Sunday, February 28, 2010

What a difference a weekend makes or how a lucky find at Home Depot = finished bathroom

As ES and I delve down the slippery slope of home renovations (we keep seeing more and more visions of things we’d like to change…), we put together a list of the things we needed to finish the bathroom.  Although I had ordered the faucet last night, we still needed to pick up the tools for the installation (anyone heard of a basin wrench?).  Love YouTube.  Anything you ever needed to know about how to change a faucet.  The ultimate stop for the amateur DIYer. 

IMG_2856Down in the plumbing supplies, I spied a Clearance Area.  Thinking perhaps I could pick up some of our supplies on sale, I went over to see what I could find.  Lo and behold I found a faucet that was quite close to the one I’d ordered last night, but it was 1/2 price.  We picked up coordinating hardware and headed home to see if we could get everything installed and finished up.   Thankfully, I called the online store I’d ordered the fixtures from the night before.  Given the warehouse isn’t open on Sundays, they hadn’t filled my order yet.  Cancelled – check!


A little elbow grease and some contorting on ES’ part (the pedestal sink is quite tight against our bathroom wall) and a lot of measuring on my part (putting in towel and tp bars) and voila!  A completed bathroom.  We picked up a few more accessories to finish off the room.  All for under $225, including all the paint, paint supplies, socket covers, towel bar/tp holder, and the faucet.  Our new bathroom….


As the paint dried, it took on a slightly darker (but not too much) appearance.  When I held up the chip, it still matched 1 shade lighter on the label.  I’m almost thinking when the person at the store mixed it, it wasn’t quite right.  I guess, however, if I had to err on the side of caution, I’d go for lighter.  The space is so small (so small it has a pocket vs a traditional door) it would look even smaller with a darker color.


Although ES and I are wiped out, it’s a good kind of tired.   Feels good to accomplish something ourselves.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Holy Mola! Part #2

About 8 years ago, but Aunt gave me some pieces of art and paintings for my condo when I moved not far from her in D.C. One of the pieces of art was a mola. These are traditional handworks of the Panamian Kuna Indians. The pieces are often of animals, but sometimes they are of more abstract shapes. They are often colorful and are shown into clothing (especially women's shirts). Soon, our mola collection grew. My parents gave us one. ES's dad gave us 2 that he used to have in his office. We found some along the way too in antique stores, auctions, ect. We've been putting them "up the wall" in our entry way. We've now gone up about as far as I think we'll go, courtesy of our friend's little giant ladder. The orange and yellow ones are the latest finds....

When a sink becomes a paint job....

The home improvement slippery slope has begun. In an effort to make "small" but noticeable changes (think getting most out of our budget friendly choices), we decided to replace fixtures (from the builders grade) in our bathroom. Well you can't just replace the faucet, as then there's the matching towel bar and toilet paper holder....Sigh. So then it's time to take them off and put up new, but the lines don't match up. The paint looks funny (and has lots of holes).

The bottom line...Couldn't find anything we really, really liked at Home Depot, Ace, or Lowes. I ended up buying one (and matching fixtures) online. The one I really, really wanted was $535. Given this was not going to happen, I found another one (a little less of the Craftsman style, but I still like it) for about 1/5 of the price. This made me happy. The funny thing is, the bathroom was so small, that we had to "trade sides" so we didn't end up running/bumping/painting over each other. The hardest part was getting the room taped off along the wood trim and making sure the wood floor was covered with a tarp. The painting took a little over an hour - not bad. The fixtures arrive in about a week (I was too cheap to pay for shipping - free shipping = 8 days).

We decided that if we are going to re-do the faucet and fixtures, we should start with a good paint job. We found a shade a brown ("crushed peanut") that ended up being so light, that it was hard at times to tell the difference between the old and the new wall color. Once it dried , you could see a slight, but noticeable change. More like a faint vs a crush peanut. However, it still looks good. My dream, of course, is to buy a small vanity for this room, but for now, we will keep the existing pedestal sink.

We'd really like our kitchen to be our next project, but since this is going to be a major undertaking (and expense), we're holding off for now and perhaps will do the upstairs guest bathroom next....

So here is the before pictures of the bathroom....after pictures coming soon....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What do you get when you give a kitty an IV?

We ended up taking Oscar to the vet recently, after a serious bout of illness. The vet decided it was serious enough to keep him for a few days. He made it through after a bit of a rough patch, but has been left with a lasting legacy that will take awhile to grow back....his IV spot.

Spring cleaning...and pruning

The weather has been refreshingly, dare I say, warm this past February. We've been taking advantage of the warmer weather and have started to do a little cleaning and pruning.

It started with opening a few windows to "air out" the place. A little fresh air after a long winter of being cooped up! The warm(ish) air, the birds chirping, and....we started to get the cleaning/pruning "fever." It started with the linen closet. I'd been holding on to place mats and tablecloths I'd gotten as a graduate student and decided it was time to pass those on and start using more of the gifts we've been given when ES and I got married. It felt great to get rid of things. It created a snowball effect...I moved onto the pantry. Our kitchen pantry is more like a small closet. And not deep. I ran to 3B and got some organizational items/plastic stacking shelves....And spent the afternoon getting things in order. I even opened up the glass spice jars we got as a wedding present and put some of our spices into these. I even got out the labeler. Perhaps a little over the top, but now at least I know what I have (no more cans of soup hidden up and behind the baked beans) in my pantry....

ES took to pruning the trees and cleaning up the flower beds. The lilys look great (and are starting to sprout) and the Spanish broom got a major haircut. We'll need to get the grass mowed soon...Ah, I love the signs, smells, and sights of the soon to be spring.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I love...

I am copying this from Nuclear Mom (who I think got this from Pioneer Woman...). Thanks for the great idea! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?? It's always good to remember what we love and are grateful for.

So in random order here are some of the things I love:

Sunday mornings with the Sunday New York Times Puzzle
The way ES looks at me in the morning (without makeup, a shower, and stinky breathe)
Ice cream from the Dairy Store at Cornell U
My itty kitty
Long chats with my friends who live thousands of miles away
Traveling to far and not so far away places
Being pampered
Vanilla lattes
The smell of wet leaves in the fall after raking and while sipping hot cider
A cheeseburger from Blakes
The beach and the sound of the ocean
Playing with my nephews
Laughing so hard you can't breathe
Running stump the chump with ES while trying to quiz each other on movie lines
Foreign films
Seeing some of my favorite movies over and over
A grilled cheese and tomato soup on a cold day
A lazy afternoon sitting by the fire and reading a good book
Beachcombing and playing in the tidal pools
ES' goofy smile
Martha's Vineyard
Long weekends
Collecting rocks along the beach
The New Yorker - esp. the cartoons and the Shouts and Murmurs section
Candy necklaces
Christmas lights
Green Chili
A lazy backstroke in the pool on a hot day
Santa Fe
Going to the Zoo
Lasting friendships
The thought there are always new places to explore
That I only have to visit a few more states to be able to say I've been to all 50 states
Blue crab sandwiches
The National Gallery and the National Museum of American History
Making travel plans
Taking pictures
My Tevas
LL Bean
Going to the Kennedy Center
Meeting new friends
Playing Wii
Sharing my prior night's dream with ES and vise versa
Cheezy 80s music
Riding the ferry
The smell of the beach

Old Photos and New Faces

ES and I spent the weekend visiting family, with the aims of visiting my father (recovering from surgery) and finalizing details of my grandmother's funeral service. One of the few things left to do is sort through boxes and boxes of old photos from my grandmothers house. We spent hours going through 1000s of photos, many of which I'd not seen before. We ended up spliting up many of the photos between kids, siblings, and cousins.

It was like seeing a window into someone's life where you'd always pictured them as something else.....I saw photos of my grandmother as a little girl, holding a dog and standing in a field. Turns out, as my father told me, my grandmother's family had a nut farm, a general store, and an few oil derricks. I saw photos of a young women in junior high, in what I can imagine was the same set of akward stages her granddaughter would go though. Later there were pictures of a wedding, her children, her job. Grandma was always grandma to me. Now I see snippets of the woman she was too.

Other finds:
A photo of my parents heading out on their honeymoon - "just married" on the side of their VW and my mom wearing her Jackie O pill box hat, gloves, and red suit
A photo of my grandparents dancing and kissing - a la WWII times square sailor and nurse. Dip and all.
A photo of me and my brother in what I think is my crib when I was under 2 and my brother 4.
My parents, brother, and I when we were young. And my father had no facial hair.

Now what to do with all these photos....I'm not really a big scrapbooker, so I think I'll find some archival storage boxes for now. Project for next month? And I need to buy a scanner.....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Goodbye Gram

I've only once experienced the death of a loved one until now. The first was when I was only 12. It happened when I was in junior high. My uncle died. He and my aunt were so good to me. I remember lots of trips to the beach, building sand castles, and playing with their ever lasting supply of poodles. When you're 12, death isn't real. It's not something that comes with great understanding. Frankly, I don't think age gives us that understanding either.

It's to my grandmother that I now must say goodbye. I selfishly want to be able for her to meet her future great grandchildren, for wanting her to be with our family for years to come. Instead, fate had other plans. So instead of saying goodbye, I'll say hello to all the wonderful things I remember about her --

All the times she took me to the club, where we had (and I still to this day think this) the world's best hamburgers. I remember eating a hamburger and having a root beer. I don't think I ever waiting a half hour before running back into the pool. She kept her membership for years after her body was willing to let her play golf just so us grandkids could go to the pool and have burgers during our summer breaks.

The one time, gosh I was so embarrassed, but laugh at something only a cantankerous grandmother can do, that she'd just picked me up from a cross-country flight and I was starving. We stopped at Burgerville (yum - I just avoid the "secret" sauce which I'm pretty sure isn't ketchup + thousand island dressing). We kept waiting and waiting at the drive through and to my horror, my grandmother yelled into the speaker "is this fast food or what?"

Or the time that we drove up the Gorge and she took me to tea The Gorge Hotel (back when it was still a grand old place). We stopped at Bonneville dam and told me all kinds of stories about working at BPA. It was a like a second family for her; she was a like a little den mother to all these reprobate line men who were getting a firm hand of guidance (and chocolate cookies from time to time). In return, she developed lasting friendships that she carried with her until she died.

She always remembered what us grandkids liked, and year after year made sure she got it for us. She helped us out when we needed it, giving me the present of paying off a small college loan when I graduated from undergraduate and giving us seed money for the 1st home ES and I purchased.

Even as I child I remember her having stuff, a lot of stuff. So much stuff that there was a path through the garage from her car to the door. So much stuff we just to joke about the Mickey Mouse doll she bought when I was 8 that was meant to be a Christmas present. It was never to be seen again. When we started going through her house, we found so many things that were never opened. Dishes and small appliances (although used) that made been meticulously put back in their original boxes and put back in the garage. I opened a closet and thought "if there's ever a wrapping paper famine, we'll not go uncovered." She had dozens of rolls for every conceivable occasion. Things to make bows, and ribbons.

Although the garage was choked full of stuff, she knew where everything was. If you'd ask her where the ziplock bags were, she'd tell you the 3rd cabinet past the baked beans, but before the creamed corn. Perhaps it was growing up when she did, as I think she was always afraid of running out of things, especially food. I think as she got older, it was more that the things became a substitute for having others around her. They gave her comfort and until she left the house, it remained relatively unchanged for years.

She was a great crafter. Evidence of this lies all over my parents house, mainly at Christmas. She made our Christmas stockings. We all still have ours, it's just that now we've integrated them into our own families. Tree skirts, Christmas decorations/hangups, bells, Christmas balls. She was very talented and looked arts and crafts. She only gave it up, when her arthritis got to be too much.

I remember that she was always taking me out - dinner, shopping, a drive. We had such fun together. I liked to give her a hard time and she gave it right back to me. Although I still remember the one time (I think I was 14 or 15), that I went into Nordstorms (just for a sec...turned into a lot longer than that) and she thought I had been kidnapped or something. This was days before cell phones and Amber alerts. She didn't take me shopping much after that for quite awhile. I think she was afraid on the next time in, I'd not come back.

She used to joke that I inherited her love of coats, purses, and shoes. Ask my husband, this is no joke.

She was working on a project for all the grandkids when she had her fall. She was sorting family photos (some way back to her childhood and before) for each of the grandkids. We stumbled upon the boxes in one of the bedrooms. We took out the boxes and started looking through photos. I'd ask my dad who this and that person was. Trouble is, without any writing, and lots of siblings on my grandmothers side (including twins with rhyming names - Merle and Earl) it was often difficult to tell. I found a few of my dad, including one where he and the neighborhood kids were making mud pies. Back before the toys did all your playing for you.

One memory that I wish I could have had was of her playing golf. She lived and breathed the sport. She was quite good in her day. And she had an amazing golf bag. Bright faux alligator skinned bag with professional clubs. Steel stafted. Today's clubs are graphite. These are a lot more friendly on the arms. Less reverb. They just have the panache however, of my grandma's clubs. She gave them to me when I moved out to NY and I have them to this day.

My mother and I went through boxes and boxes of my grandmother's jewelery. Most of the pieces were fancy costume pieces. She never pierced her ears, but she loved earrings. She also had dozens of broaches. Spangly and colorful. As we looked through her pieces, I think we saw the 40s to the 80s in her pieces - Bakelite, rhinestones, crystals, all the way to pure plastic. I only kept a few pieces, including a set of fake pearls that my grandfather gave her. Every time I wear them, it makes me feel a little closer to them both. In one of the jewelery boxes was a telegram. The words had been printed on a Telex (google this if you don't know what it is) and pasted to the Western Union telegram. It was interesting seeing a little piece of history. She still had all her old ID cards from the service, including those from when they were overseas. Her international driver's licence was paper with type (and handwritten) notations. Felt like I was in some sort of family historical museum. There was even my grandfather's dog tags. Four in all. One for each grandchild. We found some old receipts (including a Pan Am plane ticket) and papers and even a credit card (it was 1/3 of the size of today's cards).

Grandma D had not been doing well for the past year and a half. After she fell and broke her femur, she never did return home. Never did drive again (although this was good thing, as we thought she shouldn't be on the road anymore, irregardless). She always talked like she was going home. Didn't want things to change. Thought she be up and about in a matter of time. Her zestful spirit was a stubborn one, and when she refused to cooperate with the physical therapist and get out of bed, she started sinking further away from us. My parents found an adult care home (in a person's house - 5 residents total) less than a mile from their house. She began to slip into a different place from ours, thinking my father was still a boy or that they were living back on the farm in Minnesota. Every now and then though, she'd surprise you, and say something that let you glimpse the old grandma D.

So here's to my grandmother, who liked to "tell it like it is." Here's my way to tell it: Goodbye and safe travels on your journey to heaven. I know you'll give St. Peter a run for his money at the Gates. We miss you. We love you.