Category Archives: Uncategorized

Unlazy Sunday

Here’s what I’m up to instead of being outside on this beautiful Sunday:

Deep cleaning the bedroom


And recaulking our disgusting tub:



Gotta take advantage of these rare days when I actually feel like doing something on the house!

kitchen love: fridge

I recently heard someone refer to housework as “home care” and I really like that. Somehow just changing the language makes it feel less like work and more like the relationship with the house I was talking about in my last post. The idea of “caring” for our home sounds so much more appealing than “working” on it.

I always tell myself I’m going to participate in the Apartment Therapy Home Cure, but guess what? I know myself too well, and I know that the schedule that’s required to keep up with that is just not going to happen in my life. Instead I’ve decided to just go with a modified version that I can do on my own time. I’m planning to work on each room in the house, one at a time, and give each room a little TLC. And in keeping with the “monotasking” resolution, I’m not going to think about any other rooms until I’m finished.

I’m starting out with the kitchen, which is a room that is pretty much set, but there’ve been some straggler things I haven’t done, as well as some upkeep items I need to take care of. So yesterday, January 1st, I dragged myself off the couch and out of my pjs and took the opportunity to get started by cleaning the refrigerator. Like, REALLY cleaning it. I got all up in that fridge’s business and gave it the cleaning of a lifetime. I found areas that I never knew existed, and accordingly filth that I never knew existed. I found an entire little bag of Babybel cheeses in a weird nether-region behind one of the crisper drawers. I employed the use of sponges and dish soap, toothpicks, antibacterial wipes, paper towels, you name it. I threw out stuff that had expiration dates of 2012. I cleaned that mofo like nobody’s business.











So here’s the kitchen list as it currently stands:

scrub floor
wash windows
sand and oil countertops
clean fridge
clean out cabinets
hang a print
clean the oven
wash all canisters
fix vent hood
repaint windowsill
touch up cabinets
hang shelf in window
purge uneeded things
door curtain – wash and hem


30 day challenge: Pomodoro cleaning

Although I love the autumn and everything that comes with the change of seasons, as soon as the weather turns crisp my mind can’t help jumping ahead to the most depressing day of the year: January 2nd. Last year’s long cold snowy winter was pretty torturous for everyone, so this year I’m trying to take a few steps to avoid the soul crushing doldroms that January brings. Firstly, I bought Greg snowshoes for his birthday, in the hopes that it will give us a fun outdoor activity to get us out of the house. And secondly, I’d like to try to set 30 day challenges for myself. I’m thinking maybe if I have something to focus on during the dreary months it will give my life a little more purpose than just shivering on the couch and counting the minutes to April. Going forward I’ll probably try to start these on the 1st of the month, but in the interest of getting things started I’m starting out breaking the rules.

September 30 Day Challenge: Pomodoro cleaning

Cleaning is something that I just hate. It feels like one of those things that you spend hours toiling over and before you know it the house is filthy and you have to start over again. It’s like cooking – I just can’t quite get over the fact that you can’t just do it all and be done with it forever. We’ve tried having “Monday Cleaning Night” but you can imagine how popular that was in the house – combining a Monday with cleaning. I thought of instituting a chore jar, but sort of figured it would play out like Lisa trying to get Homer and Bart to help out around the house:

Lisa: Okay, now we’re gonna draw jobs from the chore hat!
Homer: Come onnnn ‘bikini inspector’…. ‘Scrub toilet’?!? Okay, that was a practice…Practice…practice…. Okay, here we go – ‘feed fish’.
Bart: I’ll supervise!
Lisa: You know, the reason for the hat…
Homer: Oh, it’s a great hat. No one’s questioning the hat.
Lisa: Will you at least do the dishes?
Homer: Lisa, I’ll do the dishes when I pick it out of the chore hat and it’s not a practice….. See, there it is! But that was a practice. The system works!

My mom and sister and I, in our many conversations about the drudgery of housework, have talked about using a timer to get stuff done. But like most things, even though I know it’s a good idea and it works, for some inexplicable reason I just never do it. So I thought it would be a perfect experiment – can you really keep a large-ish house clean on 25 minutes a day?

I’m going to refer to this by the official commercialized version, The Pomodoro Techique, mainly just because “Pomodoro cleaning” sounds a bit punchier than the alternative “25 minute cleaning”. Plus the website is kind of neat and helpful.

Here’s the rules I’ve given myself for this challenge:

  • I’m only committing to doing this on weekdays, because weekends are for fun things, not cleaning
  • Because I will only be devoting 5 days a week to this challenge, which doesn’t cover every room in the house, I’m going to focus on the more heavily trafficked areas
  • If I decide that I want to have a free evening, I reserve the right to do multiple Pomodoros in one day
  • Main areas of focus will be the living room, dining room, kitchen, hallways, bedroom and 2nd floor bathroom, with the guest room, office and craft room being bonus areas

Ok wish me luck! I’ll keep you all updated. Unless of course I give up after two days, in which case I’ll just delete this post and pretend I never said any of this.

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ten years

World Trade Center

I can’t believe it’s been ten years. Ten years ago I had just graduated college, worked at Kaplan in New York for the summer, gone to Montauk with my parents over Labor Day weekend, and was in the midst of packing to leave the next day on a five week trip to Europe with my boyfriend when my dad woke me up to tell me that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn’t think it was a big deal, hadn’t that happened before? A little Cessna maybe? I came downstairs to see the surreal footage on tv. Then I saw the second plane hit and my mind reeled. Watching those buildings disappear just did not compute in my head. Terrorism wasn’t really in my consciousness at that point, as it probably wasn’t in most normal Americans’ consciousness. I’m not really sure I ever thought I’d face that kind of historic “where were you when” moment in my adult life. The entire world changed that day, and even though in some ways I can remember it like it was yesterday – the clear blue sky and fluffy clouds, the way my room looked when I woke up – it feels like I can barely remember a world in which people felt safe.

The 2011 Challenge

Folks, the Passyunk Palace weighs on my mind in a lot of ways. I know that a home is a constantly evolving thing that can never truly be considered “finished”. I’m ok with that, and if it were I’d probably get very bored very quickly. My problem is that in the three and a half years since we’ve moved in, I have never felt that the house has even reached a good jumping-off point for changes. Yes, we’ve had a lot of things done to the house, but they’re still half done. So for example, we had a contractor remodel the guest room and bathroom, but we haven’t done much since then other than slap a coat of paint on the walls. We spent a fortune having the kitchen redone and I don’t even have a curtain in the window. I feel like we’re still in the remodeling phase and I can’t even feel comfortable transitioning to the real “decorating” phase. As a result I have all sorts of ideas floating around that I can’t explore yet, and the house doesn’t really feel like home.

Added to this is the general feeling that I’ve been losing focus in the past few months. My days don’t really add up to anything and I don’t really feel like I’ve accomplished anything in quite a long time. Most nights I come home from work, make dinner, maybe do some reading or watch a movie, maybe vacuum or dust, but my weeks sort of pass by and in the end I feel like I can’t even say what it is of any real value that I’ve accomplished in that time.

So, what is to be done about this? Well I’ve decided that to get myself focused and back into the game, I’m setting a challenge for ourselves: Greg and I must finish everything on the house to-do list by the first day of summer, June 22nd 2011! (Do you like the way I’ve included Greg on this, despite the fact that it’s me who feels unfocused?) I think an official challenge like this might reinvigorate me to get things done in the new year, and a deadline (that I will blog our progress toward, of course) is the perfect clincher.

So this leaves us with about 21 weeks to complete the following list. At which point I can change my focus over to the more fun details of frivolous decorating (and re-doing things I wind up not liking). Not too bad, presuming we can quit our whining and get off our asses. Oh, and maybe as added incentive, we’ll have a big party when it’s finished!

Here’s our updated to-do list:

Living Room
new tv & stereo stand
– strip and repaint fireplace
new armchair
– paint ceiling trim
– paint front window frame
– paint and add legs to record storage

Dining Room
paint walls
– new sideboard
new windows
– frost windows
light fixture
– paint hutch
– skim coat walls
– repaint
– new rug
– new basement door

gut completely and new everything!
radiant floor heat
new floor
new drywall
brick up north window
new ceiling
open up archway
new cabinets
subway tile backsplash
paint walls
paint trim
paint door
stain outside of door
– shelf in window
– curtain
– artwork
– mug storage
– reseal counter tops
– touch up paint

Front Entrance/Vestibule
table for mail, keys, etc
– paint entryway table
– hooks for coats
– retile
– paint/wallpaper vestibule

scrape wallpaper
– spackle holes from wiring
light fixtures
– paint walls
– paint stairs
– table at top of 3rd floor
– new shelves/table in 2nd floor hallway
– 3rd floor hallway curtain

Powder Room
– wallpaper
– new floor
– new door

– shelves in closet
new windows
quarter round
– new door
– artwork over bed

Dressing Room (now closet)
scrape wallpaper
quarter round
new window
rewire light fixture
– dresser situation
new doors
– get rid of door
– accessories storage

Laundry Room
– more storage boxes
– curtains
– artwork

Guest Room
empty out boxes
rewire light fixture
quarter round
sand walls
new windows
– new door
new outlets
get rid of old wall air conditioner
– dresser
– artwork

remove/replace paneling
vanity & sink
– shelves
new medicine cabinet
new window
– new door
rewire light
– paint trim
– hang shelf
– artwork
– shower curtain
– curtain
– touch up tub

wall shelves
shelves in closet
quarter round
– re-hang door
more storage
new windows
– add more outlets
– get rid of crap
– touch up paint
– hang artwork
– better closet storage
– new filing cabinet
– get rid of old computer
– paint small storage dressers
– new curtains

Craft Studio
scrub floor
paint closet
put up shelves
new window
– paint trim
– new trim around window?
– closet storage
– better storage boxes
– new desk/table
– big pinboard
– curtains

paint cinderblock
trellis for privacy
– new gate door

Everywhere Else
– house numbers
fix wood piece alongside 2nd floor roof
replace stack pipe
– get rid of old washer and dryer
– clean and reorganize basement
– new storm door
– new front door/paint front door
– paint trim around front entryway

What do you think? Are we up to the challenge?

clean slate (and sheets)

Unfortunately the completion of the laundry room project has coincided with general craziness at work, which means I have no desire to spend any length of time on the computer when I get home.

But yes, the project is coming along! And by “coming along” I mean the contractors have come and gone and now it’s up to us to finish the job, which is of course why the whole thing is dragging. Also, taking photographs of tiny rooms is not the easiest thing, so I’ve been avoiding it. But we now have a functioning (and may I add fancy) washer and dryer, along with a plethora of shelves for storage. We’ve still got some finishing touches to add – we need a folding table, a place to store the detergent, some hooks to hang an ironing board, and other small things. But I’ve been catching up on a huge backlog of laundry for the past week or so (Porter is very sad that neither of his dog beds smell like cheese anymore) and it feels sooooo good to put on clean soft clothes and sleep in crisp sheets again. Oh, and the days of the harsh buzzer are gone – our washer & dryer actually plays a happy little song when the clothes are done. I never thought doing laundry would actually be fun, but the sound effects really get you pumped to do some washing.







We haven’t done much with the master bedroom closet other than paint, so no progress to report there. Oh, and as for the collateral damage, it’s pretty much as patched as it’s going to be at this point, until we get around to redoing the bathroom, that is.



how bad is it? we’re living in a swiss cheese with doors

Sorry for the repeat title for any of my Facebook friends, I just feel it really suits our house at the moment.

Well, the project is coming along. I *think* well, but I couldn’t swear to it. We have two separate rooms now, and the plumbing is done. This is sort of two projects together – the laundry room/closet, and also replacing the stack pipe. We decided to have them done together because our contractor could use the open stack chase to run the wire, and then patch up the wall when the stack is done. Of course the stack turned out to be in worse condition than we thought, and needed to be replaced from the basement up to the second floor toilet. Apparently you could basically break the cast iron with your hand if you tried hard enough. So despite the extra damage that was incurred, I feel that a few big holes in the wall are a fair trade off for keeping raw sewage out of the walls, right?

On a good note, the rooms look great so far. The laundry room is pretty sizable, plenty of room for lots of shelves. The closet is pretty big too, although it’s tough to tell how spacious it will be when we actually get shelves and bars in there.

It’s also incredibly difficult to take good pictures of a tiny room that is nothing but drywall. And also I haven’t had time to figure out how to use my fancy camera properly yet, so that’s an issue in itself. But in the interest of documentation, here’s some photos:

Closet in bedroom:

early stages of the new bedroom closet

Laundry room:

early stages of the laundry room

Stack stuff:

stack replacement

let's look at the damage together

will you please look at my damage?

hot water music

We’re having the hot water heater replaced today! Hurray for long hot showers! Hurray for shaving again! Hurray for cleaner clothes and dishes!

classing up the joint

Our friend Kiersten gave us one of her paintings a few weeks ago, and we finally got around to hanging it up. Plaster walls are a little intimidating to hang things in, especially anything moderately heavy. The only other large thing we’ve tried to hang came crashing down a day later. But we finally just put our fear aside, grabbed a couple of masonry nails, and went to town. With our new found confidence, there’s nothing to stop our art collecting now. Move over Steve Wynn, the Bennetts are entering the market!


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five more minutes

Oh Porter Pants, I didn’t want to get out of bed today either.