Category Archives: home

Two weekends of acquisition

As much as my last two weekends have been filled with torturing Thirteen as I try to help him help himself on big social studies reports, blistered palms resulting from digging holes for perennial planting in our extraordinarily rocky soil, and singlehandedly (well, I did use the washer/dryer) washing almost EVERY SINGLE piece of clothing in the house in one weekend — well. LOOK, just LOOK at what I’ve gotten over the last couple of weekends:

A new project bike! Nighthawk 450, gifted so generously from Rick and Janice to commemorate the happy occasion of our marriage. Considering that Mike already has a project bike I am so commandeering this.

The next day we hoped in our little car and trailered this lovely pedestal cast iron tub home from Tarrytown NY. For only $60!

it’s SO nice on the inside:

and once again may I say: I love our small car lifestyle!

The occasion for the tub is not so happy. Suffice it to say (for now!) that there is an awkward and annoying leak that is persistent and getting much worse and necessitates the renovation of our upstairs bathroom about 2 years before we were ready to pay someone else to do so. Family Tip Grundzilla will be performing this engaging and fruitful activity next weekend. Theoretically Fruitfully. Wish us luck.

And then this weekend I went to Rheinbeck for the NY Sheep and Wool Festival and got ALL THE THINGS:
rheinbeck party

OK, I didn’t get the sheep and the llama. But I wanted to. Badly. Think Nine and Thirteen can be swayed off of horses in 4H and onto the fiber-bearing animals?

Geraniums may depress kittehs

Our temporary cat has been eating all out geraniums. He left them alone for months! But has recently discovered them.

He has also been moping around moreso than usual. Even more corners are say in and mewed at.

Thursday I checked Dr Internet and determined that geraniums are toxic to cats – and worse! – a symptom of ingestion is depression. So I called Mike right away and asked him to move all the plants that Book eats to the laundry room. Today he took things a step further: he put up the shelf we’ve had for years and cleaned the room. It’s amazing in there now! These plants will thrive.


Old House New House

We’re getting new insulation today, and we’re on our first step to getting a bran’ new attic, so to speak!

Want a tour of the old attic?

Firstly, we have a real door and a real stairway up into the attic. I love that! and then when you reach the top of the stairs and you turn around, this is what you see (left of stairs and right of stairs):
attic - left of stairs
attic - right of stairs

and if you walk to the opposite end and look back towards the stairs, this is what you see:

it’s a really big attic, and this is my favorite part – on the far side away from the stairs there are two gabled nooks:
attic - next to stairs

the one on the left is our pretend future guest room – it’s adorable, nestled up against the ratty chimney:
attic - guest room

each nook has this pretty stained glass window in it:
guest room nook

stained glass

We plan to leave the floorplan open, but make this corner the guest room area with a nice rug and my old four poster bed, a nice bedside table and a chest or something to put your bag on (come visit us!). Of course we’ll need a pretty lamp.

The other nook has a bunch of old tables in them right now – the previous owner wanted to be a model train maven or something like that. you can see them in one of the first photos. I think that one is a little more open but a little smaller, and would make a really cute little sitting area.

On the right side of the stairs the floor is more open and the ceiling seems higher, because there’s a better floor-space to wall-proximity ratio (I am SURE that is a real interior decorating metric):
attic - looking towards stairs

attic - towards stairs

The left side of the stairs will probably be a good place to put in some shelving around the edge of the stairs for camping stuff so it’s easy to get to. I think there are secret dreams of putting a desk in here by the window, too:

We won’t be finishing the attic for a good long time – maybe a year, by my projection of saving/spending ability vs more critical work to do on the house – but when we are ready, we’ll be putting in drywall, fixing up the floors, insulating more under the floors, running outlets down to the walls, and making it just incredibly lovely. I really can’t wait, it’s going to be amazing. Stay tuned!

Flaky Pie Crusts

Flaky Pie Crusts

Originally uploaded by karinajean.

Apparently I have a knack with pie crusts. Pie crusts, biscuits, and roux. I can make a gravy so accidentally thick you’ll lose the ladle and have to send out for pizza. I can make a pie crust from scratch that will fluff up into gorgeous flaky layers of pastry. I’ve been told that these are highly advertisable skills on internet dating sites, but you know, I just thought they were pretty good knacks to have but nothing extraordinary.

I’m not a fancy chef, I never plate or sauce food neatly, but I do think I have a certain Americana knack about the kitchen that is kind of like my gramma, and also, kind of great.

I knew the house sounded extra creaky this morning.

We are refinancing our house, and the appraiser came today to take a look. This, understandably (yeah?) makes me nervous. We cleaned and swept and I said things to Mike like: I just don’t want her to think we’re dirty people. The house looks much better on the inside than it did a short 3 hours ago.

So she is walking around the house with me, and I notice something on the ground. It’s a piece of the siding that goes up by the roof. And it has blown off of the house and gone ENTIRELY AROUND THE ENTIRE STRUCTURE and ended up on the ground on the exact opposite corner from whence it came.
What do you do? I just ignored it. I thought:  maybe she won’t notice it if I don’t say anything. Our yard is pretty messy right now, and it is entirely conceivable that we could have a big chunk of something that looks like roofish siding lying in the weeds just ’cause. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t stare at it. I didn’t even try to kick it out of the way.


(confidential to Mike: let’s talk about you getting up there and hammering some stuff back onto the house, ‘kay?)

oh, I’m that person

I hate to be the person who is asking for forgiveness and not permission. Let’s get it straight: I DID ask for permission to paint my apartment. I asked and called and never was able to speak to the landlord because the woman who answers the phone is very protective of him and didn’t ever put me through. Finally I asked HER for permission and she said that I could, as I was offering to paint the rooms back or to at least prime.


but my landlord inspected my apartment yesterday and he called me up and told me that I wasn’t supposed to have painted my apartment, and that there was no record in my file of having asked for or been granted permission.


I explained I was planning to prime before I moved and that having painted walls were very important to me as I generally stayed in one place for several years, and also, the walls were very dingy when I moved in – and he said that he couldn’t allow me to paint! that there were liability issues! and workers comp! and special materials! goodness. I’ve never thought of painting in those terms before.

digicam 078

So he’s going to hire people to do it after I leave, and I probably won’t get much of my security deposit back because I painted every room, and the dark colors! but let’s face it — it looks pretty darn good. and if they weren’t going to have let me after all, I’m glad I’m in the position of just asking for forgiveness.

apartment cleaning

I had some brilliant goals for this weekend. I mean, firstly, let me say that this was my first weekend at home where I didn’t have big sad plans for, oh, say 6 weeks. my apartment was a DISASTER SCENE. papers everywhere! hadn’t swept in months! at least my dishes were clean, but that’s just because washing dishes is about the easiest and most rewarding form of housecleaning you can do. hey presto, all of a sudden things are totally clean.

saturday I went to a Society of Women Engineers conference for work and manned the career fair booth. I told so may people how great MyCompany is as a place of employ. it is pretty good, I have to say. and then I went back home and had a fancy spa pedicure and watched tv on the internets until I passed out on the couch.

Sunday I woke up full of energy and drive. I spent FOUR HOURS cleaning the kitchen. FOUR HOURS! it wasn’t even THAT dirty! and it’s definately not that big! but I went through my cupboards and tossed open packages of grains and nuts and seeds and beans that were older than 2 years. I wiped off the counters and did the dishes and put things away and rearranged shelves and I even sorted through my plastic bags. that’s right. I sat on the floor and pulled out all of the plastic bags I’d saved from the grocery store and sorted them by size (tiny ones to my car for garbage bags, really big ones got their own container). And I cleaned out a spot under the sink to stick them.

[[side note No. 1: a friend of mine pledged this year to only accept 13 plastic bags from stores in 2007. I was like: oh, but I use mine for my garbage sacks, and she said she’d rather support recycled plastic bags by purchasing them than getting them from the shop. and that makes total sense to me. and THEN, when I sorted my bags, I realized that I’ve got about 10,000 plastic bags (give or take a hundred). I have so many! So I’m making it a huge No. 1 priority to not accept any more bags from the grocery until I use up all of my old ones.]]

So the exciting part about the cleaning of the kitchen is the part where I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the floor for, like, 2 hours. I hadn’t scrubbed it at all, not even when I moved in, and while I HAD mopped it, there’s something for getting out the wash rags and the sudsy water. And THEN, to really get the job done, after scrubbing with the soapy water I scrubbed with a “magic eraser” (from the japanese dollar store), and then I wiped it down with clean water. I had to change the water, by the way, like, 10BILLION times. maybe not so much of an exaggeration.

[[side note No. 2: these magic erasers? they are awfully amazing. I used one on my tub that was all stained black in the bottom when I moved in and which I couldn’t clean with normal mildly abrasive cleansers and elbow grease – I had reconsiled myself to a black tub and told myself that at least the DIRT was clean, after all the soap and scrubbing I’d given it. but with the magic eraser the tub came magically clean! amazing.]]

and now I’m trying to talk myself out of polishing my kitchen floor. it’s such old linoleum, you see, and it’s all matte finish and sad and dirty looking. maybe floor polish would rock it’s world? maybe it would be fabulous and incredible! but if I AM going to polish it, I need to do it right away, because I don’t want to have to scrub that floor again. (is it REALLY bad form to polish around the furniture?)

After I let my dishpan hands recover, I went to the living room and threw all of the papers in the whole house that were not put neatly away where they were supposed to go onto the floor. All of them. And then I sat there for hours and sorted and filed and recycled and tossed and made ready for the shredder. I got nearly every paper in the house sorted and put away! now all that are left on the floor are stacks of books, magazines I haven’t read yet, and a box of odds and ends that I might as well toss, because I don’t miss anything that’s in it and probably won’t in the future.

And THAT was my very busy, very productive sunday.

party afterthoughts

the first best thing about having a party is having so many lovely people in your home having a good time.

the second best thing is definately how nice and shiny clean your apartment is afterwards. It’s so nice. Every time I swear up and down that I will not let the clutter get the upper hand. maybe this time I’ll have a better chance of it, dear readers? only time will tell.

cocktail party!

the cocktail party was superfun. It was a great crowd of people who were interesting and loved talking with each other. a birdy told me that there were excited comments about the authenticity of the party spread and also about how fun it was. I hope that birdy was telling the truth!

here are some lovely photos of the amazing food we made. lorelei came over a couple hours before and slaved away in the kitchen making cheese straws and little puffy things. so wonderful. michelle was a super amazing person and spent like, an hour, making this hedgehog:


stacey showed up with a vegan cheese log! amazing! and in the corner are the little puffed rolls stuffed with a deviled ham filling.


of course, deviled eggs. they really are so very very good.

there was an exciting table of finger foods, including nuts, sweet crispy nuts, 4 kinds of olives, marinated mushrooms, salami, and the little cheese straws,


y’all thought I was kidding, but I really did pipe cheese onto these eggplant crackers:


kathleen was goodnatured enough to not only bring the ice, but to also gut these cherry tomatoes and stuff them with hummus. they are shown with some wee prochutto sandwiches.


and no, for those wondering: I did NOT finish the dress. I got up super early and cleaned, then got my hair cut, and went shopping for 3 hours, and then came home and cleaned, and then it was party time. it was very very fun! and I’ll just have to finish the dress for the holiday party at mariss and kelly’s house in 2 weeks…

not so much to-done

so, I got just about nothing done this week. I DID succeed in getting very very tired an not so healthy feeling. sigh. So this is the list from before with everything still left to do:

  • clean the kitchen, including the mopping of the floor. [[might not do. non priority.]]
  • donate clothes that are in my hall [[might have them live in my car for the weekend.]]
  • finish cleaning the living room. areas that are outstanding are small, but include: the stuff on one of my end tables and a bunch of magazines on the floor. also a box of crafty things that will go to the basement until I can find a place for them to live in my apartment.
  • clean my bedroom. this is bigger. will take some serious work.
  • hang things on the walls: old photo of my family, pressed metal stork, tin-can flower paintings, mountain dulcimer, ceramic horses head, gramma’s weaving.
  • laundry, including two new sheet sets.
  • sew cocktail dress. I have the fabric (repurposing some fabric we’d bought for curtains in pgh and never used) and the pattern (a butterick vintage reissue of a sheath dress with an interesting open neckline. [[am halfway done with this. was up until 3:30 last night! yuck!]]
  • shopping and making of horse doovers. [[will shop sat. morning and lorelei will come help me cook and test cocktails at around 3. YAY.]]
  • hairs cut. [[appt. for 10:30 am sat.]]

tonight is our office holiday party, but I have to not stay out too late, because 1. I’m pooped and 2. I have to get up early on sat. to clean my apartment. then is the hairscut, and then to the shops. Hopefully I’ll have enough time to finish sewing my dress. I hope! I’m getting totally worried that I will have to wear a bath towel to my own cocktail party. while I totally rock the bath towel look, it’s not what I was hoping for.

what I did on sunday

yesterday I took about 11 1/2 hours and reupholstered my couch. to be fair, it really took about 10 hours – there was some time spent on the phone with kathleen, or eating lunch, or lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling. but it was worth the pin sticks and the long toil, because here it is: my beautiful, reupholstered couch!

it took so very very long because the fabric that I bought was only 54″ wide, and my couch is, obviously, much longer than that. so I split the fabric and sewed it onto the ends of another piece to avoid a seam down the middle, and that was horrible excrutiating work, but it came out awfully nice.

the process was a bear because it involved a lot of draping and pinning and sewing and fitting and pinning and sewing and fitting. lots of back-and-forth between the couch and the sewing machine. I fitted everything together like this:


and sewed on the arms and then the fronts of the arms very last. I listened to the 3rd amelia peabody book downloaded from the library and boy howdy am I glad it’s done! I won’t make any brash assertions that I won’t do this again ever (like I did with the denim couch) but I won’t do it again for a good long time, that’s for sure.


here’s another couch mock-up. heck! it’s so hard to pick a strategery!


severe dorkitude

this weekend I have a number of engagements, but the most long-standing is my date with reupholstering my couch. I reupholstered our couch in spanish harlem – michelle and I got to work with a bunch of denim and a staple gun and my sewing machine and made our tweedy couch into a thing of sleek beauty. it was horrible. it took FOREVER (like, more than 1 evening) and was a big old pain in the keyster, but it was so beautiful when I was done.

the couch I’m using now is a hand-me-down from my stepfamily – maggie bought it new in the 90s, which explains the hunter green navajo print, and then sarah used it for a while, and then it sat on her (enclosed) front porch for a while. As I have a no-moving-the-couch policy currently (it’s WAY easier to ditch the couch when you move), I am not ready to commit to purchasing a new one for hundreds of dollars. and even though I swore up and down I would never reupholster a couch again, in the interests of re-using a couch (aka keeping it off the street) and not turning 30 with a couch covered in sheets (v. collegate), I will cover this old used couch that I have.

I was going to cover it with this fabric:


but now I’m not sure. it’s beautiful fabric, but it’s awfully busy. it won’t match my orange tweed recliner. and it stresses me out to worry about matching patterns so neatly when I sew the whole thing together. Sat. I’m going to stop by the Fabric Warehouse in bellville to see what they’ve got, and hopefully there will be lots of some cheap, light colored (non blue) decorators fabric with which I can reupholster my couch. Currently the couch is wrapped in some lavender sheets and that is pretty great. I would also like white, but as I enjoy eating chocolate on the couch it might not be the best idea. Ideally I want to get something that will match my beautiful dream fabric so I can cover old pillows in it. (I plan to reuse old smooshed bedroom pillows as the pillow bases. this is one of the reasons I categorized this post under buy vs. make.)

EDIT: after talking to a coworker who has her first degree in interior design, she suggested the busy busy fabric for the body of the couch and black for the cushions. and if that’s too busy adding additional throw pillows on the couch with black or white fabric. HMM. she is totally talking me back into it!

anyway, here is the dorkitude: tuesday night I went home and made these sketches (on graph paper liberated from a prior employer) of my couch to estimate how much fabric I needed. I’m so glad I did it because now I know what I’m in store for. but, yeah. Very Dorky.



what homemaking means for the weekend of May 6 and 7.

  • hand wash silk scarves
  • fold and put away dry laundry
  • hang all not-to-be-machine-dried laundry
  • make bed with clean sheets
  • air out apartment
  • transplant sprouty herbs and plant some more seeds
  • wash and put away all dishes
  • scrub out tub and bathroom sink with favorite japanese brand of magic eraser
  • clean up food cupboard in kitchen (incl. eating ends of boxes of crackers to make room for other stuff
  • clean off kitchen counter and scrub clean
  • read in bed with clean sheets, freshly aired room, and drying-laundry-humidifier.

the details

friday night nick called (while I was embarassingly enough watching desperate housewives and putting together my new bedside table) and said “I’m coming over to help you hang heavy things!”

so he put up my mirror,

put up the lamp over the dining room table,


and was agog at how dirty my feet were after walking around pre-sweeping.

saturday I woke up tired and grouchy so kicked into action. I started in the kitchen and put up the commemorative american revolution plates.

kitchenplates kitchenplates2

I also sorted through the junk boxes that had been on the floor since I (GASP) moved in, and measured for my to-be-built microwave table.

I put up two of the prints I’ve been holding onto for quite some time in the “dining nook”


and did loads and loads and loads of cleaning: ripping through at least 8 more martha stewart living magazines, sorting out craft supplies, and decluttering the coffee and dining tables. I also went through the a/v club (pile of boxes and junk under my stereo table) and made that nice and neat and swept clean.

sunday I spent the bulk of my improvement time (when I wasn’t driving around donating things in the beautiful weather, or enjoying frappes on my way home from dollar stores) hanging photographs. I have a LOT of pictures!


with close-ups for photodetail:



I also tackled the bathroom: nick and I put the shelf on hold on friday night b/c there only seems to be about 1/2″ of plaster before mysterious metal is encountered. So instead I put up my friends elvis and the hoff, and also, the dubious “best drunk award” that matt (and michelle and I) took home from the pgh mardi gras party this year. (Don’t worry Mom: I have it on very good authority that while of of us was exceptionally drunk, we won b/c our costume was SO GREAT but we were dressed as our hosts, and they though it would be self-serving if we were awarded the costume prize.)

bathhoff bathelvis

And, to make my hall complete, I put up the relgious pictures that were found in the dollar store in pittsburgh, one featuring an angel who might be pushing children off of a cliff:


not a bad weekends work, that’s for real. I still have so much to do but am in a much better place to feel like I might be able to pull together a party at my casa.

to done list.

this weekend was alarmingly productive, though I still am not 100% to done. of course, this puts me in the awkward position of having finished NEARLY enough to make me sure I can have a party at my place… hrm.

  • kitchen: shelf for microwave, microwave off of hutch
  • kitchen: get rid of junk boxes
  • kitchen: hang decorative and commemorative american revolution plates
  • kitchen: find bread machine and give away [[ this thing is seriously awol. maybe it’s in the basement? ]]
  • living room: hang photos
  • living room: hang art [[ pending arrival of new, non-broken lamp for corner of living room ]]
  • living room: sort a/v materials and clean under tv/stereo tables
  • living room: try to reconfigure stereo speaker configuration so as to afford sideways lampage
  • living room: hang light over dining table
  • bathroom: hang shelf, load up with qtips and spare rolls of TP [[ apparently,
  • bathroom: frame and hang david hasselhoff
  • bathroom: hang elvis
  • hall: hang big mirror
  • hall: hang misc. religious pictures
  • hall: donate big bags of clothes/books and get out of home
  • hall: put all boxes into the basement
  • living room: finish sorting through/recycling martha stewart magazines
  • living room: put away craft things that are out
  • living room: clean off dining table [[ nearly done. I crossed off anyway b/c it’s good for my morale. ]]
  • living room: put away papers from coffee table
  • living room bonus project: replace coffee table with two end tables from basement
  • bedroom: finish putting away craft things
  • bedroom: put together bedside table
  • bedroom: get and use fabric boxes for nylons and knee socks
  • bedroom: take chinese peasant paintings to be framed, hang when received
  • bedroom: clean off dresser

ha, and don’t worry. photos aplenty coming up.

I think I’ll finish moving in this weekend.

This weekend is all about the planning for the birthday party. It might also be called spring cleaning, or even moving in. I want to have a party at my place in 2 weeks, and next weekend I’ll be off to Albany for family party, so this is the only time I’ll be able to scrap my apartment into any kind of non-embarassing, having people over, having places for people to rest their drinks when the boogie-down occurs condition.

you might recall I have a comprehensive bunch of “to do” lists hanging up around my apartment. including those items, the comprehensive (I think) list of things I need to do before my home is party-appropriate is:

  • kitchen: shelf for microwave, microwave off of hutch
  • kitchen: get rid of junk boxes
  • kitchen: hang decorative and commemorative american revolution plates
  • kitchen: find bread machine and give away
  • living room: hang photos
  • living room: hang art
  • living room: sort a/v materials and clean under tv/stereo tables
  • living room: try to reconfigure stereo speaker configuration so as to
  • living room: hang light over dining table
  • bathroom: hang shelf, load up with qtips and spare rolls of TP
  • bathroom: frame and hang david hasselhoff
  • bathroom: hang elvis
  • hall: hang big mirror
  • hall: hang misc. religious pictures
  • hall: donate big bags of clothes/books and get out of home
  • hall: put all boxes into the basement
  • living room: finish sorting through/recycling martha stewart magazines
  • living room: put away craft things that are out
  • living room: clean off dining table
  • living room: put away papers from coffee table
  • living room bonus project: replace coffee table with two end tables from basement
  • bedroom: finish putting away craft things
  • bedroom: put together bedside table
  • bedroom: get and use fabric boxes for nylons and knee socks
  • bedroom: take chinese peasant paintings to be framed, hang when received
  • bedroom: clean off dresser

other things I need to do but are pending the arrival of supplies and/or aren’t that important right now are:

  • put up new lamp by couch (requires new, unbroken lamp to be delivered)
  • cover couch (requires fabric)
  • clean out big closet, including sorting through clothes in boxes and getting rid of things that are too small/old/unfashionable.

so, anywhoo. I might be freakin’ busy this weekend, or, because of the glorious weather, I might be outside and my birthday party might be at a kareoke bar. we’ll see on monday!

ebay shame

after all my high-falutin’ anticonsumerist feelings, and the surety that I could take the lessons learned from pittsburgh to new jersey, I accidentally dropped $100 on ebay.

here’s a little background: when I first learned to knit, I spent a lot of time and $ on ebay buying yarn and knitting needles. It was great, I felt sucessful, etc. I won things but quite cheaply and to tell you the truth I still have a lot of that yarn/wool roving unused at home. A little later I started shopping again — this time for glass insulators that were used once on top of electrical poles. I got some of those, and somehow I got side tracked into buying a macreme handbag — #1, I don’t use a hand bag, #2, Macreme?? So I swore off ebay! didn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. And I was very sucessful at that until this month!

At least it’s all stuff for my home, and it IS stuff I’ve wanted for quite some time now, but still. It’s a good thing that it’s all so pretty, or I’d be really down on myself!

here are a bunch of refrigerator dishes and a jadeite batter bowl:
ebay booty to date

and here’s a better view of the pyrex, because some of it was hiding:
pyrex refrigerator dishes

I’m still waiting on 2 sets of nesting bowls. And then, I’m swearing off ebay AGAIN.

new digicam!

the camera came yesterday and I took it home and screwed around with it as much as I could without actually having any media on which to store the pics. I’m v. happy with it, the shutter lag is not too bad, worse is the recharge period after you take a photo with flash. here’s some gems:

My blue blue [unpacked] living room, with the “lovely” faux panels which made it a real trial to paint:

fancy split screen photo capability! this is so funny and cheesy. I can’t wait to use it at inappropriate times. (no flash for this one, so it’s pretty dark)
fancy split photo capability

and this very romantic photograph of me. It’s all fuzzy, like James T. Kirk is in love with me and the director smeared vaseline over the camera lens and the camera guy is getting pissed off because he HATES cleaning vaseline off of his camera.
very romantic self portrait

man, wait until tomorrow when I post a picture of all of the pyrex refridgerator dishes I bought on ebay!