Sunday, January 30, 2011

Status Report

Well, this weekend brought us only minimally closer to moving upstairs.  I think I can safely blame the sewage situation for this delay.  Thursday night, each of us got only three or four restless hours of sleep, and Friday - although it did not require our own physical labor for the clean-up - was as exhausting as if it had.  So despite a full, restful night of sleep on Friday night, we didn't wake up Saturday morning rearing to go.  Justin actually had a lot of lab/report work to finish to make up for what he'd missed Friday, meaning we were down a set of hands in terms of house work.  I eventually found enough motivation to drag myself upstairs and work on some of the drywall. 

Here I am during one of my un-motivated trips downstairs to visit Justin.

I essentially finished prepping the master bedroom for prime and paint.  It has had all three coats of spackle, and just needs a few touch-up spots.  Here's how it looks as of tonight:

I didn't get to work in the other bedroom at all this weekend.  The guest bedroom/sewing room needs to be sanded, coated once more, and given the final sand.  Here's how it looks today:

They're obviously not painted rooms (as mentioned in our overly ambitious weekend goals), but we're getting closer.  We also accomplished a big Lowe's shopping trip on Saturday evening to pick up the new vanity, toilet, etc, for the upstairs bathroom.  Given the circumstances, it wasn't a bad weekend.  As soon as the drywall is finished, I suspect the rest of things will fall into place quickly (I tend to be motivated to work on painting tasks, but the novelty of being able to finish drywall has worn off, and I've joined the "I hate drywall" club). 

Speaking of that, has anyone out there every met someone who LIKES finishing drywall?  I'm asking mostly out of curiousity, because in my experience, such an individual doesn't exist.  I'm also asking because I may try to arrange a bribe to bring a drywall-lover to Ithaca ;)

Friday, January 28, 2011

$5.81 saves the day

Yesterday, I had a particularly bad day at work.  When I say "particularly," it makes it sound like all of my days at work are bad.  Which is definitely not true.  It's just that this one day was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (just like Alexander).  Not like a "ehh I'm tired day."  A full-out presentation-to-the-city-mayor-goes-poorly, clients-say-personally-mean-things, director-thinks-your-reports-are-wrong kind of a day.  What could possibly turn around such a train-wreck of a day?  Retail therapy.

Perhaps you've never heard the term.  Perhaps you're male and can't comprehend the term (or are wondering if I don't really mean therapy FROM retail).  Allow me to explain.  I'm definitely NOT the kind of person who thinks that money can buy happiness.  True joy does not come from money or from anything money can buy.  But, I will admit that there are certain days when a little shopping trip can be a pick-me-up.  I think it's more the distraction than anything else.  And that, my friends, is retail therapy. 

On my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I first stopped at the Salvation Army store to see if there was anything cool for the house.  There was not.  So I wandered around Michael's craft store for a while and tried to forget about the presentation and the angry client and the confusing numbers.  Crafty things tend to do that for me.  I won't run you through the whole aisle-for-aisle affair (after all, it was my therapy session), but I will show you what I brought home:

It didn't look like that when I brought it home (c'mon, it was a craft store!)  I actually just bought the white frame and one grayish-blue piece of scrapbook paper.  The best part (the turning point for the bad day) was when I got to the register and found out the frame was 50% off!!!  Oh happy surprise!

I already had the image - it was something I ripped out of a Real Simple magazine.

I could hardly call it a craft project, since I only took 5 minutes with my paper-cutter to stick that baby in the frame (and an extra 2 minutes to windex both sides of the glass, just to make my mom proud).

The image stuck out to me when I flipped through my magazine.  I think it's because I remember my parents "jumping" me as we walked along.  And because it reminds me of the way I hope Justin and I will parent someday - side by side, taking time to enjoy the simple joys of our family and everyday life. 

So although nothing about this picture shouts "bathroom," it does perfectly match the new paint.  And I'm hoping it will bring a smile while we're brushing our teeth.  Even on bad days.  Maybe five dollars and eighty one cents CAN buy a little slice of happiness.

***Update: While literally mid-word in writing this post last night, Justin discovered a sewage leak in our basement.  Yeah, it's possible for a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day to get worse!  At least I had one bright spot :)  Today has been spent managing the phones between the plumber, the sewage clean-up crew, our insurance company, etc.  My outlook has improved over night (despite the sleeplessness that inevitably comes from having toilet paper swimming downstairs) and I'm able to count the blessings in this situation - our insurance is covering most of it, it wasn't upstairs, our basement is a lot cleaner and more organized post-flood, the leak occurred on the side of the basement where 99% of the stuff was in rubbermaid bins, we learned which plumber will be good for our upcoming washer/dryer and bathroom renovations, etc., etc., etc. 

Fair warning, this weekend's upstairs renovation progress may be slowed given the repercussions of this leak - but such is the joy homeownership :)  I'll do my best to continue to keep you posted.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Musical Chairs

Whoops, it's been a while, hasn't it?...finally - a new post!

We're currently using only 50% of our home's square footage (namely, the downstairs half) because all 3 rooms upstairs are under construction.  This has resulted in some interesting furniture arrangements.  Although we've moved on from a bed in the kitchen, we still have a bed in the den and a desk in the kitchen.  Oh, and another bed masquerading as a couch in the living room.  Once construction is finished upstairs, we can begin a game of musical chairs to match the furniture to the intended function of a room.

We are still on track to move upstais mid-February.  In fact, in a crazy spurt of energy last night, we decided that we should finish the upstairs THIS WEEKEND.  Although it's probaby definitely unreasonable to say that we'd be "finished," I think it is reasonable to dream of two painted bedrooms (which would bring the upstairs paint completion rate to 100%, unless you count the stairwell!)  Since I'm not doing so hot on my New Year's blog-o-lutions (especially the ones about updating frequently and showing more pictures), I'll try to make up for it with a "before and after" of our weekend's progress.

At any rate, it's going to be a very happy day when the big game of musical chairs happens and we move our stuff upstairs.  I'm hoping to at least fare better this time around than I did during a fated game of musical chairs in 3rd grade that resulted in a broken arm.  (Yes, someone sat on my tiny little arm and it broke).

Now, if anything, our downstairs furniture situation is semi-crowded.  However, when we spread the furniture over twice the area, we're suddenly going to be looking a little light in that department.  I've been doing a little online idea shopping (no real shopping yet because my wise husband advises against purchasing things we don't yet have a space to use).  Without further ado, some ideas of things I'm hoping to add to our collection:

A hutch (like this one) for the living room.  I want one with cupboards on the bottom (these open shelves are OK with me since the wine rack is removeable) to store things like board games, and shelves on the top to display decorative items

Large Cherry Buffet with Cherry Wood Top and Open Shelf Hutch

I actually haven't completely figured out what I want for the rest of the living room.  Definitely a comfy couch, a big ottoman or coffee table for board games (hey, we don't have a TV, we love our games!), and some extra seating so that we can expand our entertaining options beyond our kitchen table.  The living room is an interesting space, though - in that it has 5 doors (the front door, basement door, and entrances to the den, bathroom, and kitchen).  I think it's going to call for some creative furniture arrangement to make it comfortable, livable, welcoming, and serve both as a passageway and the primary living space.  More to come on that, of course.

Upstairs, I've put the most thought into the guest room/sewing room.  Of course, my new sewing table will go there, and I'm loving this type of bed (two in one, how cool is that?!)

I also want to get a small cozy chair - my two current favorites are these two from Pier 1:

Any votes as to whether I should chose the bold & fun Liliana or the soft & pretty Addyson?

Either way, I'll probably get a small ottoman like this one so I can prop up my feet and spend these chilly Ithaca evenings knitting (Yes, the evenings we're not playing board games.  Yes, Justin and I are 70-somethings in 20-something bodies.  Yes, we embrace this fact).

My dream furniture round-up doesn't include such essentials as a bedroom set (our one tiny dresser isn't cutting it, and it probably wouldn't be classy to eternally keep our boxsprings on the floor), but I think I'll have better luck searching for these items in person.  Google searches have ended with too many results to look at, and, let's be honest, dressers just aren't as much fun as those Pier 1 chairs!

I'm obviously dreaming of chairs of all sorts - musical and otherwise :) What do you guys think - can we "finish" two rooms this weekend?  And what furnishings do you think we should choose?  Any votes for Lilly or Addison (the chairs!)?

Monday, January 10, 2011

So fresh and so clean

When I looked back through my files, it appears that I neglected to take good "before" pictures of several rooms in the house.  Unfortunately, the bathroom fell into this category.  So, all I have to show for the ugly old white room with dripping red paint on the woodwork is a few close up photos:

These don't really do it justice in terms of showing just how yucky it was.  I happen to be of the decorating opinion that all woodwork should be a nice crisp white, so the red paint was a little hard for me to handle.  And, really, if you're going to have dripping paint, isn't red the worst color??  I mean, it looked like the walls were bleeding.  Yuck.

But no worries.  The bathroom looks much more crisp and clean after this weekend's activities (and, yes, as a follow-up,  I still have paint stuck on my arms, although it's mostly off my hands and hair).  I'm much better at taking "after" pictures than "before."  (Perhaps because now I can stand to look at the walls for more than 30 seconds).

The color is a silvery-grey-blue that was selected to match a piece of fabric I bought on clearance last May.  In fact, that piece of fabric (which will be our future shower curtain) was the first thing I bought for our house!  The following images are my attempts at showing you my vision for the bathroom:

The left-most image is a picture of the aforementioned shower curtain fabric.  It's iridescent blue with silver, grey, and blue detail stitching.  When I saw it, I thought it was reminiscent of water, and therefore perfect for bathroom decor!  I'm pretty set on this vanity from Lowes, as well as a matching medicine cabinet.  We already own these towels from Bed Bath and Beyond thanks to our generous family and friends who chose them from our Wedding Registry.  This faucet is a little pricier than I'd like, but it shows you the general style I'll go for - we're replacing both the sink and tub/shower fixtures.  Also, I'm definitely looking for a curved shower rod such as this one for a big, luxurious feel in an otherwise average bathtub.

The blue vase pictured above was found online to represent a similar (but far prettier) planter/urn we received as a wedding gift (thanks, Jillian & Travis!). The window you see in the picture above gets lots of afternoon sun, so we figure that sunny window in a semi-humid location (the bathroom) will be perfect for growing some plants!

After looking at the picture of the newly painted bathroom, I realized that there's lots of wall space.  Besides the necessary addition of a towel rack, I'll also need some art.  I started looking online for ideas.  Since I wasn't sure what direction I wanted to go, I just started clicking around on  As I looked at the various images, I started to narrow down my interests.  I found myself drawn to the black and white photography, particularly of the nature scenes.  I ended up most interested in waterfall pictures such as this one (shown above).  I probably won't actually buy that, though.  Why would we display generic waterfalls when we could take pictures of our own?  For example, both of these pictures were taken at two of the many beautiful locations in Ithaca - each only 10 minutes from our house.

 Are those pictures enough to entice visitors this summer?  The bathroom will be finished by then, too, so you can see all of our design choices in action (although I promise to share them online, too!)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A sticky situation

If you ever have a "hard to paint surface," Sherwin Williams has a product for you: adhesion primer.  I asked Sherwin Williams (are you singing the ditty yet?) what to do about the weird shiny walls in our bathroom closet, and this is what they recommended.  The good news is, the stuff definitely sticks, and I think tomorrow the closet will be ready for painting.  I should also note however, that it sticks VERY WELL to all surfaces.  Including skin and hair.  Which is why I found myself in the unfortunate situation of attending a coworker's birthday party tonight looking just a tad bit splotchy.  Let's just be glad that it's long-sleeved weather for a while, because somehow my forearms are worse than my hands.  Perhaps this is the true mark of a home-improvement enthusiast?

Bathroom painting progress pics tomorrow (and perhaps pictures of polka-dotted me, too, if additional showers don't remedy the situation)...

Friday, January 7, 2011

The making of a (wo)man

So although I bring home half of the bacon in this family, I have to be honest that I find more joy in the cooking of the bacon than in the earning of the bacon.  (OK, perhaps bacon was a bad example because I don't particularly enjoy cooking or eating bacon...but you get the point).  When it comes down to it, I'm a traditionalist who wholeheartedly enjoys my nurturing role as wife - cooking, doing laundry, and otherwise taking care of my man.

That's why I'm over-the-moon excited that the following two things are being delivered sometime in the next week:

GE 3.4 Cu. Ft. Top-Load Washer (Color:  White on White) ENERGY STAR®GE® 7 Cu. Ft. Electric Dryer (Color: White on White)
(photos from

As if getting a washer and dryer of my very own wasn't enough....THIS is also on its way:

(Photo from this seller on eBay)

For those of you who aren't as thrilled by domestic chores as I am, that is a sewing machine table.  I've been looking for one on craigslist for a while, but it's tough to find one that A) meets my somewhat restrictive criteria, B) doesn't already have a sewing machine attached, and C) (most importantly) will actually fit the machine I own.  Last night, I googled "sewing machine table" and this eBay listing popped up.  Clearly, it was meant to be mine.  It has everything I want AND it was literally designed for the machine I own (a 1970s Kenmore table).  Oh - although slightly more expensive than the far inferior $50 tables I've seen on craigslist, I was excited that it was more than $500 less than the new table I would have bought if I couldn't find a suitable old version.

As I've mentioned, I'm one happy camper.  I think I've completed my collection of things I feel I need to be a real homemaker.  Oh, wait, I still need a good vacuum - but that's less exciting, and will come with time!  :)

But I'm not the only one in our house really excited by recent developments.  Justin - like me - is a traditionalist at heart who embraces his gender role.  Being strong and protective and fixing things is right up his alley.  So finishing this project last night made him exclaim "Now I feel like a real man!"

 That's his new workbench - complete with newly wired florescent lights and a new outlet.  See the gleam of excitement and pride in his eyes when I flipped the breaker for him and both lights - and the drill (plugged into the new outlet) were working:

And that, my friends, is how this week made one happy woman and one happy man.  The end.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Happy New Year!!

We're back from our fabulous whirlwind Christmas tour of Pennsylvania.  Our big trip meant lots of time with our wonderful family, lots of relaxation, and an even greater appreciation for home, sweet, home (we missed it after a week!)  The early parts of this week have brought lots and lots of projects, and it's starting to look like the former glory of this home may not be completely lost, and that we may even find it in the semi-near future!  Since returning to Ithaca, we've painted the bathroom ceiling, bought a washer and dryer (YAY), drywalled the new master bedroom closet, hung the trim on the closet & replaced the baseboard/crown in the room, built a work bench, and organized the basement.  I really can only claim credit for the painting and the hard-working hubby has done the rest.

Clearly I've got lots to show you in terms of renovations, but that's not the point of today's post.  I was thinking a bit about it being New Years and all, and considering those infamous New Years resolutions.  Don't worry, I'm not going to blab on about exercising or health food or anything.  I am thinking of New Years resolutions for my blogging.  Here's what I'd like to do with the blog in 2011:

1) More show, less tell.  I've heard from the grapevine that certain people (namely my lovable brother) actually boycot the text and only look at pictures.  For him, and for the rest of you, I'll try to take and post more pictures of our progress, rather than simply writing about it.  (P.S. Give me a pass on this entry...the increased viewing will begin next time I write a post!)

2) Forgetting perfection.  I'm a perfectionist (I know, HUGE shocker, especially to those of you who knew me in high school).  While I'm learning to let that go with a work-in-progress house, it definitely carries through on the blog.  I hesitate to post until I've come up with a creative title (my personal favorite here), taken nice pictures, completed a project, cleaned up, written a novel, etc, etc, etc.  I imagine that you'll all continue to read (and perhaps even enjoy it more) if I let go a bit and share things about the house and our progress a bit more organically.  At the end of the day, I didn't create the blog to impress you all, just to share with you because so many of those I love are far away from Ithaca!

3) Host a virtual open house. As a result of my perfectionist approach to sharing things online, as well as the limited number of hours in a day, I have yet posted a tour of the house. I'd like to work on sharing a before (and eventually after) room-by-room tour of our home. Maybe that can be a January-February resolution instead of a 2011 resolution - don't want to leave you hanging too long!

4) You tell me, what should this resolution be? Maybe it was just my family, but has anyone else ever had resolutions made for them?  Growing up, I often remember my mom saying, "Your New Year's resolution will be...[insert new good habit here]."  Most of the time, she filed in the blank for me with "going to bed earlier" because then, like now, I had more interests than could neatly be compacted into 16 waking hours.  I think it was really just her sweet way of showing us her love and her commitment to our continual growth as human beings.  And proof that mothers always know best.

But anyway, I find it's actually an enlightening experience to have other people make your resolutions for you.  Justin jumped right on the bandwagon when I told him about it, and assigned me to drink more water in 2011 (isn't it wonderful that I have all these loving people who care about my health & well-being!)  So, please (PLEASE!) let me know what you think I should do with my blog in 2011.  Perhaps you'd like to see more posts.  Fewer posts.  Less wordy posts.  Exclusively renovation posts.  Step-by-step how-we-did-it posts.  Perhaps you enjoy my posts where I detour from home renovation and write about other, only tangentially related, topics.  Maybe you hate reading those ones.  Maybe you'll keep reading no matter what I do (thanks, Mom & Dad!!) 

The bottom line is, there's no point in me writing a blog that you don't like to read, and as we've reviewed, I'm a pretty busy girl, so I don't want to waste my time.  Let me hear it - I want to know what you think my 2011 "blog-olutions" should be. 

Oh, and while we're at it, my New Year's resolution for YOU, dear readers, is to post more comments.  All you have to do go down to that little box at the bottom of the post where it says "Post a Comment."  Tell me what you think, ask a question, or just say hi, and click "Post Comment."  I simply like to know that you're out there in big-ol' cyberspace.  :)