tall or short?

vs.

Hey all, I’m doing a survey. I’m trying to gussy up my craft room a bit, which includes getting a new table. The question is, do I want a regular table or something counter height? Would it give my back a bit of a break if I’m standing at a counter or sitting at a table? Lower tables are easier to come by, but higher tables are kind of nice. HELP!

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let there be (recessed) light

The electricians finished today. Normally having your house rewired is one of those absurdly expensive undertakings with almost no visible reward except for the comfort of knowing that your house probably won’t burn down now due to electrical malfunctions in your 100+ year old wiring. However, when we got the estimate, the electrician recommended having recessed lights installed in the living room and dining room. I was hesitant at first, and not just because he was trying to upsell a project that would add another 30% to the bill. I have definitely felt like the first floor tends to feel like a dank and drab pit, but putting in recessed lighting just felt like such a can of worms. I’m gonna be perfectly honest, sometimes working on this house feels like putting lipstick on a pig. When you’re trying not to do a complete gut job, it’s really tough to know how much to do before the house starts to feel incongruous. Like super modern stainless steel kitchen + dinged up molding with nine layers of paint and uneven walls isn’t terribly appealing. Yes, that looks fabulous in magazines, not so much in my own house. So I felt like recessed lighting was just going to draw attention to the fact that the rest of the house looks like crap. Ok, so I’m being a tad unfair. But it just seemed like a modern feature that would feel out of place among the hodgepodge.

Still, Bill the electrician insisted that I think about it, that it would actually probably make the room feel bigger and the ceilings feel higher, and would add to the charm without overshadowing it. Bill’s a good salesman. But to his point, they were poking a bunch of holes in everything, so why not poke some more.

SO we did it. And you know what? It is AMAZING. I never knew lighting could make me feel this way. The first floor now feels open and airy and fancy. I finally feel like I’m living in a big girl house. Not to mention we now have something to show for that humungous check we wrote.

LIVING ROOM BEFORE:
DSC_0789

LIVING ROOM AFTER:
DSC_0786

DINING ROOM AFTER:
Dining room lighting - after

I wish I knew how to take photos that would give you all a sense of the difference, but I did my best here. I guess you’ll all just have to come to the party. Yes Leann, we’re having a party! Spring Fling in late May – pencil us in. That should give us *just* about enough time to clean up the plaster dust.

The next phase

Ohhhhhh folks!  Big things are in the works in these here parts.  Beginning tomorrow a team of electricians will descend on the house and turn it into a swiss cheese, yet again.  Then at some point (hopefully not too long) after that, our regular contractor is coming to make it into a whole cheese again, along with some other projects here and there.  Then, Henry Sanding Floor comes to refinish the stairs (which we should have done when he did the rest of the house way back before we moved in but we cheaped out as usual).  And then…….WE’RE DONE!

Ok ok, so we won’t be totally done.  There’s still the front door to contend with, and repainting all the walls that will be damaged during the swiss-cheesing, and the vestibule, and general decorating.  But the bulk of the large (and ridiculously expensive) projects will be completed.  And then maybe….just maybe….I’ll feel like we’re in a good place with things.

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.

will you wear my pin?

Just a quick note to let all of you know that I am fully obsessed with Pinterest. I signed up ages ago but had this elderly moment of “What is this ‘Pinterest’? I don’t get it. You pin things? How do you do that? And there’s boards? What’s the difference between a board and a pin? Why am I following people already? Why is this person following me? This doesn’t make any sense. Forget it.” Then I spent all of three and a half minutes figuring it out and I’ll never go back. Sorry, Tumblr, there’s a new social media outlet in town. But we can still hang out sometimes.

Follow Me on Pinterest

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you don’t need Hurricane to know which way the wind blows

Well well, an earthquake and a hurricane in one week. Not too bad for the Northeast! Hope all of you made it through safe and sound. My parents and brother are currently without power (which means I’m losing half my audience here), but as for the Passyunk Palace, we were very lucky and got by with a couple of inches of water in the basement. I was actually a little disappointed that we didn’t even lose power at any point, as I was looking forward to playing some board games by the Coleman lantern, but I guess it’s for the best. But of course having power enabled us to sit fixated in front of the tv listening to Hurricane Schwartz say “I told you so” for 36 hours.

In addition to taking lots of naps, watching some movies, reading some books, and taking some more naps, we passed the time by…

hanging up some art in the hallway…
hallway art

playing with our new Dyson vacuum (this is from just one quick run over the carpet – SO GROSS…yet so satisfying!)…
first run of the Dyson

and trying to keep Porter as happy as possible, considering he hates the rain, and hates being toweled off even more…

Porter toweling off

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annnnndddd we’re back.

Every time I stop and think about how I neglect this little blog, and start to feel guilty, but then make myself feel better by assuming that nobody cares anyway, someone pops up to contradict me. Hope you’re happy, Brenda!

So let’s see…what have we been up to….

I’m sure you’re sitting there assuming that Greg and I did not succeed with our 2011 challenge to finish the house by the first day of summer. And of course you’d be correct in that assumption. HOWEVER. I will say that we did make some good progress, namely that every room in the house is now officially painted, including the miles and miles of vertical wall space in the hallways. Oh, actually we didn’t do anything with the vestibule yet, damn! Okay, so like 98% of the walls are painted.

Personally I think summer is way better suited for things like picnics and hikes and days at the beach and walks to get ice cream than, say, slaving in a sweaty house. So we generally let ourselves off the hook for not working on it in the summer.

So in order to stall and give myself more time to actually work on things, I shall commence catch-up on stuff we’re already done. Beginning with…

The hallway. The funny thing about home improvement projects is that sometimes you put something off and put something off and get hives at the mere thought of a certain project. Come to think of it, that sounds like every project we take on. It was like this with the hallway painting. Our second and third floor hallway involves lots of surface area with cracks and old holes left from various electricians, in addition to the typical high and hard-to reach spots that staircase hallways tend to be plagued with. We brainstormed about half-assed scaffolding, bendy ladders, and just paying someone else to deal with it. This act of dread occupied about a month and a half of our thoughts. In the end, we settled for a Shurline edger on a pole and it worked like a charm.

(I really wish we had enough natural light in the hallway to take decent pictures, but until I figure out how to work my fancy camera better, this is the best I could do)

BEFORE:

hallway: before

hallway: before

hallway: before

hallway: before

hallway: before

The other part was choosing a color, which I hate hate hate. I’m terrible at picking colors, especially for surfaces that will occupy so much of the house. I didn’t want to jerk around with figuring out complementary shades, so instead we decided to just pick one color and go with it. After applying half a dozen patches of sample colors that basically gave us no insight whatsoever, I chose a color called “Toasted Marshmallow” – controversial because of my love and Greg’s hatred of the sugary gelatin treats of the same name. So after lots of patching and a few coats of primer, we dove in and started. And it looked…….basically exactly the same!! You can imagine the bitchy tiff that ensued when we realized that the color wasn’t really a color at all, but basically just a more refined version of the bare walls that we had stared at for the previous year. But in the end neither of us could face another five trips to home depot and six 3/4 full cans of paint cluttering the basement, so we opted to stick with it. Of course painting for days on end when you already know you don’t like the color is less than a joy.

AFTER:

hallway: after

hallway: after

hallway: after

Then about two days later, a funny thing happened. I started to like Toasted Marshmallow. REALLY like it, actually. In the end, we both feel like it gives the hallway a clean and crisp look, and won’t compete with the oodles of artwork we plan to hang on the walls…someday, when we get around to it.

inspiration: lizzy’s place

My friend Lizzy’s apartment was featured on Design*Sponge! I need to get her to be my personal decorator.

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guest room: before and after

Before the holidays we had our contractor do some work on our bathroom and guest room, so I should probably catch up on that.

As I look back at the old photos I took when we first set up the guest room, they *almost* make it look not terrible. That is, until you see the close-up shots. But we knew eventually we’d have to rewire the electric, replace the light, and do some serious patching. We spent what felt like ages working on spackling, sanding and painting, but in the end it just never looked right, I really hated the color we chose, the map was just a bit too much for such a small room, and a roof leak ultimately gave us the excuse we needed to get the work done.

Before…
IMG_1580

IMG_1581

IMG_1583

Guest room - before

Guest room - before

Guest room - before

Guest room - before

Guest room - before

Guest room - before

Our contractor rewired the room (oh the endless saga of knob and tube wiring), skim coated the walls to make them all nice, put new trim around the windows and baseboards along the floors, removed the monstrosity of a built-in air conditioner, and hung a ceiling fan.

After…

guest room after

guest room after

It’s not quite a done deal – it still needs some things hung on the wall, a dresser for storage, and some new curtains. The computer station is a temporary thing, necessitated by the fact that both Greg and I worked from home after the snow storm last week and would have been throwing elbows in the office together. Although I must say, there is something about having a simple and clean computer set up that is so much more conducive to constructive computing than the state of chaos that our office is currently in.

Overall I love the room. I love the color and the lack of clutter – it feels very fresh and relaxing. Now if only we could figure out how to make the rest of the house feel this way.