Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's Just a Number...

Yes, it has been two years. I don't even know what to say about that, really, so I won't say anything other than "Hi!".

A lot has happened in the last two years. I started this blog when I bought my first house and did some renovating projects. There is still a long list of things to do to the house due to several factors: 1) money to complete said projects, 2) time to complete projects, 3) lack of people with expertise to help with projects. When I started out I had several friends and family who were helping me with lots of projects that I didn't have enough knowledge to complete. Over time, for various reasons, they have had things come up. So, for now I am just doing little things here and there as I have the time and money, but nothing major.

About a year ago I changed jobs. It was a total life upheaval, as I had my previous job for about 13 years. I didn't love everything about that job, but there were some things that I was very passionate about related to education, and I had definitely formed friendships that made up the bulk of my social life. However, the pay was such that I wasn't really surviving and was having to put things like gas to get to work on a credit card. So, I had to look elsewhere. Finally I found something, and it is a company that has a lot of great benefits and great pay. Despite that I went into a major depression. The work was not particularly challenging (or what I had expected it to be) and I was supremely lonely. My biggest means of social life was gone and I was working long hours trying to acclimate to a new workplace. I felt like I had no life.

A year plus later, I am in a better place mentally and emotionally. It is still hard to not see my friends very often, going from every day to maybe once a month is a huge adjustment. The job is still not horribly challenging, though it is plenty stressful and busy. If you don't know how those things can all co-exist, you're lucky! I am attempting not to complain much about it, however, as I have had several friends recently lose their jobs due to budgets and downsizing at their respective companies. It's a scary thing, but most of them seem pretty hopeful about the new exciting opportunities that lay in front of them.

Mostly, I'd like to figure out what my passion is....and then do something with it. Even if it isn't something of which I can make a full-time career, at least it would feed my soul. I don't know how to identify it. I think that has been my problem for years. I am interested in so many different things that I don't know how to focus in on any particular one. This is how you end up changing majors 7 different times in college.

Someday, I'd also like to date again. It's been a couple of years. I'm 40 now and don't know any better than I did in my 20s or 30s how to meet people. I have done several online dating sites, but that does not seem to be a great fit for me. I did manage to meet one guy in person (live and in person, imagine!) for coffee...and that was the entire story. It just doesn't come naturally to me, I feel like online relationships lead to a strange dynamic where you think you know someone better than you really do. Things don't evolve in a natural way and there is a way that typing on a screen puts up a barrier that allows people to say and do things online that they would never do face to face, which applies to dating or to Internet trolls. I don't really have friends who are the fixing up types, and even then I doubt many of them even know many single people other than me! I have exactly one friend who is single and she is incredibly outgoing and active and adventuresome, but she hasn't hit the relationship jackpot yet either. It's hard out there for pimps and women in her 40s apparently.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I have no real excuse.

So, I'm awful at this...this thing called writing. Not that I'm bad at the actual act, only at doing it with any sort of consistency, which any fool who reads this blog probably already realizes.

Have I been doing any house projects? A few here and there, but the winter temperatures and loads of snow slowed things waaay down.

The kitchen is half painted, awaiting a day when I can move the larger appliances to the middle of the room and feel secure enough to climb up on the counters to paint the soffit. I still don't have anything hanging on the walls, as I feel loathe to commit to it without another set of eyes to verify I'm not screwing it up.

My desk, secretary, piano, and new dresser have not been moved in yet. We were all set to do it the weekend of my birthday, and then the snows fell, lots of snows...making that almost impossible. And since then schedules have not accommodated.

I have tons of projects I want to do...outside, inside (the floors still need the last finishing touch put on them!). Lots of projects tends to require lots of money, which I don't have at the moment...And time.

And on that note I'm back to the writing thing. So, that time to do projects and even to write on this blog is under serious strain from something else. I'm working on a writing project. Up until now, it's been one where I meander through it, only working on it occasionally when "inspiration" hits. Suddenly, however, I have a deadline looming over me and a frightening but exciting prospect of forward momentum there as well. This requires focus, something I admit does not come naturally. But, I'm going to do my best!

Until then, I'll just take a few moments every day to watch the birds at the feeder, walk the dog, and appreciate what I already have!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Two Christmases and a Homecoming

So, for the last few weeks months, my dog has been living somewhere else. I felt like this was necessary for my sanity, and probably also for his. 

You see, when I moved from apartment A to apartment B three years ago, Gatsby never did quite adjust to the change. He went from a fairly quiet content dog to one that barked at the sound of a beetle crawling along the carpet outside the door. I don't know why this happened, exactly, except that he seems to get stressed out when things are moved around too much and people appear to be getting ready to "GO". I don't know if this is anxiety over possibly being left behind, or excitement over some "me time" and the chance for a treat, but either way it's annoying.

He prances around your feet, barking, pushing his ball into any conceivable corner and then whining for you to throw it, kick it, push it back, or trip over it. Any of these outcomes would make him supremely happy, but not happy enough to do the exact same thing again two seconds later. So, as I stood there in a maze of boxes, throwing out my back to try and retrieve his ball from behind the pieces of my bed frame for about the millionth time, I decided I had to do something before one of us died an ugly death. So, he got shipped off to stay with my mother.

That was in September.

Fast forward to early December, and he was still staying there. Between redoing the floors, unpacking boxes, and trying to get the house to be generally livable, I didn't feel like I could take him back. Plus, I wanted to do it at a time where I had the leisure to be home with him a little longer so he could adjust with the comfort of having me there. As everyone probably knows, the holidays are a hard time to make that happen.

This is how my first Christmas happened without Gatsby around to join the festivities.

Every year, a week or two before ACTUAL Christmas, I have Christmas with three of my very dear friends. One I've known since first grade, one is her mother, and the other I happily inherited by marriage. We usually have it at either my place or theirs (they share a home), and after a couple of years at their house, I was excited to have Christmas in my new place. None of them had been over since I painted the living and dining rooms and got my furniture set up, so it was exciting.

I put up my color coordinated Christmas tree (which, apparently, goes out the window when you have kids. That kind of gives me a headache) and wrapped the gifts to go along with it.

Burlap garland, white ornaments, and large twig star ornament as a topper.

I had dreams of putting up outdoor lights until I realized my house has not a single outside outlet. Which, ultimately, was fine, since I hardly needed the added stress of stringing up lights in the cold and dark. I set up a happy little beverage and snack bar on the buffet and got the table ready for some serious board games. We love us some board games.

We ate dinner out and then came back to my house where I had hot apple cider, coffee, hot chocolate fixings, apple cider cupcakes and chocolate bark (white chocolate cranberry, cupcake, peanut butter cup, and peppermint flavors). It was so cozy and such a fun night, that we didn't even notice the time until it was 3 a.m.!

A few days later Gatsby finally came home with me. He actually seems to be adjusting quite well and has only really barked at the cats who live next door (one of which snuck into my house as I was getting my mail once, so it's nice to see that he has discouraged that).

Seems like he's having a hard time adjusting, huh?

My second Christmas happened on the actual 25th of December. My family is usually a smaller group at Christmas since some visit in-laws, but I was still excited to have everyone over. Since it was my turn to host (finally), I got to choose having a brunch instead of a late afternoon meal. This worked out perfectly since I have a couple of breakfast casseroles I love to make.

We had the Pioneer Woman's Sleepin' In Casserole, an improvised hash brown casserole with sausage, cinnamon rolls, honey baked ham, and french toast cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. All washed down with OJ, mimosas, cider, or coffee. We followed all of that with some amazing Coconut Cream pie that my mom made in honor of my grandpa who passed away last year and a game of dominoes before everyone had to head home.

It was such a good time, and I loved hosting everyone in my own house. I am glad for a little break now, though!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why My Hands and Shoulders and Other Various Parts are Sore, in case you wondered...

It feels like it has been a constant flurry of activity around here. Every moment I haven't been at work has been filled with something...whether it was continuing to work on the floors, runs to the hardware store, runs to do laundry (as I am still waiting to get a washer & dryer of my own), attending fun housewarming parties for other friends who have recently moved, or prepping far too much food for Thanksgiving.

The best part about all of it has been time with friends and family, though I will confess that seeing so much progress on the house has been pretty exciting as well. The floors are *thisclose* to being finished. For all intents and purposes they are livable now.

Hand scraping two rooms was a big job and I couldn't have done it without some great, great help. After the scraping, a coat of lacquer thinner mixed with acetone was applied to clean and smooth the floors. I could have gone the route of renting a sander to use, but I really didn't want that "new wood" look. I wanted the character of the floors to match the character of the house.

After the floors were clean, 4 coats of Satin Polyurethane were applied. That process took several days. Because of the house's layout, that meant I had to be out of the house for two nights while it dried, or be permanently trapped in either the bedroom or the kitchen, which was not an appealing though. So, I packed a bag and crashed at my mom's for a couple of nights.

The floors look gorgeous! I am so completely thrilled with the look. The satin finish gives the a great sheen without being overly shiny and gave the color a nice boost. We did find some matching lumber and that will be stained and distressed and woven in to the area of the patch in the near future. With any luck that will look pretty close to seamless when it's finished. I also may decide to scrape and patch the little hallway area between the bathroom and bedroom too, but that all can wait a bit.

Next project related to the floors will be to put trim back up around the baseboards. It's all purchased, just needs to be painted, cut, and installed.

This last weekend, with some help, I got the living room and dining rooms painted and the furniture moved in. Lots of things still need to be arranged and hung, but it's already feeling incredibly homey. And, I moved the TV out of the bedroom and back to its rightful place in the living room. Hopefully this will dissuade me from staying up too late watching TV!

Living Room in Progress-Harbor by Valspar

Christmas tree in progress too!
Hard to tell, but it's kind of a minty blue. My aunt said it looked like a big Tiffany Box.

From the Dining Room into the Living room. The Dining Room is Brushed Suede by Valspar.

Starting to get the built in filled.

New dining chairs from Kirklands are a dark brown and blue brocade.

Still need to get things hung...

The only room I have in mind to paint now is the kitchen. It has a nice buttery color in there now, but I'm itching to paint it a color  reminiscent of an old blue canning jar. But, I think I'll take a little break before I do that and decorate for Christmas!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Loading up, loading in, loaded down...

So, moving day has come and gone and I am just now getting around to a post.  This MAY have something to do with the continual hours of floor scraping, cleaning, and body dumping (okay, so it was just surreptitious night-time old carpet dumping, but that sounds lame) that have been going on.

Bottom line is, I'm pooped! And yet, there is still much more to do, so I can't stop just yet.

On Friday night, hours before moving day was to begin, I sat on the living room floor, covered with with yellowing varnish dust and had a mini-meltdown. I cried, I must admit (which is nothing shocking) and was adamant that we must rent a sander and stop doing this foolishness by hand. Thankfully, calmer and less emotionally charged head prevailed. Yes, our hands were cramping, yes I was pretty sure my lungs were filled with dust, but we could do this and it would be much better (and safer, seeing as how power tools are not our forte) to do it by hand.

You may recall the original state of the floor...

My friends were a total blessing that weekend, as G & L stayed late at the house and cleaned everything up in preparation for moving day and sent me home to get a shower and some much needed sleep. Unbeknownst to me, as they were leaving, G & L smelled gas and called the gas company. Of course, their first response is that they have to come shut off the gas completely until a serviceman can get out the next day to check it out. So, the move started in a house with no heat and no hot water.

I managed to wake up early enough to finish packing just as my other wonderful friends and family showed up to help start loading trucks and minivans. I couldn't believe how fast it all went! I guess that's the difference having a lot of help can make.

By noon we were at the house with most everything moved inside, getting ready to take a much needed pizza break.

My bedroom got all set-up and, thanks to a little help from L a couple of nights earlier, it was even painted. I still need to do some touch-up work, but the color is Valspar's Metropolis, a pleasant gray color. I will be accenting with pink and white. Yes, it's very girly. But I'm a girl and I don't have to try and man it up for anyone. :)

Metropolis (but nothing like the Cronenberg film)

This house definitely has some odd things about it. The mammoth closet in the bedroom is nice, but the fact that there are only 3 outlets and they're in very inconvenient places is not.

Mammoth Closet...a small person could live in here.

The bathroom could have probably been a bit larger and the closet a bit smaller since they back right up to each other. This would have allowed for some sort of storage in the bathroom. As it is, I am struggling to find places to store my makeup, deodorant, contact lens case, and curling iron.

The kitchen cabinets were all made by hand and are very interesting in their set-up. The cupboard where I keep my glasses is particularly interesting. They're also pretty short, so I'm making good use of the pantry in the utility room for a lot of items. The kitchen was the first room I unpacked, as I couldn't feel settled until that was out of the way. It still needs painting and decor hung up....and some random wiring checked. There were two light fixtures in the kitchen in the middle of walls that seemed to have no way to turn them on. Conversely, there is a light switch in the utility room that seems to serve no purpose, unless I am secretly controlling the power to someonelse's house, which could be pretty funny considering how many times I have flipped it on and off.

After everything was moved in, I called the gas company and they discovered there was a leak in my furnace. Lovely. Also, strangely, the serviceman blew out the pilot light on my water heater, though there was no issue with it and he had already turned off the gas to the furnace, so there was no danger.  Luckily, my realtor had suggested I have the seller purchase a warranty for these types of issues during the first year. So, after some run-around on the phone, they sent out a plumber...which was of no  use...and finally a furnace repairman. It took two days, and the furnace guy relighting my pilot light, but everything finally got repaired and things were much warmer.

Nearly a week has passed since the move-in, and while I would LOVE to have everything done (as I apparently don't deal well with upheaval), a lot of progress has been made.

scraping in progress

The kitchen and bedroom are unpacked (if not organized just perfectly yet) and the living room floor is completely scraped.

You can really see the difference when you look at the line between the dining room and living room. The dark side is the dining area, which we will start scraping in the next few days. At least that room is about 1/3 of the size and doesn't have any old tile adhesive on it!

post-scraping and smoothing with acetone & lacquer thinner

You'll notice the nice patch in the floor. This is part of the history of the home, as it used to have a gravity fed furnace that transferred air via a large vent in the floor. We're going to find a closer match to try and patch it, but it will always show...which I sort of don't mind, as it is a part of the extensive past of the house.

Le Patch

The *hope* is to have the floors completed (scraped, oiled, patched, trim put back down) before Thanksgiving, as I will be hosting it for the first time and would really like to have things set up so we could have a normal, relaxing day!

I really have to thank my friends and family again. They made moving a breeze and are STILL helping me get these floors, and some other smaller issues, in order!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

All For A Floor

Today the first real project in the house began. Let's begin with the true "before" picture:
The living room (featuring the previous owner's furnishings)
The dining room (also not my furnishings, but what a great built in!)

So, it's nice right? It is. But...of course I can't be satisfied with things like they are! I have always dreamed of having wood floors in my home (also, a fireplace, but that's a far future project!). Plus, I think this carpet is WAY too light for a high traffic area like a living room and dining room that leads into the kitchen. I would never keep it clean, and it had a few stains already. 

I decided my first project would be to pull up the carpet and see what was hiding  underneath. Since this part of the house was originally built in the 1800s, I figured it was a good bet that there would be hardwoods underneath. However, it was risky, since the house was actually moved in the 1960s from across the street, so I could have found a mess. 

What I found instead...
That would be some nice floors with a LOT of old adhesive stuck to it.

Who put tile over these gorgeous floors in the past? Some choices will always baffle me. So, they're not perfect and it's gonna take a decent amount of work. I spent most of the day scraping.

But my first problem was tackling getting the utility knife package open.
Does anyone see the irony in being unable to open a knife package because you DON'T HAVE A KNIFE??

By the end of the day I'd made a little progress, though you couldn't tell too much. Tomorrow, back at it with the help of a friend and his dad's tools! My dreams of getting up new paint may go by the wayside as I try to get this floor done before I move in my furniture!

Monday, October 22, 2012

My First "Hive"

Today I closed on my very first home.

Maybe it seems silly to be nearing forty (let's not dwell on that, shall we?) and only now investing in your first property, but it's something I honestly wasn't sure was in the cards for me. Upon leaving the title company's office, key in hand, I got a little misty eyed sitting in my car. Could it have only been six months ago that I was crying, feeling like I was never going to own anything? never have a home of my own? It seems impossible.

Then I drove to my new (old) little house on its quiet, quaint street, and new it was true. It really felt like mine, as I sat making notes and picturing all the things I will do to make this "hive" feel even more like a home.

This process will involve lots of firsts, and I hope to chronicle the ups and downs here. Tonight mostly involved planning, but it also involved a bit of a revelation! The seller left me a lot of paperwork, including some pictures of the house before it had some changes made, and a newspaper from 1960 with a front page story of my 1890s house being moved from across the street so the First Baptist Church could build a new parking lot. The article talked about the potential first owners, one of which was the town's blacksmith/veterinarian. Somehow that seems about right!

I also worked with my friends to pull up the carpet in the living room to see what sort of shape the hardwood floors are in. They're going to take some work, and still look well worn...but I kind of like that. Tomorrow I'm off to work at removing ancient adhesive from the floors!

I'm glad they chose to move my little hive instead of tearing it down in the name of progress.