Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The work continues

I am starting to think that maybe we need to set aside a few days each month, at least one of them a weekend day, where we committ to doing NO house related activities. For there is always something to do, for the foreseeable future at least, and maybe it would be nice to have a break that did not involve the stress of days where we do not get anything accomplished just because we get caught up in other things, or have plans, or are just tired. Hmm. . .maybe. . .

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"They believe it's Spring!" or "Our front garden provides hope"

I know we are still in the depths of February (hopefully to be followed by the shallows of March), but do not despair dear reader! They believe it's Spring!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

January 27th redux

On my way to work today I went outside and discovered the newspaper. This would not normally be surprising, however, today's paper was already inside.

This paper was still wrapped and dry, sitting on top of a snowbank that has melted 6 inches to a foot in the last few days. I opened the paper and discovered that it was actually from January 27th. That was almost two weeks ago.

Apparently, in the time between the paper being delivered and us trying to find the paper outside on the morning of January 27th, it had snowed enough to bury the paper. To me, that is pretty impressive. . .and a little sad.

Yours Sincerely,
Spring-ready in Suburbia

Thursday, February 3, 2011


These Isabelle Abramson pendants ( would look lovely in our half bath or our kitchen.

As would this one:

Is it okay to buy things in anticipation of renovation eventually getting to those rooms? Probably not, right? That's a little too much like buying pants that do not fit in anticipation of a diet. Also, these are kind of pricey. Would it be possible to get the same look by wiring a vase? We will have to keep our eyes open for possible candidates.

In closing, let me just say. . .


Monday, January 31, 2011

PA pride

I was in a hiring lunch today and one of the theater professors (a NYC resident for 15 years) mentioned that she was in denial that she lived in Pennsylvania.

Instant response from me - ME TOO!

Perhaps not the best impression to leave with our job candidate, but it was a honest response.

In addition, at a dinner party this weekend, I mentioned that I would probably root for Greenbay in the Superbowl. This apparently deeply offended another guest who asked me where my Pennsylvania Pride was!?!?


Yes. He was serious. Sigh.

Not that PA is all bad. I just did not move to the East Coast to live in PA, and whatever magic that is here has not caught me yet. I am still waiting. Perhaps thus the focus on our home. I like our home and love the people and pets in it. The magic there has definitely caught me.

In regards to PA, I like the candles in the windows, but the obsession with hunting, ice and snow with little public transport, donuts fried in lard, and terrible roads has not yet caught my fancy.

In short, I am in denial and up to my elbows in home renovation. All and all I find it a pretty good place to be.

Go Greenbay!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. . .

but not ice. At least the snow is pretty when one does not have to drive in it. The ice seems to serve no purpose. Where art thou Spring?

Friday, January 21, 2011

More snow

I got in my car this morning after hours (literally 5:30 to almost 8 AM) of shoveling by my husband and our neighbor, during which I slept (slacker - I know).  After driving for about 45 seconds the traffic report declared that the road I wanted to take was icy and "had not been touched." I turned back around.

I so wanted to stay home today and work on caulking molding, but I did not want to take a vacation day. So after another hour, I got back in my car and headed to work in the Corolla. The drive could have been worse. Most of the snow I encountered was at the very beginning and very end of my journey.

So I will have to caulk tomorrow. Here is hoping that those stupid nail holes finally look filled after this coat of caulk. The holes look small, but they are apparently infinite and refuse to be filled. Argh!

Safe travels everyone!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Weekend summary

This weekend we had big accomplishment plans, mostly involving molding. While we did get many things done, our list still had some uncrosssed-out sections at the end Sunday night.

However, we did finish putting up the crown molding in the master bedroom and started and finished putting up the crown molding in the guest bedroom. We also filled many nail holes in said molding and painted. Per usual, each project took more time and effort than we had anticipated. Slow and steady, slow and steady. . .

Also - we found the camera. Yay!!

So pictures now may actually follow!

Weekend update

- What did you guys do this weekend?
- Worked on the house and watched football.
- What else?
- That's it. We're pretty much old now.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What will the future bring, I wonder?

Sound of Music, yes, anyone?

Specifically, will this weekend bring lots of cross-outs on our to-do list? Only time (and maybe the Magic 8 ball if I had one here) will tell.

House to-do list for the upcoming weekend
Crown Molding
Chair Rail Molding
Base Molding
Finding the camera

Wish us luck!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Another day, another 300 dollars at Home Depot (or Lowe's)

With all of our hard work last weekend, we ran out or crown molding. Lest you think crown molding is not hard work, let me suggest that you pick-up something 8 to 12 feet long and moderately heavy, stand-up, hold it over your head, and then try and read the rest of this post. Then after that, press that long heavy thing against a sloped ceiling, so that it hugs the ceiling in all its weird curves and swerves, and then judge.

Anyway, we actually had one unhappy piece of crown left at our house, but it was too dinged-up to use in a long section, so we bought more. We also were looking for chair molding for the guest room (an adventure since the beadboard is so many different heights in there - apparently the walls of the room are on different levels), base molding for the guest room, chalkboard paint (for a kitchen calendar dream that I will discuss later), and various other home improvement must-haves. Have I mentioned that oftentimes now the cashiers at Lowe's and Home Depot recognize us? All told, we left $300 poorer, but we beat the snow, and got much of what we needed, so it was not a total loss.

We did NOT, however, manage to find chair molding for the guest room. I will explain why in a moment. In the meantime, to give you some insight into buying molding off-the-rack here are our tips. We will call them -

Tips for people who have not purchased molding at a Big Box store but are looking to do so:

1. Set aside a good chunk of time. Do not expect an in-and-out kind of experience. You will need time to find what you like in the material you want, wrestle what you like out of the bins, and then make sure the pieces you want match and are the right size.

2. Buy in bulk. The packs are so much cheaper then buying pieces individually. Of course, you can usually only get a 5-pack in the most commonly used patterns, so this may not work for you. If you do buy the pack, check very carefully for damage. If there is only one damaged piece you might still consider buying the pack if, for instance, the 5-pack price is still less than buying 4 pieces individually. Often you can use parts of damaged pieces for smaller areas or corners. This leads to the next tip:

3. As mentioned, check every piece for damage. As a note, they will pretty much all have damage. You need to assess what damage is okay for your project. If you are painting the molding, is it a ding that you can paint or caulk over? Is it an area that can be seen once the molding is on the wall? Will the curve come out of the wood once you put it on the wall? Can the flaw be fixed by cutting a small piece off the end? Pick the most damage free pieces the store has.

4. Check the length against your car's abilities. Molding comes in many different sizes, but the shortest we have seen is 8 feet long. Figure out how you are going to get it home before you purchase. Luckily, our all purpose minivan plus a free red flag and twine from the store allow us to purchase up to the 12 ft sections. Someday maybe we will tackle the 16 footers, but that day has not yet come my friends.

5. Check the material. Do you need pieces that you can stain or paint? Do you want them pre-primed? Are you okay with MDF or do you want solid wood? Make sure you know what you have purchased previously, so if you come back to get more it will match.

6. Check if the price listed is per foot or per piece. Ample conversation, "Wow! This one is so cheap, and it is pine not MDF. Nope, never mind. That one is priced by the foot. it is actually twice as expensive."

7. Check very carefully to see if the pieces match each other and what you already have. We bring a small section of the old molding to the store to check if it matches. Do not just assume that things in the same rack are the same type or style of molding.

Back to the story of no chair rail:
So on Tuesday night we were at the store. I arrived first and started looking for thick chair molding. I found a really nice piece that was not in the rack with this picture, but it looked the most like this picture:

Pretty, yes? I realize the picture is not great, but the iPhone does not like to take close-ups. So I figured out that we would need about 5 pieces of 8' chair rail to complete the guest room. I pulled out 3 pieces from the rack and set them up on the floor to compare. They all had the same pattern, but one was about half an inch wider than the others. This would present a problem where the corners matched. I then pulled more and more out of the rack until I had the whole rack out on display:

It is difficult to tell from the picture, but the left four pieces match, as do the middle three and the right three. However, none of those groups matched each other. Grr. The rightmost three pieces were also a different pattern. I would have been happy with either the leftmost or the center sets, but I needed five, not four or three

By this time the husband had also arrived, listened to my tirade, and was trying to find matching crown molding at the other end of the aisle. After wandering the aisle looking for just one more piece to match, saying hello to Bob in the doors department who asked how we were and how was the house going (we are there quite a bit, did I mention that already?) I found someone department-specific to help.

After listening to my story, nodding sympathetically, telling me that the restock guy was only in on Fridays, sighing over customers that put things on the wrong racks,  looking at what I wanted, picking a piece off the rack that he thought might match (it did not), having all the pieces that I had taken out fall on him (it looked painful, but he seemed to rebound nicely), and agreeing that was all the store had, the very nice man took my number and said the Friday molding guy would call me. We asked if we should buy the four and come back for the fifth, but he thought that was a bad idea. I take this as him saying that there may never be a fifth, why get your hopes up?

So we still do not have chair molding for the guest room, which was one of our weekend goals, but we will try again soon.

Until then, if you see Bob in doors, tell him we say hello!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Pictures to follow" - even I have stopped believing

I realize that I keep promising pictures. The problem at the moment seems to be mainly lack of a camera with a flash. I have my iPhone, but it is sans flash. For weeks our actual camera sat on top of the dresser, but the charger was still in a box, so the camera was unusable. Then, after the holidays, miracle of miracles, I found the camera charger. Hizzah!

Sadly, before we left for the holidays I cleaned the whole house, including putting away the camera. I now am unable to remember where the camera is.


Pictures (I truly hope) to follow. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Suburbs vs NYC

I was gchatting with my friend Vic the other day, and we were discussing crown molding. (Obsessed? Perhaps.) She owns a gorgeous condo in Manhattan - home of beautiful architectural details and delicious dumplings. We live in a townhome that has all the architectural detail of a moving crate. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Putting up the crown molding was such a pain because our ceilings are crooked. We have serious wall slope.
Vic: Me too! You can really notice it when you look at my built-in bookcase.
Me: Built-ins? What are those? Oh yes, those are my dream. I forgot.
Vic: Slope adds character! Old buildings are like that. Is yours pre-War too?
Me: Ha! Pre-war. That's funny.

Please note: Our actual IM conversation had much less punctuation and many more lower case letters.

New York City, I miss you!

Monday, January 10, 2011


We continue to work on our lovely home. (Yes, we think our home is lovely! Despite its faults, much like your awkward and in an ugly phase junior-high child, we still love her and know she is just a scruffy duckling ready to turn into a swan.)

Our 1977 townhome is finally starting to show its potential. This is due mainly to the fact that we have had a few weekends lately with free-time. (For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of free-time, it is time where you are not out of town, at work, or have guests of your own, and where you are able to forget or ignore all the little things you really should be doing like writing Christmas thank-you notes, vacuuming up dog-hair from the carpet, or making dinner so you will not order out for the third time this week.) Free-time is delightful and hard to find. We are so pleased that the new year has provided us with some.

In our free weekends we have put up chair rail in our bedroom, put up beadboard wainscoting in the guest bedroom (that project is actually a few months old), caulked the beadboard in the guest bedroom, attempted to caulk the chair rail in our bedroom, and unclogged an extremely stubborn bathroom sink. (Thank you 25-foot snake and Team Hampo's inborn persistence and arm strength.) Yay us! Needless to say, we have muscles in new places, pride in our accomplishments, and aches in various bones and joints. The joy of the home is ours.

Pictures to follow.