Archive for January, 2010

In Brief

So….where were we?

We did tell you that Wiley is back, right? The people who moved into our old apartment called one freezing morning in early January to tell us that Wiley was mewling outside their front door. Apparently, he’d been living underneath the apartment building. When we picked him up he was skin and bones, with a gaping wound on his haunches to boot. We took him to the vet for a checkup and were told he was fine. We were so relieved to find him all in one piece, especially after the cold snap he’d lived through, but already he is disturbing the fragile peace that Ting-Tong and Thumbs were finally establishing with each other. Our animal kingdom had finally found some order, but Wiley has a tendency to rule with an iron-fisted my-way-or-the-highway kind of demeanor when it comes to the other pets. As you can see here, he already has Ting-Tong on a short leash.

We’re hoping he calms down soon.

In the dining area, we finally put up the curtains we bought at IKEA back at Christmastime. They look great, though you can’t see much of them in this photo. I need to hem them a bit, which scares me because they’re really nice linen fabric with a nice lining, and I’ve never hemmed anything with so many layers and really don’t want to screw it up, but I’ll get around to it one of these days.

Our contractor, Ben is back from his two-week trip to India, which means 1) we owe him a lot of money, but 2) he will be coming over soon to tile our bathtub surround! This is very exciting, since we’ve been taking “shubs” (showers while sitting in the tub) for almost a month now. (Before that it was just baths, because we didn’t have our removable shower head yet. It’s amazing what one can get used to, isn’t it? No real shower for 3 months. Sounds pretty awful, but I don’t even notice the lack of it anymore.)

We’re also hoping to bang out some painting next weekend when my cousin Emily comes up for a home improvement visit. She’s got the energy to make up for our lackadaisical ways times three, AND she loves Sadie, to boot. So it should be a relaxing but productive weekend. Now, to get through the workweek first…

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Do we have news for you! We’ve finally put the shelves up in the kitchen. Leon, our trusty electrician-turned-apprentice carpenter, used his laser level and mad skillz to get our shelving up perfectly straight and even. (I can’t find our camera memory card so had to take yet another iPhone photo–apologies.) I was a little dubious when I first saw the photos that Nick sent to me at work, but in person the shelves really look good. No more walking around the corner to the pantry for a bowl or a plate! I’m happy to report, too, that our dishes are pretty nice looking, and I’m not embarrassed at all to have them out on display.

Of course, we still need to paint the kitchen, a task that just got more difficult now that we don’t have empty walls to work with, but we never seem to find the time to paint, and can’t keep putting off the other things we need to do until that magical day when we’re able to block off a whole day for painting.

In other news, I made the executive decision last week to hire a cleaning person to really give our house the good, post-reno cleaning it needed, particularly of the floors. Our new wooden floors had been subject to workmen boots for weeks, and though I’ve vacuumed plenty, I kept waiting for the reno work to really be done before I got down on my hands and knees to scrub the floor. A good scrubbing is what it needed, too–no mop was going to do the job.

Unfortunately, the cleaning team I hired, a mother-daughter duo on the recommendation of another cleaning service that was too booked to offer us a one-time clean, didn’t quite get the job done. The house was clean when I got home–vacuumed, tidied, and the stove, sinks, and bathtub were all sparkling–but the floors were no better than when I left them this morning. Apparently, I didn’t specify that I was looking for elbow grease, not a wet mop. I’m a little bummed out because the whole reason I hired someone was to do the hard labor of scrubbing floors. Argh.

But the house looks good, nice enough that it motivated Nick and I just a little bit more to clean and organize. I guess for that reason alone, the cleaning team was worth the cost.

Okay, not quite. I really wanted those floors clean.

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A few days after Christmas, we got the most amazing gift: my cousins Emily and Toby and my Uncle Bill came to visit, and they went crazy helping me organize, fix, and move stuff around. I took the week off because Sadie’s daycare was closed for the week, and as it turns out I came down with an awful, energy-sucking cold. Nick worked the entire week–including the weekend–so I would have been totally on my own if it weren’t for my awesome extended family. (I should add that my sister-in-law, who lives here in Maine, also pitched in on Tuesday, leaving 2 of her 3 kids with my brother in order to do so.)

I knew my cousins and uncle were coming to visit, but had no idea that they were going to help me with the house. The first day, Emily, Julia and my Uncle Bill helped me clear a path through our “library” room. They carried boxes to the basement and helped me sort a lot of our “stuff” in a much more efficient manner than Nick and I could possibly be capable of. I realize now that Nick and I hem and haw and analyze–paralysis by analysis, I think it’s called. Not good. We needed neutral parties to come in and tell us what to do.

Emily and Bill put together the folding Ikea sewing table Nick and I picked up on our way back from Christmas at my dad’s house in Massachusetts, and I was finally able to unpack my sewing machine! The rest of the books went onto the bookshelf, and decisions were made as to what to do with a lot of …. stuff. Now we can actually sit in our “extra” room and I can imagine all the arts and crafts Sadie and I are going to do in there someday when she’s just a bit older. Here’s a picture of Emily taking a picture of Uncle Bill with Sadie and my niece (also named) Emily.

The other major, long overdue project Toby and Bill tackled was creating a new coat rack out of leftover pieces of trim wood and some hooks that we had picked up at Ikea on the same post-Christmas run. We borrowed my brother’s Skil Saw and they cut down the leftover pieces and made the whole thing fit perfectly into the corner where the wobbly coat rack used to stand. (My uncle then cut the coat rack down to Sadie-size, and we put it in her room for sweaters and hats.)

I’ll get a photo of the final product up here eventually, but trust me when I say it looks really cool and makes our coats and jackets feel much more organized and like less of a jumble.

Here’s Emily screwing in some outlet plates. There were all these finishing little touches that really made the house feel more organized and finished. We still have a long way to go, but it’s amazing what a bunch of borrowed hands can do for your house–and your morale.

I guess Nick and I have sort of hit a wall (ha! no pun intended) as far as the decorating/final renovating goes. There are just so many choices and we stall on making them, or else we make the wrong ones. For example, I was certain we wanted white walls in the living room and dining areas, to “brighten” things up, but the color we finally chose–Atirum White–looks much too stark. I think we need something creamier, at the very least, or need to pick a color. I dreamed of having a clean, modern, bright white space, with touches of rustic warm modernism, but you know what, I think that looks better in magazines than it does in real life. I have a kid, a dog and a cat, and we live in Maine, where it’s snowy half the year and muddy for the other quarter. I just don’t think white is gonna work. (I think my friend Kenda warned me of this way back…) Also, as I read over on the The Home and Garden Web in one of the forums, white really looks best when the architectural details of the house are already there. Otherwise, it tends to highlight the lack of character.

For example, here is our dining area. I love the space. We’re using the kitchen table from my childhood home (which needs to be sanded and refinished), Nick’s dining chairs, and a new pendant lamp from Ikea. I like how the space looks clean and crisp and modern, but it’s lacking some warmth. We have curtains we plan on hanging over our bank of windows, but I’m thinking now that we really need a wall color to warm it up a bit. Your thoughts?

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