Looking for more house tips? Search through Houseblogs.net!

Friday, September 29, 2006

bonus closet post: things i have found in our closets

When I went into the study area of the summer kitchen closet in our master bedroom, I found some stuff left there by the studious Brinkleys of yore. Said stuff included a complete set of Funk and Wagnall's New Encyclopedia (I forgot to check what year it was, but I'm guessing it's from the seventies).

It also included a copy of the 1976 Farmer's Almanac.

There was also a box with some glassware in it, which, judging by the newspaper with which it was packed, has been sitting in that closet since 1971.

Ah, history.

Incidentally, the leather case at the very bottom of the first photo contains three empty glass bottles labeled with various liquor types (one for whiskey, one for rum, etc.). Clearly, a study aid.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I had to set up a table in the construction zone to do my portfolio work for grad school. There's no other place in the house with enough room to set up a table!

The cool part is that this table actually came from this house. When Don's great-aunt died and the house was sold (in 2002), a lot of the furniture and things came to Don's parents, including this table. When Don and I moved into our first apartment together, this table came with us, and it was our dining room table all the way up until shortly before we moved out of the townhouse. It's a big, sturdy table, and I love it. I love that I have this link to this house, had it before we even moved in. One of my favorite things about living here is constantly rediscovering and re-establishing links to the past, to all the Brinkleys who lived in this house before us. This big warm table just glows with family history, and we get to keep adding to it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

movie star

It's not house related, but I thought you might all like the chance to admire my new Steve Madden sunglasses. Or make fun of them, like Don and Lindley do.

Me: "Aren't they great? Don't they make me look like a movie star?"

Lindley: "Well... you look just as ridiculous in them as movie stars do when they wear glasses like that, so in that sense I suppose you look like a movie star."

Don: "You look like a giant fly."

how we spend lazy mornings around here

Tucked into bed, watching the Food Network.

mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be dandelions

This is what happens when you let dandelions grow: they turn into GIANT SPACE ALIENS.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Somebody came onto our property and rifled through our stack of to-be-recycled aluminum and stole all of the deck planks from the pool.

They could have just asked; we would have given it to them, it's not like we were going to do anything but recycle it. Don is pissed. I am philosophical. We have our suspicions about who might have done it -- I won't relate them, as this is a public forum -- but there's not much we can do about it other than feel wounded.

Monday, September 25, 2006

the closets of our lives: the summer kitchen

Because the upstairs level of our house was once laid out as a separate apartment for a younger branch of the Brinkley clan, our master bedroom's current closet actually resembles a summer kitchen. There's a sink, and some cabinetry -- and at the back, there's a study area! It's crazy. Let's take the tour.

This is the view from our bedroom. To the left, you can see the door which leads out to the hallway (or rather, the extremely large upstairs landing -- seriously, it's huge). As I understand it, the front bedroom was the apartment's dining room, while the middle was either a living area or a bedroom or both. The back bedroom was still the back bedroom.

As you get a little closer, you can start to see this closet's closet-within-a-closet. You can also see the lovely copper tile backsplash, which makes Don roll his eyes every time he sees it. I plan on saving the tiles to do something crafty with, which is probably why he rolls his eyes. There's a large cutting board covering the sink, for whatever reason, but the sink is there. It works as far as I know.

Finally, the closet-within-a-closet study area -- complete with exploratory kitty. We keep the door to this closet closed, so she hasn't really been in there. When I opened the door to take pictures, she had to check it all out, too. She also provides a nice size comparison! This little study is under an eave, so it's cramped. Not as cramped as you might think -- our cat is extraordinarily long, so when she stands up like that, she's pretty tall. That desk on the right is a standard-size school desk, one of those really uncomfortable ones.

We're hoping to turn this closet into an en suite three-quarter bath for the master bedroom. Since the water line has already been run, the biggest part of the work would be running the sewer line for the toilet (and making everything fit!). We have no idea whether or not this will happen; it's very low on our list of priorities but it's something we've talked about. We know we can't fit a full bath in there, but it would be nice to have a private shower and toilet for the master bedroom, instead of all three bedrooms upstairs sharing the one bath up here. There's another full bath downstairs, so we're not lacking or anything, but all the bedrooms are up here. And who doesn't love an en suite bath?

Friday, September 22, 2006

the closets of our lives: the nursery closet

It's not what it sounds like. Or rather, it is, but not in the sense you're thinking. It's not the closet in the nursery; it's the closet that is the nursery.

The closet in the middle bedroom is so large that it became a room of its own: the nursery. Brinkley babies lived here!

No, Mom, no Brinkley babies are forthcoming (not from me, anyway -- check with my sisters-in-law), and when they do, this won't be their nursery.

It's actually going to be our master bedroom's walk-in closet. We're going to block off the current door, and make a new one in from the left side (that left wall adjoins the front bedroom, which will be the master). It'll make a nice big walk-in closet for us. Since the middle bedroom is going to be a craft room slash office (okay, I admit it -- maybe even eventually a nursery), it won't need much in the way of closet space. We should be able to frame away a small space for a simple closet, to meet real-estate needs (bedroom's gotta have a closet!).

The nursery closet, of course, has its own closet, just like the others. This is the smallest of the closet-within-a-closets; that little door at the back opens up to what basically amounts to a deep shelving unit. It'll get incorporated into the master suite's closet somehow.

And yes, we'll be repainting it.

So what are we using the middle bedroom for right now?

Why, it's our closet, of course!

No, seriously. We put up rods along the walls to hang our clothes, and stuck our dressers in there, too. The front bedroom has two doors -- one into the hall and one into the middle bedroom -- because the entire upstairs was once a separate apartment for a younger branch of the family (more on this on Monday, stay tuned). So our bedroom connects to the middle bedroom, which is why we made the middle bedroom into our closet for now. It's a temporary solution, but it's the biggest closet I'll ever have.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

the closets of our lives: the purple closet

No, this isn't our spare bedroom. It's the
closet in our spare bedroom. And its closet.

In one of my recent rambling conversations with Jeannie, I mentioned the fact that our house has kind of wacky closets.

Wacky? How so?

Well, all of the closets have their own closets.

Nobody likes wasted space, after all. So each upstairs bedroom has a large closet, and since there's plenty of space to spare in the eaves, each closet has its own closet inside, most larger than a standard apartment closet. None of this explains why the spare bedroom's closet got painted purple, though (we may never know).

"Blog it!" says Jeannie.

So for the next few days I'll be showing you our closets. They're each different, and they're each really strange. Today's closet, the purple closet, is fairly unexceptional other than its color and size (and no, the pictures aren't doing it justice -- it's actually a fabulous purple). It's in the back bedroom upstairs, the one we're using as our office right now. This room will eventually be the guest room, and our guests will have an awful lot of space to store their clothes, unless we open it up and turn it into a desk nook or something.

And yes, those are our dining room chairs. The table is... somewhere else. This is what happens when you live in a renovation.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

the someday house

Everybody's got a someday house. It's the house you're talking about when you see some new idea, gadget, or product, and say, "Well, not in this house. But someday." It'll go in your someday house. Things you don't have the space for or the money for or the need for right now, they all get tucked away into the someday house, to wait for you.

My someday house is a farmhouse. A big, rambling old farmhouse, modernized and open on the inside but still the picture of a country home. Lots of guest rooms, a huge kitchen, and a farmhouse table, the kind that's made of the biggest slab of wood you've ever seen, used until it's got the glow of country life worn right into it. There's a garden in my someday house, too. That's one of the ways you can tell it's a someday house -- I haven't learned to garden yet.

Don's someday house is custom built, and wired for voice recognition and mobile control of all electronic functions. I think it has LCD TVs in the bathroom mirrors, too. And, for some reason, a sweeping central staircase, perfect for Scarlett O'Hara-ing your way down. He's quite determined about the staircase.

I don't know how we'll reconcile our someday houses, whenever someday gets here. But in the meantime, it's good to know there's a place to put all of the ideas I can't fit into this house.

What's your someday house like?

Monday, September 18, 2006

fond furniture dreams

Last year, during one of my mother's visits, we all went down to Rockville and visited the Plow and Hearth store, because she wanted to sit in a rocking chair before she bought it (always a wise policy). While we were there, Don and I discovered the Chair-and-a-Half. Yes, that's what it's called. It's an extra-wide armchair, of the extremely squishy sort. It fits two people and also unfolds into a twin-sized bed. There's a matching ottoman (also squishy) which doubles as a large storage container.

I love it. I plan to get a set (chair and ottoman) for the third upstairs bedroom, which will be either a craft room or an office or both. We'll have a guest room with a queen-sized guest bed in the second bedroom, so the chair-and-a-half won't often be needed to actually sleep guests, but it's the perfect solution for exceedingly comfy seating in what will be my personal space, and if we do ever have a houseful of guests, it's valuable extra sleeping space. And so soft and squishy. I love it in the khaki microfiber fabric they offer.

In general, I'm not a big furniture-planner; I like to use rooms before I furnish them, so I can really get the perfect furniture for the use the room winds up being put to. But the chair-and-a-half is different. It's totally on my list. And I don't even have a list.

Friday, September 15, 2006

making the switch

I'm going to be switching over to Blogger Beta within the next week or so. I was invited to switch over almost immediately after they rolled this upgrade out, but I've been waiting until they resolved some of the issues that concerned me most. According to their issues blog, they've fixed most of the things I was most worried about and several other things I might have worried about if I'd known about them. So it seems like it's time.

I'm really looking forward to the new tag support -- I plan to go through all of my older posts and tag them with relevant content tags, and then set up a sidebar sorter so people can just look for certain types of content. Tags are one of my favorite blogging features, particularly in a themed blog like this one. I'm really glad Blogger is going to support them.

I'll also be selecting a new layout -- hopefully one with three columns, to give me a little more room for content. I don't know yet if I'll be putting ads up; I'd like to, as it would be awfully nice to make something off of this thing I put so much time into, but if I can't integrate them in nicely, I won't. We'll see.

So, this is just a heads-up that you're going to see a few changes here. Please let me know if any problems come up with the switchover -- hopefully they've fixed all of the bugs we might encounter, but I am still a little worried about the potential for communications slowdown.

I don't have an exact date for the switch, since I'm pretty busy with both work and school right now (not to mention tired and nauseous due to the damn steroids), but I will make every effort to get things up and running in the next week. And hopefully I'll have some real, actually house-related content soon, too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

design blog

If you've been looking at my blogger profile recently -- though I don't know why you would, other than to find out my astrological sign (I'm a Virgo!) -- you'll have noticed that there's another blog listed down there in the 'blogs' section.

As part of the class I'm currently taking ('Words and Images'), I'm required to have a blog. That blog is intended to be a sort of scrapbook of design ideas, resources, concepts I like, and anything else design-related that comes to mind. So if you're desperately interested in things like typography, layout, writing, or my opinions on calligraphy, feel free to read that one, too. If you're not, stick with gross pictures of my poisoned arm. It's all good.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


According to my doctor, I am extraordinarily sensitive to poison oak and ivy.

Also, it is very hard to take a picture of your own arm.

In case you're curious -- I haven't even set foot in the yard in about two and a half weeks. That picture was taken three seconds ago.

The doctor has prescribed heavy-duty oral steroids. Expect mood swings and unpleasantness all round for the next fifteen days.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Maybe all the contractors have heard about our jinx. That would explain why we can't seem to get anyone to call us back. We've called seven contractors and two placement services, and nobody will talk to us. We leave messages, we speak with receptionists, we leave detailed accounts of what we want done -- and no calls.

I take it back -- we did get two calls this weekend. One person is out of town and will have to get back to us later, and the other only does 'turn-key' renovations.

I think the 'turn-key' issue is going to be our biggest one, once we can actually find our way out of whatever telephone oblivion we've stumbled into and start talking to people. 'Turn-key', if you don't know, means a renovation that is totally complete -- you can 'turn your key' in the door and move on in. No worries. We, on the other hand, want about as far from turn-key as you can get. All we want is structural framework done; no electrical, no plumbing, no drywall, no floors, no nothing. We have a contractor lined up for our HVAC work, patiently waiting (and hopefully not dead or anything yet) for us to get this frame work done so he can come in and install the air conditioning. Everything else, we'll be doing ourselves or having installers put in. Most contractors, though, do the whole job or nothing, and pride themselves on it. So it's going to be hard to find someone who'll just do what we want.

And even harder to get them to call us back.

Friday, September 08, 2006

local flavor

Last night we got to take a tour of the Clipper City Brewing Company, and taste several of their beers. It was an event put together by UMBC's Chapter of Young Alumni, and it was really fun. Not only did we learn a heck of a lot about beer brewing and bottling, we got to spend time with some old friends and drink some good beer (well, Don says it was good -- I don't actually drink beer :P).

In any case, the best part of all is that it turns out Clipper City is right in our neighborhood, practically down the street from us! Who knew there was such great local flavor right nearby? I love to discover new things about our neighborhood, and the brewery has some great history behind it. The man who gave us the tour was the man who founded the company, so he gave us great insight into both the history and the science that was going on around us (and he was really funny!).

Though our tour was a private event, Clipper City does have free public tours one Saturday a month, with a chance to sample their beers. You can find details here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

the evolution of sleep

The cat has adapted pretty well to living in a house which is in a constant state of flux. Yeah, she runs at your feet and tries to trip you when you walk across the construction areas, and she howls at the top of her lungs whenever a door is shut anywhere in the house which might potentially block her path if she were to choose to go in that direction even though she doesn't actually want to right now thank you very much, and she definitely has an issue with rolling around in the plaster dust, and she thinks coming into the bathroom with you while you're going is fun and chewing on the shower curtain is even more fun, but overall she's adjusted quite well.

Every so often, she'll embark upon a quest to find the Next Great Nap Place, and we'll find her sleeping experimentally all over the house. Here's her latest experiment: the laundry.

Monday, September 04, 2006

ernesto aftermath

We weren't much affected by Tropical Storm Ernesto -- a lot of wind and rain on Friday night (my umbrella turned inside out twice while I was walking from my car to the bar for the Blogger Happy Hour, and I was a block away) and some leftover rain on Saturday. In the end, our garbage cans were knocked over by the wind and the big maple in the backyard was... um... aggressively trimmed by the storm. We went out on Sunday to do some other yardwork and I cleared up all of the branches which had fallen.