Saturday, December 29, 2012

CJ's Room: Done-ish

What a whirlwind! We started this project on the Friday before Christmas and we were able to move the furniture back in on Monday morning (Christmas Eve). At which point we fled to my in-laws' and enjoyed a well-deserved break from house projects.

I got the shelves for $2 each at the Salvation Army. They were in kind of rough shape and someone had painted them (poorly) with a flat red paint, but after I sanded them, primed them, and painted them, they don't look half bad! I think they were my favorite part about the whole project. 
I made the curtains too, but that wasn't one of my favorite parts. Making curtains is a pain in the tush.

Woe-bot and St. James hanging out.

Lookin' good, floors!

I am really liking the new furniture layout. The crib used to be partially blocking the door and it was kind of hard to squeeze through.

The room still needs a few finishing touches, but...I'm going to ignore that fact for now. I'm enjoying the transformation way too much to be bothered about things like that:)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Kitchen Progress

Nemo has been working like a drone on the kitchen lately. He deserves a round of applause, a beer, and the last cookie.

Let's review. When we bought the house just shy of a year ago, the sink area looked like this:

(The cleaning supplies and random junk came with the purchase price.)

And NOW, it looks like this: 

This past week Nemo tackled that tumbled marble back splash. Isn't it gawgeous? I can't stop looking at it. I can't believe that this is my kitchen.

And here's the stove area. When we bought the house it didn't even HAVE a stove, so to say that this is a vast improvement would be the understatement of the century.

The kitchen still needs some trim and touch-ups before it can be called  complete, but it is really REALLY coming along.

While Nemo was working on the back splash this week I was making curtains and sanding and painting shelves for the speedy spruce-up of CJ's bedroom, which kicks off today and will hopefully be completed by Saturday night. Ay yi yi.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Practice Run

We are slated to makeover CJ's bedroom a few weekends from now, and before beginning we wanted to rehearse the whole laying of laminate flooring thing. So this weekend we did the floors in Nemo's study, which suffered from the same odd flooring situation as CJ's bedroom.
(When I say we, I of course mean that Nemo did all the work and I made lunch for him).

His study is a very small room (about 9'x6') at the end of the hall. I have no idea what it was used for when the house was built 100 years ago. It's too small to be a bedroom. Storage? Fainting room? Who knows.

(Remember that there's just sub floor beneath that lovely modern area rug and the "parquet" is stick-on tiles).

(That's the sub floor that the area rug was so cleverly hiding).


All in all, we're pretty pleased with the way it turned out. There were a couple of minor hitches but the entire project only took about 8 hours and it cost less than $100! We got an awesome deal on the laminate, thanks to a Black Friday sale at Lumber Liquidators.

I haven't confirmed this with Nemo, but it seemed way easier and more fun than building a kitchen from the ground up over the course of six months.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Room for CJ

At first glance, CJ's bedroom looks fine, if a little old ladyish (that's to be expected because we did actually buy the house from an old lady).
But step a little closer and you will see that it has problems. Sure the flooring looks like an area rug over parquet...

...but if you turn back a corner of the rug you will see that the parquet isn't even real--it's stick-on tiles! Not only that, but it doesn't even cover the entire room. The tiles only cover the areas that the rug doesn't. Underneath the rug is just sub floor.

 And here's the kicker--the rug has actually been tacked down on the edges to keep people from discovering this dirty secret.

I have got it in my head that I need to make-over CJ's room before Baby Girl gets here. I suspect nesting-inducing hormones are responsible for making this decision. But! My little boy deserves a little boy room, and what's more, a room with a real floor.

I have been working hard the last few weeks assembling everything that we need, and hopefully once that's done we will be able to get it done in a weekend. Sure, we should be working on kitchen stuff, but that project has been going on for absolutely ever (and by "forever" I mean six months, which is a long time) and I need a project that will make a big difference in a small amount of time. For morale, you see.

Here's a sneak peak of the project:

I can't wait to get started!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Boy Don't Eat

CJ has always found eating...difficult.  He hated the rice cereal that we gave him when he was four months old (at the pediatrician's request) so we put off solids until he was eight months old. Here we are, nine months later, and if it ain't cheddar cheese, there is a very good chance that he won't eat it. Some days are better than others and things are slowing trending in the "better" direction in general, but some days I have to resort to some odd tactics...

  • Pretend that I forgot to make him lunch, then settle onto the couch with a bowl of undesirable food for "myself". Then all of a sudden he is all "MMMMM.....MMMMMM!" and wolfing down food he once adamantly rejected.
  • Put sour cream on it. For whatever reason, that's a flavor he really enjoys. He'll eat it by the spoonful. It's pretty horrifying to watch.
  • Put it somewhere unusual. If he finds something--anything--on the floor, he will eat it out of sheer curiosity. He was ingesting mostly fuzzies and bits of paper, but it turns out that he will even eat *food* just for curiosity's sake.
  • Puree it. Sure he's about to be a big brother, but baby food is where it's at. It's just a lot easier to force a spoon of butternut squash puree between his jaws than an actual piece of squash.

Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 12)

First and foremost, it is within the realm of possibility that I will have a working dishwasher by the end of this weekend. It has been in it's place for months now, but first because the counters were delayed and then the lack of a part that had to be special ordered, it hasn't been installed. It just sits there, mocking me. Now the counters are in and the part is here! I say that it's "possible" that it will be installed only because I know from experience that sometimes these things take longer than anticipated.

I have chronic lower back pain that stems from poor posture and is exacerbated by being pregnant...a month ago I finally had enough and went to a chiropractor. I don't know how or why it works, but it DOES. After the first appointment a good 75% of my pain was gone, and it has been getting steadily better and better ever since. I can lift things! Bend over (sort of)! Get comfortable enough to sleep!

CJ got all dressed up for Halloween. Everyone thought he was a teddy bear. You can think he's a teddy bear too, if you want, but you get bonus points if you know what he was really dressed as.

After a year of great cloth diapering, everything went wrong! Well, not everything. Just major, major leaks every hour of the day. It turns out that the lamination on the inside of all of my covers wore out at almost the exact same time, as if they have a self-destruct mechanism that goes off after a certain number of uses. Usually I am not a big Black Friday fan, but I am really looking forward to it this year so I can get some replacements. Or maybe I should just potty train him. Sigh.

for a couple of weeks CJ has been running around the house saying "BEEE-OHHHH BEEE-OHHHH". I could not for the life of me figure out what he meant. Then yesterday I put two and two together. It means "P.U.", as in stinky. As in, "Kindly do something about this stink in my pants, Mama". Good to know.

Due to the fact that I will be eight months pregnant and most likely very uncomfortable and cranky, we won't be traveling to visit family this Christmas. So we are faced with the daunting challenge of making Christmas holy, beautiful, and fun all on our own for the first time ever. Must come up with some traditions, and fast!

 Can't think. Brain not working. Going to bed.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Getting Back on Track

I haven't been crafting much since...May. Everything happened in may. We started our kitchen renovation. We found out I was pregnant. CJ started going through an excruciating sleep regression. I just didn't feel like doing much besides getting rest.

I've been trying to get back into the swing of things lately. I was recently invited to a Busy Bag Exchange. For those of you who don't know, the participants of a Busy Bag Exchange make a number of DIY toddler activities beforehand and then meet up to exchange them, so each participant ends up with several different activies.

I was kind of short on funds so I was trying to come up with a craft that I already had supplies for. I finally settled on making soft books. A while ago my brother-in-law gifted me with several big binders full of outdoor fabric swatches that the landscaping store where he works was going to throw out. They have been sitting in my workroom for a long time and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to use them. The books are all a little different. Here's a couple of examples:

 I used applique patterns that I had already made for other projects so while it was a little time-intensive to make the number needed for the exchange, it required very little preparation.

The other project I'm working on is a scarf for the midwife who delivers Baby Girl. I made one for the midwife who caught CJ, so I figure I have set a precedent. I found the pattern on Ravelry and while it looks complicated, it's actually one of the simplest patterns I have worked with in a while. It is mostly just straight knitting and purling plus one row with some knit togethers and yarn overs to give it the nice lacy effect. It's something I can easily do while watching tv because it doesn't require a lot of concentration. Even so, I still  have quite a ways to go!
Next up is getting some more items in my Etsy shop, which has been sadly neglected in recent months. However, I think I may have worked my sewing machine too hard making the soft books (it's really not cut out for sewing such heavyweight fabric) so I need to see if I can repair it before I can get back to work.

Friday, October 12, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 11)

We're all going on a short trip out east in the near future. I'm really looking forward to it because I'll get to see my extended family but I'm dreading it at the same time. CJ is not a good traveler. Well, the traveling part is ok but it's the sleeping while traveling that's not. Basically, he doesn't. Not ever. He staunchly refuses to nap and wakes every 20 minutes to an hour at night. It makes it hard to enjoy trips! 

Earlier this week I bought a white noise machine to help with this problem. We usually run a box fan outside his room for white noise but that is a bit bulky to take on a trip, so we thought we would try something a little more portable. We tried it for the first time on Monday night and it was a complete disaster. He was absolutely terrified of it. I have no idea why. The machine was on when we were getting him ready for bed and he was freaking out, so we turned it off and took it out of the room but apparently the old "out of sight out of mind" thing doesn't work anymore. He was so scared that it took him an hour (with me checking on him frequently) to finally go to sleep. Needless to say, the demon machine is going back to the store.

I'm finally working on updating my music collection. I haven't synched my ipod in years. I have no idea how some of that stuff got on there. Plus there is a lot of pirated material that I want to delete. Oh, and it's still full of songs that I listened to in my youth that drop the f-bomb quite frequently. It's kind of embarrassing. But cleaning it off is a BIG JOB that I'll probably be working on for many nap times to come.

The house is almost back to it's pre-renovation state; I just have to finish reorganizing the guest room/my office and then I will no longer be mortified by the state of my home. I. am. thrilled!

I love seasonal soup. I recently made this Butternut Apple Soup recipe and it was absolutely wonderful. Plus it was super easy to make, and that's always a good thing. I'm making another batch later this week and freezing it so I can  have it on hand for the cold winter that the Farmer's Almanac is predicting.

Speaking of freezing food can you believe I've never done that before this year? Life is so much easier now that I have a collection (albeit small) of frozen meals ready to go. I am making an effort to get that freezer full to bursting before Baby Girl gets here.

I'm taking part in a program run by the county called "Moms on the Move". Basically I have to wear a pedometer every day and try to get my weekly average to about 2,000 steps above my baseline, which was 6,800 steps a day, and when  I turn in my step log I get prizes. My baseline wasn't great, considering that doctors recommend that one takes at least 10,000 steps a day. I really thought my baseline would be higher since at the end of the day I feel like I have run off my feet, but I guess I do a lot of standing (dishes, cooking, etc) rather than actual walking. So I've been making a point to walk more and I've managed to increase my average daily steps by 3,000! It's not a marathon, but it makes me feel happy!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

15 months, or, who is this toddler pitching a fit on my floor?

My baby just turned 15 months old a while back and seems to be  hitting developmental milestones--temper tantrums included--every other day. I hate to seem him growing up so fast, but I suppose it is a good thing considering that his baby sister is due to make her debut in three months or so.
He's been walking full-time for a few months now (although he still crawls for fun) and is so active that he hasn't gained any weight since his 12 month checkup. The only times he's still are when he's sleeping or looking at his books, or strapped into a carseat. He's grown 1.5 inches taller, though! He likes eating in theory (as long as it's a food he likes, i.e. toast, noodles, fruit, or cheese--not much else) but the problem we're having is that he gets bored after a few bites and wants to get down and play.

He's a climber--the other day I found him sitting on the dining room table banging away on my laptop, which I thought was safe up there. We're taking a "Baby and Me" class at the community center and he loves the tumbling part so much so that he keeps trying to take cuts in line so the teacher will help him do a somersault again.
He's got quite a few words now, including: Dada, cat, vroom, moo, boom boom, toot, toast, more, ball, bye bye, and text. "Mama" is conspicuously absent. I'm trying not to be offended:)

He continues to be an excellent babbler and will carry on whole conversations with old ladies at the grocery store. He's definitely got the tone and cadence of speech down, if not the vocabulary.

His imagination made its appearance last week! I finally realized that when he was holding toys up to his chin and laughing to himself, he was actually pretending to talk on the phone. He does this with mostly tv remotes and and a scientific calculator that he somehow appropriated into his toy collection, but in the absence of anything with buttons he will use anything from a yardstick to a chicken nugget.

Although his temperament has gotten a lot better since he was a fussy baby, he can still be very opinionated and dramatic. If he doesn't get what he wants he will throw a very theatrical fit, complete with his hands over his face and flinging himself to the floor. When this happens I usually just ignore him and start looking at his books by myself, which for the time being he finds interesting enough to get him out of tantrum mode.  

I'msomadI'msomadI'mso--hey, is that a book? I like books!

That's my boy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Driveway's Tale

Our parking situation is terrible. We are at a T-intersection so we can't park in front of the house. We're not even allowed to park on the same side of the street as our house. So I have to park across the street and two houses down. Getting CJ plus groceries plus any packages to and from the car is a logistical nightmare. We knew this when we bought the house, but our realtor and the seller both suggested that we put in a parking pad. That seemed like a good solution to us, since there was the perfect place for it.

I had an asphalt contractor lined up in March and all that needed to be done was to get a permit from the City to cut the curb. The City hemmed and hawed, forgot about me several times, and sent someone out to take pictures twice before finally decided to deny the permit on June 18. The reason given was that we have a garage and we should just park in there. Except it's not a garage. It was called an "outbuilding" on the listing sheet. It's impossible to park a car in it because it only has a person-sized door. Even if we put in a bigger door, the building remains too structurally unsound to support the weight of a car. Park my car in there, indeed. We were planning on tearing it down in the near future since in addition to being useless, it is also an eyesore. (The street-level person-sized door is on the opposite side. It's just as ugly, trust me.)

 At which point I pitched a fit and the underling I spoke to promised to have his boss, the Public Works Director, call me to talk over the situation.

Do you think he called me? Um, no. I tried calling him once week and sometimes more often from June 18  until August 6, always leaving messages with a coworker (he apparently doesn't have a voice mail). He was much much too busy to return my calls. Then on August 6, I finally caught  him off guard and he accidentally answered. I almost didn't know what to say because I was so used to leaving just my name and phone number with an unnamed coworker, but I somehow managed to explain the situation and set up a face-to-face meeting for August 13.

We all got dressed up (CJ included) and showed up at the city building for our very important meeting. He surprised me by actually being in the office and deigning to keep the appointment. He actually seemed like a very reasonable person. He said that he had looked into the matter and it was apparently tied up in legal. He promised to follow up with them that afternoon to see where we stood and said he would get back to me the following day. August 14, if you are keeping track.

Do you think he called me on August 14? Or any day thereafter? Of course he didn't, you silly person. A month (and several un-returned phone calls from me) later and we have still heard not a word.

Needless to say, my dander is up. I realize that a driveway, or lack thereof, is not a big deal to he who has to deal with broken water lines and street repair and whatnot, but it is extremely important to ME. I've been dealing with the dilemma of a) parking illegally while I unload groceries b) parking legally and illegally leaving the baby in the car while I haul tons of groceries across the street or c) parking legally, putting the baby in the playpen and leaving him home alone while I leave my property to unload groceries. All three options make me very nervous. If you're curious, I choose to park illegally on my front lawn where the driveway should be while I unload. Very classy.

Is there a patron Saint of driveways? Or of Public Works Directors? Help, help, whoever you are.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Going Stir-Crazy...

...but in a good way this time.

CJ and I were recently liberated from "The Room". We've progressed far enough in the kitchen renovation that we could reclaim the living room from all the kitchen stuff.  We haven't yet moved the living room furniture back to where it goes but it doesn't really matter; CJ is just delighted to have a big empty space to run around in!

It's not complete freedom, as the rest of the house is still a disaster, but it is a huge improvement. Parole, if you will.

The kitchen, while still lacking a sink, dishwasher, and counter tops, now has cooking appliances.
(The island has been added where the blue ladder is since this picture was taken.)
I am in hogs' heaven. I don't normally like to cook, but I have gone absolutely stir-crazy. I've made like a zillion new and exciting dishes in the last few weeks.  
Black Bean Soup. From scratch! I am culinary genius a la Bridget Jones.
 Whole-Grain Pancakes. They really taste too good to actually be good for me, but they are!
I checked out umpteen cookbooks from the library. I signed up for a CSA vegetable delivery program. I put Maple Salmon on the September meal plan. I'm feeling very adventurous, food-wise, just now. What does a rutabaga taste like? I INTEND TO FIND OUT.
Of course I am really shooting myself in the foot by doing all this fancy-schmancy cooking. I still have to do all of the dishes in the bathroom, and dishes time has been lengthening considerably lately. Totally worth it. Food is wonderful! I will never eat chicken nuggets again!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hat Trick Of Housekeeping Disasters

A lot of people say that they are bad housekeepers, but I am the real deal. I can't cook. I can barely clean. Here are some epic fails I have racked up in the last month.

1. A few weeks ago we went to visit my in-laws for the weekend and when we left they gave us a fresh summer squash from their garden to take home. When we returned to our house everything from the car got dumped on the spare bed and due to the crazy nature of my life at the moment I let putting things away get put on the back burner. I think you can see where this is going. Fast forward threeish weeks and I have finally mustered the energy to tackle the pile of junk on the bed. It is then that I discover the remains of the squash, the juices of decomposition seeping out of the plastic shopping bag and all over the down comforter. Forty dollars to dry clean that son of a gun.

2. CJ has been a pretty good sport about switching over to cows' milk but it has really thrown me for a loop. I was filling his sippy cups multiple times a day, every day, with a particular gallon of milk and it never occurred to me that I might want to pay attention to the expiration date. He kept drinking it as usual but was in a pissy mood for days on end. Then one day I was jonesing for a PB&J with a glass of milk and decided to steal some of CJ's whole milk because I think it is delicious. Except it wasn't; it had expired five days before. Which explains why CJ had been such a basket case that week. If I had been drinking 16 ounces of sour milk a day, I might have an angry tummy too.

3. As the kitchen is still weeks from completion I still have to do the dishes in the bathroom. I wash the dishes in a dishpan and when I'm done I dump the dirty water down the toilet so that it doesn't clog the sink.
CJ's sippy cups have to be broken down into their component parts in order to be cleaned properly. One of those parts is a small, clear silicone gasket that controls the flow of sour milk to the spout. As it is small and clear it is easy to miss in the soapy water. A few weeks ago I dumped the dishwater down the toilet, realizing only later that the gasket had gone down with it. Seeing as I only have two sippy cups (they were expensive and I didn't want multiple cups cluttering up the house. I just need one for milk, one for water, right?) this was a problem. The manufacturer doesn't sell replacement gaskets because that spout has been discontinued. When I did call they said they might have a couple left over in the back and sent me one of them free of charge. How nice.
Well friends, last night we had a late night of drywall sanding and when I was doing the dishes afterward I was so tired that I did the same exact thing AGAIN. But the good news is I have found some gaskets on ebay and with luck they might last me until we have a dishwasher.

The fails are really piling up but every time I start to have a meltdown I remind myself that my kitchen has walls now. Things can't be that bad if your kitchen has walls! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My World

Let me take you on a tour of my world. Don't worry; it won't take long. Let's start here by the door.

Ok, now turn to your right.

Turn to your right again.

Aaand to the right one more time.
That's it, all 225 square feet of it. That room is working quintuple duty these days. 

Although it is unpleasant and boring at times, I'm glad that I'm learning how to live without much space. That way if we ever move to New York or Europe we won't die of shock.

In Kitchen news: We have a new back door!
 We had originally intended to keep the original door as it had character, but then as it turned out we have to build up the floor quite a bit in order to put down tile and that would have meant shaving down the bottom of the door. And who wants to do that to a 100-year-old piece of history? Also as it turns out we like this one better. It lets in a lot more light.

Also, we have a ceiling! And hopefully the rest of the drywall will be up by the end of the week.
The bad news: The company that is fabricating our counter tops is way behind schedule and once our cabinets are in it will take them roughly two months to install our counter tops. I wouldn't care so much except if there is no counter that means no sink. And no sink means no dishwasher. Which means I will be doing the dishes in the bathroom for quite some time.

But as long as we aren't confined to "The Room" anymore, I can make it work.

Friday, June 22, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday - It's My Kitchen and I'll Cry if I Want To Edition

I've been out of the blogging game for a while. This calls for a 7 Quick Takes. Thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting!

7 Things I Didn't Know About Kitchen Renovations

1. The renovation doesn't stay in the kitchen. For example, this is my dining room, or, "the room where we store cabinets and appliances until we are ready to install them".

There is one room in the entire house where CJ is allowed to be wild and free, which is the guest room/play room/living room. Except he hates it, and that makes me hate it. We are both about ready to go all "Yellow Wallpaper" and scare the heck out of Nemo.

2. Nature will invade your home. Having the walls open and the guts of the house hanging out, plus exterior doors getting left open when people are going in and out and in and out getting projects accomplished, leaves the house vulnerable to unwelcome visitors. I don't want to talk about it anymore.

3. It is possible to get sick of chicken nuggets. And Subway (yes, even though they currently have avocado on the menu) and salty frozen dinners and even *gasp* ramen noodles. You will miss your former "healthy" diet of spaghetti and salad.

4. The renovation budget isn't the only budget you will break. All those salty frozen dinners don't come cheap. And life is such misery that you don't feel bad about treating yourself to something special every other day.

5. The people at Lowes' will recognize you and say hi whenever you walk through the doors. This one never fails to mortify me. Yesterday we went and an employee saw us walk in and promptly handed us one of CJ's shoes that we had evidently left there on a previous visit. Didn't ask for identification or anything.

6. Doing the dishes in the bathroom is weird, difficult and disgusting. It doesn't matter if you've always done the dishes by hand and that you have an awesome routine. It will still be a terrible experience that unfortunately has to be repeated every night.

7. You will get excited about the slightest bit of progress. Here is our kitchen, identical to how it looked last month but now with more subtle differences! All those blue things are electrical boxes for the umpteen outlets we wanted. I think the old kitchen had one outlet and it was a fire hazard. So you see, improvement! There are also recessed lights installed above. Five of them, and then the housing for the two pendant lights that will hang above the island.

That's the secret to a nice kitchen. Lots of outlets and lots of lights. Write that down!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Oh hi. I have an excuse.

This blog has been rather quiet lately, and now I can say why! My sister Emily and I have been working on starting a blog about frugal and sustainable living. We just launched it today, and you can check it out at're going to be doing a giveaway over the weekend!

Now that all the heavy work of blog-starting is done with I hope to get back to regularish posting here. Maybe starting tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kitchen Renovation Week 1: Nailed It

With the help of my in-laws, the Incredibles, my brother, and a very helpful neighbor, we got a lot accomplished in the last six days.

Once the crew was gathered the floors came up...

then the walls came down...

And the ceiling soon followed.

Everyone was covered in 100-year-old plaster dust, dirt, and soot. They could easily have been mistaken for coal miners. You should see the ring around my bathtub! But all for a good cause of course.

Then the bathroom, now sans bathtub, got framed in and drywalled.

 Then the old servant's stairway got framed in.

Then the pluming got roughed and a whole lotta wiring got done.

The bad news: When tearing down the walls there was a well-timed rainstorm and we discovered that our gutters aren't doing their jobs. Rainwater seeps into the walls in one corner. So that will have to be fixed, but I'm not really sure how.

The good news: Check out this brickwork!
It's the back of the dining room chimney. The hole on the right is (we assume) where the stovepipe for the original wood burning stove connected. We are hoping to clean up the brick and leave it exposed to give the kitchen a little character.

And now we're tired and we are taking a well-deserved break.