Monday, February 28, 2011

We lied.

We went to Gilbertsville even though we said we wouldn't. What can I say? We're junkies.

And our sainted neighbor had already shoveled our driveway. This is same sainted neighbor who brought us cookies months ago. When a neighbor shovels an eight-foot-wide, twenty-foot-long driveway covered in 10.5" of heavy, wet snow, the only respectable thing to do is use it.

I worked on my Epic Wall Project. Then I donned wings and a magic wand, and pranced around playing Touch-up Fairy. Just kidding about the wings part. Patrick spent most of the day sanding, emerging from his labors white as George Washington's powdered wig. I would've taken a picture if he'd let me, honest.

I'm not the first person to admit that, as of now, my wall looks a little crazy. Part of that is the colors I've been testing out-- some more successfully than others-- and the other part is that it's a work in progress and in time, I think, it'll work out okay. I hope.

It's an adventure. I'm enjoying the process. I can't wait to see if it's all going to be worth it in the end, and if it isn't, well, a little sanding, primer, and a fresh coat of paint will be all that's needed.

And if it is worth it in the end, I'm going to positively beam every time I walk into that room.

Friday, February 25, 2011

You've Come A Long Way, Baby: Laundry Room

A view of our new house, past and present. A reminder of how far we've come, and a morale-booster for the upcoming weekend of work.

This one is different. For starters, our so-called "laundry room" wasn't even a laundry room when we began. It was a kitchen. And, well, it still isn't much of a laundry room. But at least there's a washer and dryer in the room! Not hooked up yet, but, well, it's a journey, okay?

A journey of a thousand steps. We primed over those hideous colors. We scraped the paint off the tile. We brought the stove downstairs. Then we had this.

Then we tore out the cabinets, and cut the tile out of the wall. The tile wasn't going to leggo of the drywall, even with coaxing, so we saved ourselves some time and just cut the whole area out. Much faster.

Then Patrick started patching.

He patched and he patched.

Then he tore the cruddy vinyl up off the floor. He had to move the washer and dryer to accomplish this.

We were summarily shocked to discover fairly decent wood flooring underneath. I figured it'd match the wide-plank pine in the rest of the upstairs, but no.

So, yeah. I think a more appropriate title for this post would be, You've Come a long way, baby, and you still have a loooong way to go. Like I said, it's a journey.

We're taking a little break from the house this weekend. Patrick has beaucoup gigs, and I have boxes to pack, and a deadline to meet. It's okay to have a break every now and then, right?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kitchen plans

Remember our kitchen?

That's a view from last August, before we painted and moved things around. But the general idea is the same. To the right there, there's a window. The window looks like this.

When you take a step closer and peer out the window on a sunny February day, you see this.

And all that is well and good on its own. That's enough, really, to make me happy. But the even better part is, if you turn to the right from the window, what you have is this.

This is where the dryer used to live. Soon, I hope, this is where my pantry will live. Can you see it? Wide yellow pine shelves lined with mason jars full of dried beans? A few rows of canned tomatoes? Maybe even a braid of garlic hanging from a nail? (And it goes without saying: new flooring that isn't grungy vinyl, and a patch over the dryer vent opening.) I am so very excited to get started on this project.

I'm still tossing around some ideas for the space. Since it's very deep, and we don't want to make what's at the back of the shelves inaccessible, I'm toying with the idea of having some shelves on runners, so they slide out. Maybe just the lower ones. Maybe I'll scrap that and have bins on the lower level instead-- bins for potatoes and onions, or bins for recycling, or bins for cat and dog food. What are your thoughts? How would you use this space?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Oh, nothing much

Just a little bit of trim taping,

sunshine admiring,

from inside,

(and out).

Lots of spackle smearing and spackle sanding,

and a little bit of blue flower-painting.

Thanks for asking.

How was yours?

Friday, February 18, 2011

You've Come a Long Way, Baby: Built-in

A view of our new house, past and present. A reminder of how far we've come, and a morale-booster for the upcoming weekend of work.

This gorgeous built-in was a huge selling point. And it needed some love. The insides of the doors were dingy white, the back was badly wallpapered, and the shelves were pollen yellow.

I stripped the wallpaper. I sanded the inside. I primed the inside. I administered wood filler to a big crack in one of the doors. I sanded it flush. I painted and polyurethaned the shelves, painted the doors, painted the inside.

And now:
Oh, yes. That blue is called "Contemplation" (Behr) and I think it's lovely. I have a few more little ideas for this thing, but they're waaaay down on the Magic Never-ending To-Do List, and there are more pressing matters for the moment. Like fixing crumbling lath, and pulling up groty floor tiles. You know.

But sometime in the next year, this built-in may include:
  • Chic metal wine-glass racks, like you see in restaurants.
  • Pretty-colored chalkboard paint on the insides of the doors.
  • Cool wallpaper on the back of the inside.
For now, though, it serves.

Tonight we're heading out to the house, as per usual, with our minds on more than the usual grind of house-work. Today is our anniversary. Five years ago we had our first date. I've written pretty thoroughly, I think, about our story. The longer we're together, the more incredible it is to me that Myspace started it all. He was just some random guy, and he's still that guy. Less random now, though.

So, tonight there will be dinner out in Gilbertsville, and wine, and an evening alone together. Aren't those the best kind? I think so.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Currently making my world go round...

This amazing blueberry coffee cake, made with blueberries I picked last summer. (Recipe at the bottom of this post!)

Watching Genevieve gobble carrot peels like strands of orange spaghetti.

The eggs, also Genevieve's, which are multiplying in our refrigerator.

The lengthening daylight, which again enables me to take decent photos after arriving home from work.

And most significantly...

The remarkable decency, sweetness, and generosity of an extremely famous and talented friend of mine. Talk about a make-my-day moment.

Anyway, that coffee cake. This is from Moosewood Celebrates, my kitchen bible.

Buttery Blueberry Coffee Cake

1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped toasted nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts, or a combination)
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine all topping ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, and set aside.

Dry Ingredients
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Sift together in a medium bowl, and set aside.

Wet Ingredients
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups nonfat plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the wet ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Gradually sift in the dry ingredients, beating gently just long enough to make a uniform batter.

Preheat the oven to 350. Oil a 9 x 13" baking pan, and coat the inside with sesame seeds (optional).

Spread the batter in the bottom of the pan, and top with two cups fresh or frozen blueberries. Sprinkle the oat-nut topping over the berries, and bake for one hour.

What's been making your world go round this week?

If you're lacking for something to make your world go round, might I humbly suggest the above coffee cake? Happy hump day!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Flowers grow in Gilbertsville

Just after arriving at the house Friday evening, after hurriedly unloading the truck and punching up the thermostat (to a balmy 50 degrees!) Patrick was on the road to Old Forge for a gig. I installed Diesel on the bed, changed into work clothes, and revved up the space heaters.

Tonight I was going to get back to my wall project.

A large expanse of wall in the Great Room was covered with careful white colored-pencil etchings, like a giant paint-by-number. It had sat, neglected, for long enough. Time to start filling in those etchings with a paint brush. (Read the story of this project: part 1, part 2.)

These were my first few tentative petals. (The colors look a lot better together in real life, take my word for it.) For four long hours, I filled my solo Friday evening with painting leaves and petals on the wall of my favorite room. Arm cramps aside, it was deeply calming, enjoyable, rewarding work. (More pictures at the end of this post!)


Saturday morning, a dump run was in order. We are sorry, dear planet earth, for the garbage we are creating. If we could've bought the house without the wall-to-wall carpeting in nearly every room, we would've. Not all of it is going to the dump; some will hopefully go home with a yard sale attendee or two this summer. Some, though, was cruddy beyond salvation.

As Patrick roared away in the truck, I made tea and settled into small projects. I painted more petals.

I spent a lot of time watching it snow. (Turns out, in the hills between Gilbertsville and the county dump, Patrick was stuck in near-whiteout conditions. The 50-mile round trip took him three hours!)

This weekend, we brought our guest-room bed from Binghamton, and set it up in the guest room in Gilbertsville. We've disparaged the color, but I kind of like it with the curtains. Does that make me crazy?

It was very exciting to sleep on a real mattress in the new house. Sleeping on an air mattress was getting old. I mean, it's only been sixteen straight weekends in a row.

Then Patrick came home. We knocked off a little light demo, just for fun. Nothing like a little demo to break up the monotony of painting. This is the "after" picture of our upstairs kitchen. (Reference: the before picture.)

Backstory: The house was built in 1850, and divided into two apartments somewhere around 1992. Since the closing in November, we've re-opened a stairwell, converted a hot water heater, and torn out part of this now-superfluous second kitchen. There used to be a stove, a tile backsplash, and a bunch of cabinets in this space. The kitchen sink on the opposite wall will be staying, for this is going to become our laundry room. And a sink is a nice thing to have in a laundry room, yes? Yes.

So that was Saturday. Afterward, we drove to Syracuse for Patrick's second gig of the weekend. The drive up was my favorite part. The sun was blushing the sky pink, and the snow gold. We drove snow-sugared roads through farm after farm after farm. The big open fields, and the big open sky, haven't changed much in 150 years. I watched the little picturesque towns and slate-stoned cemeteries and gingerbread-trimmed houses whisk by, and I began to grow very eager for a sunny Saturday morning and a day to spend adventuring. Sounds like we have some exploring to do.


I spent most of Sunday painting ceilings, in one form or another. You can see my painted-up-to ceiling line in the photo below.

Then I got back to the petals.

Not bad, right? The dahlias (white-and-yellow flowers) look pretty much exactly like they do on the wallpaper I'm copying.

Right? The colors are reading really cold in the pictures I took; in real-life they're a lot more like the wallpaper.

I tested the colors I'd brought in the middle of the wall. That area will someday be covered up, probably by a fireplace and some built-in-bookcases. For paint, I'm using acrylic craft paint (Ceramcoat) for some colors, and basic latex interior paint (Glidden) for others. I'm really happy with the gray, yellow, and white I chose-- those are definite keepers. The green and the blue, however, need a little, er, tweaking. I'm going to try mixing in a touch of orange paint next weekend, hoping to make them a little less vibrant.

The colors need to work together on a happy, muted-but-playful team.

I have a feeling my week is going to include some paint color sleuthing. Just a feeling.

It feels great to have begun this project, and really great that aspects of it are working. It's going to be a big job, that's for sure. I'm not totally sure I'll be painting all four walls this way-- that remains to be seen. For now, the goal is to finish this one wall, and then decide.

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