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Friday, December 29, 2006

my preciousssss

We ordered this stove yesterday. It'll be delivered on January 19th, which is the weekend that Don and his dad will be finishing up the structural work and making room for it in the kitchen.

It's so beautiful! *sniff*

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

wednesday = home improvement

Talk about a productive day.

The roofers got here at 7:30 this morning. By the time they left -- around 5 PM -- the entire back side of the roof was stripped, and they'd begun putting new flashing on. Our sales rep called later and told us that the foreman had called him in a state of shock and informed him that there were in fact three full layers of shingles on our roof, attached with nothing less than four-inch nails (!). Gah. Anyway, the crew was super efficient and astonishingly clean -- they cleaned up all of the shingles that fell all around the house so that right now, while they aren't here, the only sign that they've been here is the dumpster in the driveway. Well, and the half-gone roof covered with tarp, but you catch my drift.

So anyway, right after the roofers got here, the first HVAC estimator got here, and spent about an hour talking to us and measuring the house. As he was pulling out, the plumber pulled in. We got him started, and sat down for a brief distraction (for any of you Wii-owning people, Super Mario Brothers for the NES is finally up in the virtual console. Just saying.). Then the second HVAC estimator showed up, and did the same thing as the first one.

The plumber stayed until about 3, and did an awesome job. We now have a brand spanking new -- and totally up to code -- gas line to feed our dryer, and another to feed our as-yet hypothetical gas stove.

So we tested the dryer and lo! It still doesn't work. Turns out that not only was the gas line all busted, the dryer is a piece of crap too. So buying a new washer and dryer is now necessary, not just a bonus (okay, the washer is a bonus, since ours works, but who doesn't want their washer and dryer to match?). So once we waved our friend Jason the plumber (ask for him, he is nice) away, we headed to the Sears in the Security Square mall, because Don's mom told us they have the biggest appliance showroom in the area. We'd looked online while the plumber was plumbing, and we wrote down a few numbers of a few stoves that looked likely. We thought we knew what washer and dryer we wanted, from a previous drooling expedition, so we thought we were set there.

Well, we got to Sears, and it turned out that the washer and dryer we thought we wanted would have cost a LOT. We looked around and found two other options which do the exact same thing, for a lot less, so we'll be doing some research and deciding between the two this week. But the big news is that we found a stove. And we actually agreed on it and everything. Anyone who knows us will know how monumental this is.

Anyway, I'll hopefully be a little more prepared later this week and I'll give you all links and pictures and that sort of thing, so you can see all the progress we've made. Seriously, I think we got more done today than we have this whole year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

official rules

Here is an extremely fuzzy cell phone picture to illustrate Official Christmas Rule #12:

By the end of the day, no matter what, I will be wearing a bow on my head.

I hope you all had a great holiday, whichever you celebrate -- as a 'blended' sort of family, we get lucky and celebrate Chanukah AND Christmas, which just means that we go to more parties -- and hopefully you'll all have a fantastic New Year.

My personal New Year is looking pretty damn sweet, pardon my language: we will be ordering a new washer and dryer and a new stove, getting a new roof, having heat installed, and finishing the downstairs structural work. All in the next couple of weeks. Talk about turning over a new leaf!

Friday, December 22, 2006


I've just turned on word verification for comments. I apologize if it makes commenting more of a hassle for any of you, but I am getting a LOT of spam on some of my old posts, and it's filling up my inbox. I'm hoping this will solve the problem without me having to resort to comment moderation -- I am lazy, and don't want to have to sort through each and every comment and take action on them!

I'd once thought about switching this blog over to WordPress or Movable Type and getting a domain name for it, but I don't know if I really want to anymore. I suppose it depends on readership. If the masses suddenly start flocking here for my wisdom in great quantities, then it might be worth it, but as it is now -- not that I don't love you, my miniscule masses -- it seems like this is quite functional enough.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

special guests

Our upcoming long holiday weekend is going to be filled to the brim with visitors -- paid ones! We have a plumber coming on Saturday to hopefully fix the gas line for the dryer (why yes, that is the 'Hallelujah Chorus' you hear playing in the background), and an HVAC person coming out to give us an estimate that morning. We'll be at Don's parents' place for most of the day on Monday, Christmas Day. Then Tuesday the roofers are coming to deliver thousands of pounds of shingles and a giant dumpster. Plus another two HVAC guys, and one on Wednesday when the roofers arrive to start work.

Maybe I'll feed them all cookies.

Anyway, I don't know how much time I'll have to blog, as the holidays -- yes, ours started almost a week ago, with Chanukah -- tend to be a little overwhelming. But at least more progress is getting made! I hope the plumber can fix our gas line -- being able to do laundry in my own house for the first time in a year would definitely be the best present of all.

Monday, December 18, 2006


We made cookies! My friend Jocelyn came over on Sunday for Girls' Baking Day In (Lindley couldn't make it this time, but she promises to come next time), and we made more cookies than any two people ought to be able to physically produce. Above you can see our somewhat chaotic setup, on the new counter.

Don got me a Kitchenaid artisan mixer for Christmas (!) and gave it to me early so that I could use it for this, so when Jocelyn brought hers over, too, we had dual mixers going for our cookie madness. We made chocolate chip cookies (with semisweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and walnuts), meyer lemon and black pepper cookies (sooooo good), Farmgirl's molasses ginger spice snaps, quatresemali (like cinnamon-y almond biscotti), and sugar cookies.

It was a productive sort of day -- and the Ravens are going to the playoffs, too! Awesome!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

reader questions: how to get rid of a pool

I wrote about some of this a few other times -- in May and June, specifically, when we began the whole process -- but not about it as a whole, and someone asked, so I thought I'd tell you how we did it.

The first thing we did was take off the railings and most of the 'deck' planks, since they were in our way. Don started out trying, as he put it, to be 'civilized about it,' using an impact hammer to unscrew all of the bolts that held the various metal bits in place. It didn't work; the bolts all just became smooth and worn. So he got out his trusty reciprocating saw and its 'for metal' blade. Boom. Railings down. Unfortunately, we threw them away before Don's dad told us that they were worth money from the scrap metal recycling place, and after we took the deck planks off, somebody stole them, presumably to sell them to the same place. Damn!

After those large impediments were gone, we set to work draining the pool with a submersible pump connected to a garden hose, with the tail end tossed at the back of our property, in the weeds. We kept an eye on it and made sure that the ground didn't get too saturated, but since we did it during the summer it wasn't too much of a problem.

Once we'd gotten all the water out that we could with the submersible pump, Don donned his goo-proof boots and headed in with his trusty exacto knife, to cut the vinyl liner into easily-folded sections, which we then bundled into trash bags (my job was to steady the garbage can -- v. important).

Finally, it was time to really take that sucker apart. Most aluminum aboveground pools are constructed of slats which slide together on small tracks (kind of like hardwood flooring, but metal. And upright. And... uh... outside. So not like it at all, but whatever). So the trick is to slide the slats out -- they're also seated in a track which, in our case, was neatly buried under the ground. So it takes some yanking. We used crowbars, hammers, the reciprocating saw, leverage, and lots of brute force. It wasn't very fun. Some slats came out easily, others resisted until we literally cut them in half.

Finally, we (mostly Don) got all of it out, and we separated any plastic bits out -- the stairwell that led down into the pool, for one, and a few other drainage-y bits. Today, we rented a truck and loaded everything else up and took it to a scrap metal recycling center (I Googled "recycle maryland aluminum" and got a list; we chose the one Don's dad recommended, in Glen Burnie). They took the aluminum off our hands and we left $220 dollars richer (they give you 50 cents a pound! And 40 cents for the stuff that still had steel bolts in it).

So that's how you get yourself a lovely hole in your backyard, if you're interested. A lot of effort for a hole, let me tell you.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

in debt

Last night we signed our lives away to the tune of twelve thousand dollars, to a very pleasant lady who reminded me a great deal of my mother's friend Debbie. It's the loan to pay for our new roof, which is due to be installed sometime after Christmas.

Apparently, our roof is very big. Who knew?

Anyway, we got a pretty good deal on financing, with payments not due to start until June. Don anticipates that (barring any unforeseen tragedies or windfalls or both) this particular debt ought to be paid off in a little under a year, which isn't too bad.

You may recall that we have practiced careful house-related money management before; so far, all has gone fairly well. Don is really astonishingly good at this sort of thing -- he's actually decided to extend his undergraduate career a bit and pick up another major: Financial Economics. It's a good thing he's around, because I can barely manage to total up how much the groceries cost!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

this countertop has CHANGED MY LIFE

Because now I have a place to put my empty pizza boxes and coke bottles.

No, just kidding. This is the new counter that Don and I installed last weekend. It's rough, but functional. It makes the kitchen a hundred times more efficient, though. There's room to work! I love it. Next up: shelves! I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

wide open spaces

This is the view from the living room, through the dining room, into the family room and out into the kitchen. You can see the new framework that Don and his dad put in. This house is going to be so awesome when it's finished.

The next thing the menfolk will be doing is opening another doorway into the kitchen, basically behind where that ladder is right now, to allow direct access from the dining room to the kitchen. In the meantime, we get to start rewiring both rooms -- when they opened the door into the living room, they found one wire in the wall that was almost completely charred through. Hello, fire hazard. We'll be rewiring the whole house eventually. Got to start somewhere!

Monday, December 11, 2006

insert 'rocky' theme song here

Duh na na na na na na na na na naaaaaaaaaa!

Friday, December 08, 2006

ah, november

November was a month of many things, both good and bad, and all time-consuming and making me un-blog-motivated.

At the beginning of the month, I had an extraordinarily painful and wholly unexpected minor surgery on my lady bits. It wasn't fun. Less fun was the fact that I was minorly misled about my expected recuperation time; I wound up flat on my back for more than a week, when I'd expected to be back at work in two days.

In the meantime, however, Don and his dad accomplished something quite remarkable: progress!

They took down the wall between the dining room and family room, installing a header to keep the house up, and ripped open a big door from the dining room to the living room. For a good week afterwards, we were hard put not to giggle gleefully every time we stepped through the new doorway.

And then! And then. We bought a Wii. Yes, people, we own a Wii. It is AWESOME. As soon as I was recovered enough to stand up, we indulged ourselves in a great deal of Wii Tennis and Wii Bowling.

Just as the novelty of the Wii began to wear off (who am I kidding? It's still AWESOME!), I suddenly realized that I was quite alarmingly behind in various important school-related things like actually doing my homework. So I had to catch up. Fortunately, I had that whole Thanksgiving weekend! Like I did any work then.

Thanksgiving at Don's parents this year was hectic! All four siblings were there, with spouses and children where appropriate. It was noisy and boisterous and lots of fun. Then, the next day, we headed down to Don's older sister's house for a long evening of card-playing and baby-cuddling, and were rewarded by both: we won seventy bucks and Don caught the baby's cold.

The next night happened to be our four-year anniversary (!), and Don surprised me with a fabulous (and pricy -- good thing we won at poker) dinner at Della Notte in Little Italy and a movie: "Happy Feet." So cute!

Then we discovered that he'd caught baby Mikey's cold. So it was his turn to be flat on his back, as it turned out to be a very bad cold indeed. Wonderful.

Once he recovered and I'd caught up some with school work, we did the unthinkable: accomplished something.

No, I'm serious. Stop laughing.

Having decided to hold off on the fullscale renovation of the kitchen until a) we have lots of money and b) something else in the house is done (maybe whichever comes first), we decided that we need to make the kitchen a little more functional. Part of this will happen on the third weekend in January, when Don's dad is scheduled to come out and help cut a door between the kitchen and the dining room, and when we'll get a new oven -- they have to move it anyway to make the door, so we're seizing the opportunity to replace the only actually nonfunctional thing in the kitchen. The rest of it, though, we can do ourselves. What we need is more countertop space and more storage space. So we built a countertop. We built a frame out of 2x4s and slapped a prefabricated six foot sheet of laminate countertop over it. It's not pretty, but you can chop things on it. I'll put up pictures as soon as I have time to take them.

Time is currently in short supply, of course. I finally managed to get all of the christmas shopping done, and packages are slowly trickling in (including one yesterday, while I was working from home, just after I'd gotten out of the shower, delivered by a really cute UPS guy who didn't even blink an eye when I answered the door in my white fluffy robe). School is finishing up -- last class is tomorrow, and a final review next week. The holidays are fast approaching, with family commitments and parties and blah blah blah. And fraternity doings take up a lot of time, for both of us.

In conclusion:
- Yes, Snay, I'm alive.
- Got some stuff done.
- Had some stuff happen.
- Got a Wii.
- Still crunched for time.
- Sorry I didn't blog. :(
- Wii is still AWESOME.
- Pictures of house coming soon.