Posts Tagged ‘home improvement’

My Week(31) in iPhone Photos

Saturday, June 4th, 2011




All our bricks sitting in the driveway

By the end of the week the toddler was doing stuff like this ALMOST BY HIMSELF.

This is the face of someone who still thinks it is funny to work wicked hard all day. SHE IS GONE NOW.



Whole wheat banana pancakes for engery

You have a little something on your face.

Leaf! Mormor! Patio! So happy!!!!



Three inches of gravel, completely level.

Stuffing his face with mee-yah. Mee-yah! = Banana

You can't tell, but she was the Queen of the Fussypantses this week.



Caroline did this on purpose and found it HYSTERICAL.

That's a lot of miles on my parent's minivan.

You call it poor food choices - I call it ENERGY FOR PATIO BUILDING



8 am and the start of our work day

Caroline & E enjoy my rock wall, which I built ALL BY MYSELF

Shopping date at Target to look at patio furniture. Spoiler alert: we bought this stuff.




Finishing the final construction steps

No mama! Don't make me shovel anymore!



Caroline & I took an early a.m. trip to Lowe's for some new plants

My dad decided he HAD NOT DONE ENOUGH this week so he cleaned and organized our garage. The man simply cannot be idle for even 10 minutes.

Safety first.

We went to the Irish pub in town to celebrate the end of a project (it's a tradition with my parents).

And I started looking at bathroom tiles for our NEXT major renovation. Maybe in the spring.

OMG I’m exhausted. Tomorrow is Little Evan’s monthday and then Monday I’ll have try to get back to blogging but it’s going to take me at least a month to talk about anything that isn’t “HAVE YOU SEEN MY PATIO IT IS SO AWESOME”. I’m going to sit on my hands as far as real finished patio pictures go until I get all the furniture I ordered for out here (I say “out here” because I am writing this RIGHT NOW from my patio, since the house wireless reaches our lounging fire pit area) but I won’t be able to resist bragging a little a lot before then. But I’ve missed my real life and my friends and Stroller Strides and not being covered in layers of dirt all day.

Did you take any camera phone photos this week? Link up with one or lots using the linky below and grab the code (so it shows on your blog too!) over at Amy’s . It’s really fun!

Mission: Pantry Organization

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

One of the disadvantages of living in an old house is a lack of closet space. Lucky for me, a previous owner did some rearranging and found room in our first floor hallway for a pantry. Bless their heart. Unfortunately, it’s not actually in the kitchen so when I’m putting away armfuls of stuff after making dinner I tend to just toss it onto the shelves so I can make as few trips as possible. Then I have groceries to put away and that stuff just gets shoved onto other shelves and before long I have fourteen cans of chicken broth because I didn’t see the ones behind the nine kinds of vinegar (<—– not an exaggeration. I use a lot of vinegar).

Also, I have pantry months. If you don’t have those in your part of the country, just count your blessings and enjoy not having to wrap up your pasta in Ziplock bags. So while I cleaned and de-mothed and threw out canned pineapple that was supposed to be used by June 2007 I decided to reorganize.



Better, right?

I put a plain old shoe organizer over the door and filled it with anything that fit. Now I can see if I have taco seasoning or cocoa powder without digging through my shelves.

I put the stuff I use the most right at eye level and the stuff I only need once in a while high and low.

I painted the left wall with chalkboard paint (oh how I love chalkboard paint!) and attached chalk to a string so I can keep a running list of stuff as I use it up.

I reorganized items by how often I need stuff – that middle shelf is things I use almost ever night for dinner. Because I put so much on the door I now have enough room to see what I have and stock up on things we use most often, like tomato sauce and couscous. I added the stripes to make things fancy – I’ve been looking at too many Martha Stewart pantries on Pinterest. The stripes reminded me of an old fashioned grocer.

I used $1 baskets and bins to sort things that go together – cookie decorating stuff, tea, seasonings, herbs and spices, my emergency candy (labeled: emergency candy).

I used two $1 shower caddies for onions and potatoes. They’re on hooks so I can take them off the wall and rinse them out when I inevitably forget about a potato and it ends up molding.

I put all my flours and sugars into sealed containers to keep the months out. I splurged and bought large, wide mouthed ones at Target because I HATE trying to pour dry ingredients instead of scooping them with my measuring cups. They were the only part of this whole project that wasn’t either free (I already owned the paint, brushes and tape) or $1 (the baskets and smaller plastic containers).

See that top shelf? That’s apple, peach, strawberry and cherry jam plus sour cherries for pies all homegrown and hand-canned by my mother-in-law. Are you jealous yet? Come over and I’ll make you a pie – after I force you to admire my pantry in person. Yeah, I might be just a little too proud of FINALLY getting this mess cleaned up.


My Week(29) in iPhone Photos

Saturday, May 21st, 2011


Pouring rain in Columbus, where luckily my sister-in-law had an alternate indoor location for her garden wedding

Self portrait of my fancy headband while I let one tired baby sleep in my lap

A little ring sling action at the reception. Caroline says "IT'S 9 PM WHY AM I NOT IN BED?"


I saw 10 hours of this while we drove home. The kids were incredibly well behaved - probably because they were so tired from 4 days with no naps.

Little Evan slept like this for most of the trip - and STILL went to bed at the regular time.


Excited to wake up in his own bed

Caroline gets some love from a Stroller Strides friend who missed her while we were gone.

This was for sale at the kennel where we board Brutus. If you dress your dog like this we cannot be friends.


Lazy, lie around the house day for everyone but me...

...because I am INSANE and decided to redecoraty my pantry. That's right, my PANTRY. A closet NO ONE SEES.

Meanwhile, our most used room looked like THIS.


I had to take Little Evan back to the pediatrician for another lead test because his first sample was "insufficient". He was NOT happy about getting poked again. (This picture is pre-poking)

Some milk and his blankie made him feel much better.

After bedtime I got out my camera manual and finally started learning how to use the damn thing


Someone has a hard time staying in his seat at Stroller Strides - but SCREAMS if I buckle him in.

Nursing baby cuddles.

Dollar Store generics crack me up


It FINALLY stopped raining so I went to check on my plants. Looks like I'll get blueberries this year!

Cereal for breakfast, as usual, in his new dinosaur shirt.

We went to Lowe's to look at pavers, since we need to get them ordered THIS WEEKEND. As excited as I am for a patio, this is not going to be easy or cheap and I'm worried.

Yeah, so, the patio. I know I keep talking about how we’re doing it “soon” but day 1 of the project starts a week from today. For some reason my brain simply CANNOT HANDLE the idea of square feet and cubic feet and tons and lengths and heights and all the other stuff we need to figure out. I’m sitting here right now with a notebook and a calculator, sweating profusely and swearing at the numbers. The good news is my folks are coming up to help (spoken: Mom & I shop for patio furniture while Dad & E do all the math and heavy lifting). If we blow our budget as much as I THINK we’re going to we might just be sitting on the bricks for the next year.

Did you take any camera phone photos this week? Link up with one or lots using the linky below and grab the code (so it shows on your blog too!) over at Amy’s . It’s really fun!



Friday, June 18th, 2010

Today started out so well. Baby Evan not only slept through the night, he slept IN, not making a peep until 8:30 am. E is home today so I got to pass the buck on the horrible morning diaper while I took a beautifully long shower. I managed to shave both legs, including above my knees, for the first time in weeks. Our possible agenda for the day included: going to the lake, boating, swimming, walking downtown for some lunch, Ikea, watching a movie, taking the baby to the park, the aquarium, or any number of other super awesome weekday-off-of-work summer activities we rarely get to do. We decided to start with Ikea (aka Home Design DisneyWorld). I packed up the diaper bag, changed the baby and ran downstairs to feed the cats before we left.

Actually, I only made it half way down the stairs. Then I noticed the water.

And then I noticed the smell.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had plumbing problems in this house. The day I moved in (E was at sea) the sewer backed up into the basement and I stood on the bottom step just staring at the mess until my father suggested I find a phonebook and call a plumber. I didn’t even know if the house HAD a phonebook. Eventually I got a guy to come out who hemmed and hawed and poked things and removed drain covers and stuck things in pipes for a couple of hours before declaring he had no idea what was wrong but we definitely needed a new line from the house to the street so did I happen to have $2,500 as a downpayment? Plus $200 for his opinion?

I fired him. Later, my neighbor said she hired him to do some work and he was even more of an idiot that I had originally suspected.

Fortunately, that first back-up turned out to be just a result of the house being empty for 8 months and my normal use of the plumbing for a couple of days flushed everything out. I lived in happy denial for 6 months.

The second back-up involved a dozen people stomping around the house hemming and hawing and looking for the problem and never really coming up with a permanent solution besides replacing the entire line out to the street. And that time it cost $800.

So this morning, although it’s been 2 years since the last backup, when I saw the water and smelled the smell I almost cried. Our plans for the day – for the week, maybe for the month – now all revolve around wet-vacs, rubber gloves, plumbers, RotoRooter, city workers, pipe cameras, and juggling bank accounts and credit cards until we figure out what exactly we have to do and how much it’s going to cost. Our plans for next week that previously included adding pantry shelves and a new workbench for E in the basement are now scrapped. Basically all the fun and joy and happiness in our lives has been sucked up along with gallons of (literal) crap by the shop-vac. Stupid, stupid house.

*One of the weirdest parts of our old house: random basement toilet. There isn’t an actual bathroom down there, just a sort of partition made out of random pieces of leftover plywood and a door that doesn’t shut. Also, no sink. Just a toilet. Which is where all the gross disgusting stuff that doesn’t make it out to the street line comes up. BLECH.

Island Love

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Bullet point 1: I am writing this in the fastest possible way, since my laptop is seconds away from conking out completely thanks to one small person’s habit of ripping the power cord out. It’s now broken and won’t charge at all. New power cord is on its way, until then consider these my last words to you. FAREWELL CRUEL WORLD.

Bullet point 2: You’d think I had some sort of brain damage or been dropped on my head and suffered severe memory loss from all the wailing and complaining I’ve done over Baby Evan’s teething woes. His molars are certainly not his first teeth ever and we got through the last ones relatively unscathed with Tylenol, teething tablets, camila and an amber necklace. All of those have again been located and I have high hopes that in the next 48 hours we will no longer be a family of exhausted, screaming zombies.

Bullet point 3: Although it cost us more than we wanted/could afford to spend, our new kitchen island is already the best investment we’ve ever made. My counter space has literally DOUBLED and my cabinets are no longer overflowing with small appliances that threaten to fall on my head as soon as I reach for a cookbook or a Tupperware container.


A reminder of what the space used to be: a giant suck of shoes and crap. Only you can't really tell in this picture since it's from the home tour, when I hid all our junk.

A more accurate view of the space, after the Great Electrical Outlet Incident of 2010

And now we have this. The drawers AND the cabinet have no-slam hardware so never again will the baby pinch his fingers. We're living the high life, let me tell you.

The back side of the island, where we can put a couple of stools. Which means a) we now have an EAT-IN KITCHEN and b) We aren't doomed to eat on the couch for the rest of our lives. Also c) I get to go to IKEA for some stool shopping.

Look at all that space. Fantastic. I have the urge to bake a dozen pies. Or maybe just lick it. Oh and in case you were wondering, it's Corian, which I've always been very happy with.

This also means I have enough space to designate one drawer as specifically for Baby Evan. A Baby Evan drawer, if you will, full of plastic cookie cutters, old whisks, and sippy cups. No more spatula emergencies half way through making dinner when I realize they are all covered in dog hair and drool.

This may not be the kind of island most exhausted mothers dream of, but home improvement beats vacation around here every time. It lasts longer and you don’t end up with a sunburn or sand up your butt. At least, not so far.

I should also give a HUGE shout out to the kitchen guy, Jim from Roger’s Kitchens. His attention to detail in installing the island in a really awkward space was AMAZING and he didn’t complain once about our uneven floor, crooked walls or weird moldings. He was on time both days and cleaned up every speck of dust. He was even great with Baby Evan! This isn’t an endorsed plug  in any way (not even close – we paid full retail price for that VERY EXPENSIVE island) but I think a good job done deserves some recognition. If you’re in the Eastern Connecticut area and need a recommendation for a custom kitchen guy, now you have one. Roger’s Kitchens. Love.