Wednesday, December 30, 2009

utter randomness at the end of the year

I. The Kitchen.

Around this time last year, I had finally had enough of the kitchen cabinets. They were cute, at first. But they smelled a little mildewy, and the wall cabinets in particular were inconveniently short, with shelves that couldn’t be adjusted. There was also a microwave that dated from…maybe the early 80’s at best.


Before (May ‘07)

If you know anything about me, you know that it was a personal milestone when I learned the difference between a flat head and a Philip’s head screwdriver. Translation: I am not handy.

So imagine what an accomplishment it was to figure out which IKEA cabinets would fit in our kitchen as a replacement. That’s right: I used a tape measure, and graph paper, and looked at product lists, and figured out we needed two of these, and two of those, and one of those, and maybe one of those, and four or five of those…

We called Michael – that’s Deck Michael, to blog fans – and he said he’d install them for us. So last January, we rented a moving truck, and went down to New Haven, and bought everything. (I’ll make the story short and not describe the New Jersey IKEA trip, and the two subsequent trips to New Haven to pick up out of stock stuff and return extra bits.)

Mind you: aside from helping move boxes around, I barely lifted a finger when it came time to install all this stuff. Kevin and Michael did all the Actual Work. Yay! Thanks again, guys!

So, by popular demand from the out of town crew, here’s where we are today. Sorry for the mess, I didn’t clean up first.


After. (Yeah, the stove was the very very first thing we did – we replaced it a month after I took the “before” picture.)


And turning slightly to see the other side…we have not only taller wall cabinets, but this really cool pantry thingy (right next to the fridge) that absolutely rocks. We have way MORE room now, and I’ve been able to bring lots of stuff out of storage. It’s a small kitchen, but super efficient, with plenty of room for everything we like to use and do.

II. The Pope

Did you know that you can get a bottle opener with the Pope on it?


Who knew, right?

III. Would you like to see another picture of the deck?

deck with ear

I thought so.

IV. Anything else, Sarah?

It’s been shockingly cold lately, plus I had a cold – then there’s the matter of the Nutella Kevin gave me for Christmas, which I started in on yesterday. I need to get back into running, is where I’m going with this.

Monday, December 28, 2009

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow


Here’s this morning’s view from the bedroom.

Happy sigh.

It was warmer and rained yesterday, which allowed all of the slush on the parking area between the house and the garage to melt. Then it froze up overnight. Then it snowed a wee bit. The result is a pancake-flat layer of ice, hidden by a deceptive layer of innocent snow. Absolutely treacherous. I nearly face-planted twice on my way to the top of the driveway as I went out to the mailbox this afternoon. And that was with the YakTrax on.

Clearly, I should resume my sloth-like activities – it’s safer that way.

Friday, December 25, 2009

gravitational challenges here on the home front

Our neighbors had us over for Christmas dinner. They have a bunch of kids, several of whom have a bunch of kids – so it was a fun and crowded scene.

We all contributed dishes. I made pearl onions in cheese sauce (a family tradition), and a couple of sweet potato pies. Since there were three or four daughters/daughter-in-laws also attending, there was no shortage of desserts. And since our neighbors are clearing out in their RV for five months and leaving in a couple of days, they weren’t in a position to keep all the leftovers. Thus,we were able to sneak home with one of our pies.

Now, what with it being winter and all, it’s pretty icy around here. Just to navigate the walk through the yard, we were each wearing YakTrax on our boots. So I walk in the door with Pie #2 and set it on the counter so I can negotiate with my boots and my jacket and my box of kleenex and my little bag with my street shoes and, and, and.

Kevin comes in a second behind me with his own stuff to deal with: the basket with leftover onions in cheese sauce, the flashlight, etc. etc.. Not realizing I had placed a pie on the counter, he swung the basket down and WHAM – knocked the pie off onto the floor.


Like so. Face down.


I started to laugh so hard I thought I’d be stuck with the hiccups for the rest of the night. We swung into Emergency Pie Rescue Mode.


And here we are: Pie Puddin’

merry christmas!


I’d say Kevin knows me pretty well.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

nearly there on the deck railings


Michael and Gary won’t be much longer on this project! This part is moving fast. In one day, they installed all seven strands of cable on the north and east-facing sides of the deck. Tomorrow they’ll work on the stair railings. After that…the deck is done.

Santa has visited us early and left a wrapped present for me in the refrigerator.  I have a cold. That’s the news from here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

it’s beginning to look a lot like christmas…

100_1179OK, as of a couple of days ago, the guys were working on adding the cables to the deck railing. It was shockingly cold: –2, according to the control panel for the heat exchanger. I loaned Michael my balaclava, which he proceeded to fill with cooties.


By the end of the week, they’d gotten three cables on one side of the decking. Two more sides to go, seven cables per side. They also fiddled with the support railing at the bottom, along the stairs.


We put up a tree, as noted earlier. It’s slightly crooked, but that’s not the tree’s fault, that’s our fault. Presents are slowly accumulating under it. Tomorrow, Santa will go shopping for more goodies.


The cats think that surely, I have something more interesting to do than sit at the computer. They haven’t been outside in a couple of days (they’ll go out if it’s cold, so long as there’s plenty of sun; no luck lately). So they’re bored.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

mirror in the bathroom, please talk free

Hey, good lookin’. Yep, that’s me with the wet hair. You should see some of the outtakes.


Oh, fine, here you go, an outtake:


Enough of me; let’s have a look at the cable tensioners that Michael and Gary put up today.

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Pretty cool, no?

Also in today’s news, Steve (one of the original crew – the one who built the stairs and the rafters) was here – he put up the bathroom mirror for us as a favor, since Kevin, the Christmas tree, and the tree stand got into a pitched argument, the result of which was Kevin’s shoulder being sent to the penalty box. Steve was really here to finish venting the drier to the outside. Because it’s cold out, and I’m lazy, I don’t have a picture for you.

Wanna see a picture of Charlie? Isn’t he cute?


Yeah, I know, I cut off the top of his head. Today is clearly not my best picture-taking day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

sudden progress!

The camera batteries, once threatened with replacement, rallied, and allowed me to snap a few photos today. Here’s where Michael and Gary left things as of yesterday with the deck:


100_1138 We have stairs! I believe they are waiting for the cables and tensioners to come in.

As to what that will look like, well: last night I sent a peevish email to the builders complaining about how they don’t love us anymore, and what do you know, they showed up today and…


drum roll please…




They installed the cables on the indoor stairs!






No word yet on the various bathroom accoutrements. And they’re partway through venting the drier to the outside.

Monday, December 14, 2009

oops, the camera batteries died.

...leaving me speechless, apparently.

This is what my heart longs for these days:

That's right. A towel rod. Actually, THREE towel rods. And a robe hook. *sob!*

Saturday, December 12, 2009

windowsills performing as designed.

Our original plans were to have windowsills - ordinary windowsills. Then we decided to widen them and put books under them - not just for the obvious storage benefits, but in order to provide spaces for the cats to sit. Victory: it's working. Charlie will generally only sit ON something, so we put some fabric down for him. Isn't he handsome?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

deck stairs…



Behold, a pile of snow on the newly-shoveled deck.





Please, let that be from the solar panels – otherwise, how can we take advantage of today’s sun?


100_1123 Looking up, I see that yes, the panels are clear. Whew.


While dodging dumps of snow from above, Michael and Gary are busy putting risers on the stairs.

100_1125 I’ve just come in from my investigations. I’m in the ‘sun space’. That’s snow on the floor: good choice to go with concrete here.

100_1126 Charlie agrees.


100_1128I picked up the shower curtain rod today and took The First Shower in the New Tub. It was awesome. The shower head is the size of a salad plate. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

where are my manners?

My apologies – it’s later than I thought; I was going to show you the new lighting fixtures. Without further ado:


…and after.

The funny thing about these lights is, usually, you want to watch out for things like fluorescent lights, and green bathrooms. They presumably make you look like death warmed over, leading to all kinds of mayhem when it comes time to put on your makeup.

Well, let’s see: a) I wouldn’t know, as the mirror isn’t up yet. b) BWAH HAH HAH! I’m not sure I even own any makeup. Wait, I lie – there’s a brand new eyeliner pencil, still in its wrapper, in my car somewhere. I found it in the parking lot of…wait for it…the lighting store!

It was, no doubt, God’s way of telling me not to put fluorescent lights in a bathroom painted green.

But here’s the thing: that green absolutely POPS under these lights. It’s gorgeous. Neither picture above does it justice.

There’s a ceiling fixture too, but that picture didn’t turn out well at all. Let’s just grab the picture from the store:


other light

As for the hallway outside the bedroom:

100_1117   It matches the two pendants in the bump out. Squeal!








Here’s how we spent today:

100_1120 100_1119

Maybe 15 inches of snow? Kevin shoveled for HOURS. I also shoveled, probably for…an hour and a half? Less than half, by far, of what Kevin shoveled. Remember that bathtub? It got a good workout when he got in. I was sort of worried he would fall asleep in the tub and not wake up til he was shivering cold, but I’m just a worrywart.

I called around and got someone – I hope and pray – to plow us out next time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Deck stairs commence

100_1105   My blogging fiend cousin Emily convinced me to try Windows Live Writer as a mechanism to create posts: this will be my first attempt. Which is ironic, since this project is winding down.

100_1103 100_1104

Already, I like how the photos upload, and how much easier it is to get them to appear next to each other. But wait: you couldn’t care less about that, could you. You want to know what’s going on.

Deck stairs, that’s what. There will be six stringers: three sets of two. Originally, the guys were thinking of drilling holes for sonatubes to keep everything well-rooted, but the revised strategy is to just make everything super heavy and hope that it doesn’t wiggle with frost heaves.

100_1113 100_1114

Let’s enjoy the views of snow in the woods behind the house, as seen from the stairwell windows. That snow, incidentally, wreaked havoc with our housewarming party plans on Saturday. The intrepid few – those who REALLY love us, as opposed to those other, wishy-washy friends of ours – managed to make it. And a good time was had by all. No pictures, though – I was too busy enjoying myself to remember to document it. We have a ton of wine and cider left over. And beer.

As part of getting ready for that, we spent quite a while over the past several days hanging prints.


…going up the stairs…





Today, Terry’s coming to install the last of the lighting fixtures. I’ll save that for tomorrow’s post.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

but what does it look like from the outside?

My fanbase informs me that there aren't enough pictures from the outside. Okay, okay!

We'll start at the front of the house and do a walk-around.

OK. We are facing north. This is the original house. You can just see the solar panels peeping over the roof to the right. That's new siding, behind which is a fat layer of insulation.

Ta-dah! The little thing with a window in it is the bulkhead. Originally, that was going to be removed, but we hit ledge, which led us to forego a full basement in favor of a crawlspace. Thus, we left the bulkhead in, to provide access to the basement. Behind the bulkhead is the end-on view of the infamous bumpout ('sun space' when we're feeling fancy, which we seldom are.)

That pile o' stuff is from the guys working on the deck.

Sorry, these are getting a little repetitive, I guess...

Please to note the lovely lamp over the door, ahem. (Jen.)
We're rounding the corner. Eventually, this portion of the deck will have a simple screened in porch structure.
Rounding the corner. See the spigot? That's new.

North-facing side of house. Those vents are for the heat exchanger. One is for inhaling, one is for exhaling.
Now you can see the original house jutting out. That window there is relatively new - that's the batcave, the former office. Michael, who's working on the deck, put that window in for us.

West-facing side of house. There is a wooded hillside on this side of the house. That little window on the first floor is at the base of the stairs. Its mate, above it, is in the walk-in closet.

Existing house, west-facing side.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!