even bother to steam it off.

My sisters decreed that T could not call this the "man room"
until he got rid of the wallpaper; they call it the "granddad room".

Front hallway, plastered as needed in all the rough spots.
To get biblical, we had to "make the rough places plain".

Stage 4: First coat of paint on T's room! Quite a difference, yes?

We'll put another coat on today, and I think we'll also get the kitchen painted. Since we'll have a good chunk of Heirloom Red left over, we also plan to paint the tiny quarter bathroom that color. If you want to remember what the old parts looked like in full, click here, but I'll do before and after photos when it's all finished.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Reaching Out, Painting, Etc.

Hi People!

Sorry, I got sick and then I got swamped, so, whoops, no post. However, I have had a few thoughts brewing, so get ready.

While sick, I finally got the chance to read my magazines and found a really neat article in Cooking Light about something called Dinner Day, started in Pennsylvania after September 11, 2001. The creator, Jeff Smith, wanted to figure out a way to keep the spirit of community that the aftermath of September 11 sparked. He realized he didn't know his own neighbors very well except to wave hello, so his family decided to invite them over for dinner. In the words of the site:

"Invite Your Neighbor to Dinner Day was born from the desire to develop a task that every American could easily accomplish. For one day out of the year, neighbors invite other not-so-familiar neighbors to have dinner with them, and eventually, friendships are formed to increase the strength of our communities. It seems simple, yet remarkably profound. These small gestures can directly influence individuals to make a difference in their own lives, while improving communities, and initiating a ripple of trust across the nation."

Smith's son worked on sending a resolution to the Pennsylvania legislature to make it a state holiday; the resolution went through in 2002, and now the second January of every year Pennsylvanians celebrate (Invite your Neighbor to) Dinner Day. I like that it encourages people to invite those they don't really know well in order to foster relationships and begin friendships; it brings everyone a little closer together.

I thought this sounded like a fabulous idea. The concept also states that "neighbor" can mean the person who lives down the street, a co-worker, you name it, as long as it's someone you don't know really well. While it may seem awkward at first, simply explaining the concept tends to break the ice. I'm seriously thinking about doing it--obviously the official day has passed, but I just like the idea of fellowship this holiday inspires. It also makes me think about our little blog community we've fostered: I feel as though I know so many of you better just because you let me read about your lives, see your pictures, and share your thoughts with me both on my blog and your own. I worry sometimes that the cyber world actually allows people to stay in their homes and not communicate through human contact as much, but somehow I find my blog and many of the others out there exceptions. I suppose we have to find a happy medium, and I think we all do.
However (watch how smoothly I transition, if I do say so myself), I don't think we can have anyone over right now because we're painting several rooms in the house and it looks like hell. We've shoved all extra appliances and wall hangings into the living room and the dining room while we prepare and paint the kitchen, front and back hallways, front stairwell, and T's "man room". His cousin (of the same name, named after the same grandfather) has generously volunteered his time and expertise for a lot less than the $1800 estimate another painter gave us. For three rooms and a hallway? How does this guy stay in business? It seemed a little steep, so we called up Cousin T, who paints both as an artist and a housepainter. He also sculpts; we have generously volunteered to babysit any sculptures he needs to move for a while. :-)

Anyway, I do have stage-by-stage pictures but right now the memory chip converter is on a shelf in the middle of T's room with all the other furniture, covered by plastic. Have any of you painted interior rooms? Well, I know Toddler Tamer just did--and T wants a similar color red, so we'll prepare for multiple coats, as I believe you did. Wait until you see what the paint goes over. In T's den, I see where the expression "tighter than wallpaper" comes from: The wallpaper's on there so well we didn't even bother to get it off. With us working all weekend, we could potentially finish on Monday (I have the day off, so Cousin T and I can finish up), and with the help of Benjamin Moore and the good people at Lowe's, I will hopefully have great before and after shots to share!

Question: Does anyone know how many shades of green and blue exist? And who thinks up the names for these colors? I'll list some of our new favorites (names, not colors): American Cheese, Nacho Cheese, LaFonda Fireberry, Desolate,
Bunny nose Pink, Cadaver, that's one a friend made up--but it wouldn't surprise me. Who wants to stay in a room painted "Desolate"? Good grief. Give me that job--I'll have fun. We came up with Jaundice, Insane Asylum Green, Hangover Red (think of your eyes), and--sorry, I had to add it--Testicle Peach. I think the primer fumes may have influenced us. Oh, hey A--we're painting our kitchen Colorado Gray! It has some blue to it, so it'll look nice with our white appliances. We're getting new lay-'em-yourself floor tiles, too, because the hideous green-brown ones simply will not do.

So I'll get the pictures up as soon as possible to show you all the progress of our first big home improvement. Enjoy the weekend!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

2008: I resolve...

OK, so I promised a more in-depth, ruminative entry and beware: I plan to make good on that promise. No short entry here, although not too terrible

If I look back on 2007, I recognize it easily as the busiest, most eventful year of my life. I planned a wedding, got married, bought a house, switched jobs, went on a honeymoon, had one sister pass the NYS bar exam and get engaged, had another move home for the next five months (hopefully), met wonderful new people, gained too much weight, joined a chorus and rediscovered one of the true joys of my life, slowly learned the ins and outs of home ownership, watched too much TV, read some fabulous books, got to know new babies through other blogs, and generally had a good year, I have to say. I truly feel blessed with all that I received this past year--as Ouiser put it so well recently, I may not be Mr. Potter-rich (although I do technically make more money, I have quickly found new ways to spend it), I certainly feel George Bailey-rich. And I consider that more important than cash any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

So, I guess I'll make some resolutions. Mine tend to be broad, more for life than anything else. Want to help me keep them? I'll do the same for you, promise:

- Stay in shape, eat more healthily
- Now that I have an elliptical machine in my house, this will become easier. I swear I will NOT hang clothes on it.
- Read more books, watch less TV
- Ted and I do watch a lot of TV together, but I can rediscover my ability to read under any conditions and stop the mindless TV watching.
- Go more green
- With my fellow bloggers doing this, I think I'll get better, although DH still doesn't like it that I buy organic because it's too expensive. Any advice on this? He has somewhat of a point. Hopefully my eco-friendly sister, E, will help. She's going to have us create a compost
pile, so that's something.
- Work more on keeping up with friends (Keep the blog updated!)
- Take time to sit quietly, think, not rush
- To that end, not procrastinate. I know, those who know me understand that I'm trying to break a lifelong habit, but if I do it a day at a time and not beat myself up, I can do it
- Appreciate myself as a good person who has good qualities and a lot to contribute.
I think, like many of us, I end up as my own worst enemy in a lot of ways, criticizing too much, not learning from my mistakes or simply allowing myself to make mistakes in the first place.
I need to be gentler on myself.

So I think those are not only 2008 resolutions but lifelong ones--but if I take it a day, a month, a year at a time, it seems a lot more doable to me.

Here's to all of you in 2008. May your year be filled with much joy, little sorrow, and the keen ability to discern between the two. As Lois Lowry says, "It is so good to have friends who know that there is a time for laughing and a time for crying, and that sometimes the two are very close togther." I look forward to doing both with all of you in some way this year!