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Friday, December 28, 2007

all too brief

We had a free weekend for once this past weekend, right before Christmas, so we took the opportunity to sneak off for a brief visit to New Jersey, where we played with the cutest baby ever and enjoyed the luxury of my cousin's finished, luxurious house. Ahhh, comfort.

Now it's back to the grind, of course. Don and his dad are at Home Depot as I type, getting the supplies to build a chute from the upstairs window to the dumpster in preparation for Demolition Day (January 5th! You're still invited!).

Monday, December 24, 2007

merry christmas to me

Don got me both the Dremel 400 XPR and the workstation to turn it into a drill press. I put it together today, and it's awesome. (Yes, I got it early because I had to show him which one I wanted. :) )

My christmas present to myself? A new card reader for my camera, because mine's busted. Which is one of the reasons I haven't blogged recently -- plugging the camera directly into the computer is a pain in the ass. I finally did it, so expect many pictures soon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

it's a party, and you're invited!

For those of you who weren't on my hastily-put together email list, here's the invite to the demolition party!


Hi everyone! As most of you know by now, we're ready to gut the upstairs of our house. And, as always, that means a demolition party!

When: Saturday, January 5th, 8 AM until we're done (or until you're exhausted, we won't force you to stay ;) )
Where: [those of you viewing this on one of my blogs, email or comment for the address]

What to bring: If you've got them, please feel free to bring your own tools (crowbars, sledgehammers, reciprocating saws), work gloves, and/or safety goggles. We do have extras of everything, but lots of people are most comfortable with their own. Make sure to wear clothes you don't mind getting dirty in, and sturdy, closed-toe shoes.

We'll be providing donuts and coffee in the morning for those of you gracious enough to show up early (we're starting at 8), and food for lunch as well (probably pizza). We'll have lots of bottled water on hand to make sure you're hydrated, too.

Please let us know you're coming -- you can email me at jamailac at gmail dot com or call [cell number redacted for public consumption] -- so that we have a vague idea of how much food to get and whether we need to pick up a few more crowbars. And yes, you can invite a friend.

Looking forward to seeing everyone and indulging in some wanton destruction!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

not exactly a zen sanctuary

I must admit that I'd kind of hoped for better when we finally had guests stay at the house. I pictured a calm, peaceful, and most of all comfortable guest room, with a comfy bed and everything a guest could want or need to have a nice stay. I suppose someday that will happen, but for now this is what we've got. This is our family room (or at least the bare bones of it), where my sister is staying for the next week. At least I got the comfy bed down -- and it comes with a pair of fuzzy warm socks and petting priviledges to one dumb but cute and occasionally cuddly cat. Also, an oil heater borrowed from Don's parents, placed at the foot of the bed and (hopefully) warming things up a bit. We set up a garment rack, since there's not exactly any closet space, so she can hang up any of her clothes that she wants to.

My sister got here last night, and she seems perfectly cheerful about the whole situation -- but then again, my sister got her degree in archaeology, and has spent whole summers living in tents in the deserts of the Southwest or the jungles of Belize. So I guess an aerobed won't kill her. Hopefully by the next time she visits that zen sanctuary will be ready.

Monday, December 03, 2007

normal day

Don said this morning that today is our only normal day in quite a while. He's right, and it made it REALLY hard not to stay home and enjoy it! For the last several weeks, and for several in the future, either we've had company or he's been gone or we've had social engagements to be at. It's not that I don't love that feeling, mind you -- the holidays are one of my favorite times of the year, because I love always being busy with friends and family, and having company, and being able to entertain people -- but the sheer volume of it this year is a little daunting when you add Don's recent and planned business trips.

Today we're in between a business trip and a family visit -- Don got back from California this weekend and my sister arrives for a weeklong visit tomorrow (about which we are SO PUMPED, because we never get to see her). So today is our only normal day in quite a while. Which, of course, we're using to frantically clean, grocery shop, etc. But that's no different from our usual pace of life. ;)

Over the weekend we had the opportunity to go with some friends to the Johns Hopkins Symphony Orchestra's performance of Beethoven's 9th. It was quite good, although I'm afraid that large parts of it went totally unnoticed while we tried to control our hysterical giggling over the young man in front of us who was consistently falling asleep -- on Don's knee. Don was not amused, but the rest of us were. It was a nice break from our usual house-related flailing.

Speaking of the flailing, Don is attempting to curtail it by coming up with a schedule for house stuff for the next couple of months. We all know how well THOSE work around here. Nevertheless, he's come up with a fairly definite date for the upstairs demolition (again) -- so if you're free January 5th and want to pick up a sledgehammer, let us know. I'll post further information as we figure it out.

Friday, November 30, 2007

done moving

I actually forgot to post earlier this week about the fact that we've officially completed the move downstairs. Don wired in another of the ceiling fan lights from upstairs to light the new temporary bedroom:

Then he put up some 2x4s to re-create the old front hallway between the stairs and the living room and stapled tarp to them to make the last wall, fully enclosing the living room. All of the tools that were in the family room got moved up stairs so that we can use it as a guest room -- Lindley's already used it, over the weekend while we were selling at the convention. My sister will be using it next week.

As soon as Don gets back from his latest business trip, he's going to start organizing the upstairs demolition. The window company called us and said they were looking for work in the next few months, and would we be interested in a couple of incentives? Why certainly! So as soon as the demo gets done upstairs they'll come in and do the windows finally. And sometime around there the upstairs HVAC will get done, too. It seems that scheduling things in the off season is really the way to get fast service in the contracting world.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

not a bloggy time of year for me

The holidays are a serious danger to my blogging. This is always the time of year when things start to lapse around here, internet-wise. Last year it was a surgery -- this year it's work, work, work! We've been slammed at the office, churning out proposals as fast as we can and working a lot of overtime.

And the holiday weekend, unfortunately, was NOT a break for me!

We were vendors at Darkover 2007 all weekend -- setup started Friday at 11 AM and the show ended Sunday at about 4 PM. The picture above is of me taking down our booth on Sunday (I'm sorting rocks!). Lindley's full set is here. It was fun -- our first real convention, and successful enough to merit going back next year -- but it's definitely work to be a seller at these sorts of things, and more work after three weeks of full-tilt proposal writing plus a long Thanksgiving day over at Chez Brinkley was pretty wearing. (It didn't help that I had to be up at five AM Sunday morning to take Don to the airport in the middle of all of this!) By the end of the weekend I was ready to sleep sleep sleep. But of course I didn't get to, because my mom and I had arranged to spend Monday Christmas shopping together. Most of my list is crossed off after a successful day (and a few online orders in the evening), but I woke up on Tuesday running a fever, aching, and exhausted. My body just wanted to finally shut down. I called in and said I was staying home to rest, but not more than an hour later I got an emergency assignment from work that HAD to be done, and had to be done fast. By me. Sigh. No rest accomplished.

Then it was back to work yesterday, for another extra-long day, and more of the same for the rest of the week. I'm hoping that this weekend I can FINALLY relax a little bit -- and maybe clean up the disaster area that is my house after three weeks of coming home late with no time to clean, plus Anapurna displays and inventory strewn wherever we put them after unloading the car Sunday night, plus the detritus of family visits (in addition to my mom this past weekend, my dad and grandparents were here the weekend before that -- and my sister is coming to visit on Tuesday! Augh!) -- restaurant leftovers, empty boxes, souvenirs from Dad's trip to Greece, a box of Grandma's cookies (Don LOVES them), bags and bits from shopping trips and crafty discussions with Mom, and all the other things that build up when people come over.

So, uh, maybe not so much relaxation. Just cleaning. Lots of cleaning

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

studio helper

I was trying to take some bead photos to list some stuff on our Etsy shop the other day, but I had a little unexpected help.

Also, I need a macro filter like whoa.

Monday, November 19, 2007

so crafty

Today I organized my temporary craft space. It was pretty satisfying, I feel like I can finally get some things done.



Check out pics of each of the tables -- here and here -- for my notes on what everything is, if you're curious.

Administrative PS: I'm switching to a somewhat larger font from now on, so that my grandmother can read the blog a little more easily. :) I doubt most of you will notice or care, but that's why the font's bigger now.

Friday, November 16, 2007

a little surprise for don

I have been keeping this a secret ALL WEEK. And that's a major accomplishment, as anyone who knows me knows that I'm not so great at keeping secrets of the happy variety. But I'm pretty sure that Don has checked out of his hotel and won't have Internet access til he gets home tonight, so I can finally post this!

On Sunday, after I dropped Don off at the airport, I moved all of our bedroom furniture downstairs to its new home in the living room. The bed, both dressers, the TV, and the nightstands. I went out during the week and picked up some inexpensive garment racks, and got all of our clothes moved down. I've also cleaned the downstairs bathroom and moved all of our bathroom stuff down.

He's going to be pretty surprised. We were both disappointed that we didn't manage to find time to move the bed down before he left, and he said "Well, at least I know you won't hurt yourself trying to move the other stuff down, since there's no way you can move the bed down by yourself and there's no point in moving the other furniture without the bed." Little did he know! We made plans to move the bedroom furniture this weekend, after he got back, trying to fit it around his flight in, D&D on Saturday, and a visit from family on Sunday. But as soon as he was gone, I came back home and managed to get it all done by myself! And no, I didn't hurt myself except for one scraped knuckle. Actually, I hurt myself more when I fell down the stairs this morning not trying to do anything at all than I did during all that effort.

Anyway, I finished the last bit up this morning and took the picture above and this one, which I've put notes in for you curious types. It shows the whole room, as seen from the stairs.

I've managed to keep it a secret all week, so I'm excited to see what he says tonight. I'm sure he knew I'd try to get SOMETHING done, but I don't think he would ever imagine that I got all of this done. Go me!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

things i have learned while don was away

-Left alone, I talk to myself. Like, a lot. In parking lots, too.

-Bagel chips and garlic-herb cheese spread are a perfectly acceptable dinner.

-I'm both more and less self-sufficient than I expected.

-There really is nothing good on TV.

-Sledgehammers are heavy, even little ones.

-The Bank of America on Route 1 near the Laurel Mall doesn't exist anymore.

-Working late can be satisfying when you get a lot done.

-The grocery store is open until midnight.

-Don't go to the grocery store when you're hungry, you'll wind up eating bagel chips and cheese spread for dinner.

-A week is shorter than I thought but it's still kind of a long time.

I'm looking forward to Don coming home tomorrow. The cat, on the other hand, could take it or leave it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

office space

new office
Originally uploaded by jamailac
The last thing Don did this weekend before he left for his business trip was to move our office downstairs. He even took the ceiling light/fan from the upstairs back bedroom that had been serving as the temporary office and wired it into a temporary setup to give us some overhead light! He really struggled to get it all done before he left on Sunday, and I really, really appreciate it.

This photo's kind of dark, so you may want to click through to see the larger version on Flickr -- I've put some notes in there to identify everything, if you like that sort of thing.

I'm really excited to finally have some usable surface space in the house. You can see that the Anapurna stuff is currently strewn all over the two tables on the right that we set up for exactly that purpose; I'm going to try to organize it a bit so that those tables can be used as crafting space, leaving the extra table in between our desks available for us to use for more office-y purposes (right now it holds the printer, my week's to-do list, and a test setup for some photography that I was trying out, having dug my tripod out finally). And for the cat to walk on, of course. She's already indulged herself in that privilege several times since I put the table up.

Monday, November 12, 2007

kind of like a padded room

So, I promised pictures of The Great Tarping of Ought Seven. Here's one, anyway. Living in this space is a little surreal; the tarp covers everything from floor to ceiling, so it can be a little unnerving. I'm not used to black walls and black ceilings and vaguely shiny rooms. As you can see, Don put clear tarp over the windows, to keep the light but make sure we're maintaining the insulatory effect and also for privacy for when we move down. The picture above is the corner of the living room; the entire living room and dining room look like this. Very weird.

Friday, November 09, 2007

make it hot, hot, hot

The heat is fixed -- HVAC guy did in fact show up, although not as promptly as we might have hoped. He installed some pipes and voila! Leak-free heat. So that's good.

As for the progress that's been made downstairs, I haven't got any pictures, as my camera battery is dead and I haven't decided what to unplug to plug the charger in. Life will be so much easier when our whole house has functioning electricity and fully-installed outlets. Anyway, what's happened is that Don has actually managed to completely line the downstairs walls with tarp. This is going to serve as makeshift insulation, creating an air barrier between us and the outside. It's not much, but it's better than nothing. He's also lined the ceilings, both to prevent hot air from rising to the soon-to-be-unused second story and to prevent plaster dust and construction debris from falling through the floor and severely damaging something, like the cat. It's all about the preparation (he was an Eagle Scout! Did you know? As far as I can tell the only thing he gained from it was a lot of experience playing Magic: The Gathering and the ability to tie seemingly complicated knots that don't actually hold things together [I'm pretty sure bungee cords were invented to save us from Eagle Scouts]).

So, there is in fact a possibility that by the time he flies out for his business trip on Sunday (still no idea how I'm going to entertain myself for a WHOLE WEEK without somebody to bicker with), we could in fact have at least the bed downstairs. And maybe the desks. This is complicated by the fact that I'm going to the Bead Society of Greater Washington's Bead Bazaar with Lindley tomorrow, and we still have to do a lot of laundry, but still! Heat! Not having to huddle in bed under the down blanket at 7 PM because it's the only place to be moderately warm! Very exciting.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

soooo coooold

I'm waiting for the HVAC guy. It's like some horrible version of deja vu, except with added coldness.

Our new heating thingie (I never know the difference between a furnace and a heat pump so I have no idea which one we have -- therefore you get the technical term 'thingie') is leaking water all over the basement. Don called the HVAC guy yesterday and he said not to panic, it's actually a fairly common problem with new installations. Apparently the manufacturer often ships a faulty water line with these units, so it has to be replaced. HVAC guy is supposed to be here sometime around 11 today to fix it, very prompt service on his part if it actually happens.

In the meantime, Don has turned off the heat so that the basement won't be full of water -- probably a sensible thing to do, really. But I'm the one who's stuck at home waiting with no heat. He has a super-important briefing at work today, so he had to go in. I have a lot of super-important things to do, too -- we have a proposal due in about a week -- but I agreed to stay home for the morning. I'll go into the office after HVAC guy gets here. In the meantime, I freeze.

Seriously, I'm SO COLD. My hands are so cold I could hardly type this stupid post. Ugh, winter sucks!

Further progress has been made downstairs but I'm too cold to write about it, you'll just have to wait.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

karma strikes again

So, last week, Anger Hangover posted about this terrifying bug she found in her bathroom. (Seriously, click through and look at the picture, then come back. I'll wait for the shakes to stop.)

At the Blogger Happy Hour on Friday, I may have made fun of her a teeny bit. Just a little. I might have mentioned that bugs can crawl under bathroom doors. I may have casually told her that the bug probably crawled into her ear and laid eggs in her brain. Maybe. Just a little. You know.

Well, karma is a bitch. Because guess what was in MY bathroom last night?


Now, I don't think the same bug crawled over to Baltimore Highlands from Pigtown after laying its stock of eggs in AH's fertile brain-juice. But it was definitely the same kind of bug. EXACTLY the same kind of bug.

Don killed it.

He's staying home today -- hopefully if we're haunted, the evil bug ghost will go after him and not the cat. She's too cute to die!

PS: Special note to the Baltimore Ravens, whose game we were watching when the exciting events above occured: COME ON. Seriously. You guys. Just because it's the Steelers' 75th anniversary blah blah blah didn't mean you had to GIVE them the game. You could have at least made them have to TRY. I don't think I'll even be able to watch the upcoming Ravens-Patriots game. It's going to be a massacre.

Monday, November 05, 2007

how the cat wishes we would spend every day

And how we spent a great deal of the weekend, which means I have absolutely nothing to post about this week. Also: note identical expressions of smirky glee.

Friday, November 02, 2007

i need to start using my tripod

This action wiring shot came out okay, but it could have been better.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

no halloween here

We don't really do anything for Halloween. Once the house is done, we might put out a pumpkin or two and a harvest-y wreath on the door or anything, but we certainly don't do it now. The kids in our neighborhood are very good about abiding by the "if the lights aren't on there's no trick-or-treating" rule, so we just don't turn on our front porch light. Actually, even if we wanted to we couldn't, since the electricity to the outside lights is still turned off (they're wired to the same fuses we had to turn off when we gutted the first floor). Not to mention our front stairs are pretty unsafe-looking, what with the overgrown weeds and wobbly-looking railings. So we don't buy any candy and we don't do costumes or anything. We weren't invited to any Halloween parties (although my office is having a "Halloween potluck" in about half an hour, for which I made a greek salad).

I may try to convince Don that we ought to go out to dinner, just to avoid the neighborhood Halloween crowd (plus I forgot to take anything out of the freezer this morning). I'm glad, though, that we don't live in the city -- where our friends are dealing with "Ghettoween" tonight.

But happy Halloween to everybody anyway. Maybe by this time next year we'll be able to accomodate trick or treaters.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

we'll be there, will you?

I'm dumb and forgot to upload my pictures from this weekend again. Hopefully I'll remember tonight, although I've got to go to the grocery, make a salad for a potluck, find a certain pair of earrings from the Big Box of Inventory (of doooooom!), take care of a migrainey fiance, deal with dinner, and make sure the proposal I'm writing is ready for printing tomorrow. So, you know, no promises.

But! There is one promise I can make, and that is that both the elusive Don and I will be at this Friday's Blogger Happy Hour at Holy Frijoles! I'm going for the people, he's going for the margaritas. If you're local, come out! (And if you're not local, drive here and THEN come out!) The Baltimore bloggers are, without fail, fabulous and awesome and seriously friendly.

(PS don't forget to do like Danielle did and check out the new stuff on Etsy, if you see something you love I can just bring it to the happy hour!)

Monday, October 29, 2007

productivity without participation on my part is totally the best kind

I am exceedingly meh today. I was incapacitated most of the weekend with Girl Troubles, which made for a less than restful time. We did get out to our friends' house to play D&D like the dorks we are (it doesn't hurt that they have three extremely cute cats, all of whom are moderately snuggly). Sunday was our official Work On The House day. We discovered that our new heating system works marvelously well -- on the first floor. This hastened our approach to moving downstairs, as you can probably imagine. So Don spent the day running wire and installing outlets in the dining room and living room so that we'll have power for our temporary living quarters. The outlets are just temporary; they aren't even installed in the wall or anything, just tucked away on the floor in corners so they're out of the way. I'll post pictures tomorrow; I did take a few, I just haven't transferred them over to the computer yet.

My job during the wiring process was to occasionally go and pull wires through the floor whenever Don poked them up at me, and hold them while he ran up and down the stairs making sure of whatever he was making sure of. This left a lot of time for other things, so I spent most of the day working on the Anapurna Etsy site, and uploading new inventory. Very exciting! Go look.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

popping up on my RSS feed

Martha Stewart has a blog now. And somehow that woman finds time to post every day (or at least to write -- I recognize her writing style well enough to know that it's her putting together the words, but I can't guarantee she's the one logging into TypePad to actually hit 'publish post' every day [also I find it kind of accessibly charming that she's using TypePad instead of just having her web gurus just whip up a page for her to upload to or something]). As usual, she puts me to shame. But I still can't get enough of the inside peeks into things like photo shoots for the production of a new book, or glimpses into her Bedford and Skylands houses (FIFTEEN different kinds of artisanal salt and pepper sitting ready and waiting in ramekins next to the stove, I kid you not). It's nice that's it's not just another incarnation of 'oh, check out this crafty project you too can do!' Which is all well and good, of course, but there are lots of other places in the Omnimedia Empire (PS I love the word omnimedia) to do that sort of thing. She actually seems to have grasped the concept of blogging as I see it, having a little internet window into real goings-on and personal behind the scenes stuff.

Now if only SHE'd read MY blog. I wonder if she uses an RSS feed.

rain, rain

We've been getting steady rain for the last day and a half or so, and it appears to have finally kickstarted the autumn colors to come out. Where everything was unrelentingly green (or sometimes just dead), finally we've got oranges and reds and yellows all up and down the Baltimore-Washington corridor. The downside, of course, is that apparently everyone has miraculously forgotten how to drive at the same time and traffic has been miserable since it started raining.

If it's still raining this weekend, we'll be forced to work inside, which won't exactly make me sad. I'd like to get the wiring done downstairs and at least get the office moved down before Don leaves on his first business trip (his new job is sending him on several trips over the next couple of months). That way, when I'm wandering around the house wondering what to do with myself while he's gone, I could actually do something -- either work on pulling down the paneling in the back bedroom or work on clearing out the attic, both things that need to get done.

Or, you know, I could just sit around eating ice cream. Either way.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

looks like a real kitchen

It doesn't, really. Look like a real kitchen, I mean. But it does look like a usable kitchen, which is way more important. While we were at Home Depot picking up yet more metal blades for the radiator-cutting project, I finally nagged -- I mean, convinced Don to pick up a set of plastic metal shelves for the kitchen so that we can finally put away some of the things that we've had sitting in the bathroom for storage (hush, it's not like we've been USING that bathroom). The little bookshelf has been inhabiting the kitchen in various places for a while now; it started out under the temporary countertop and then moved to where the big shelves are now. Now it's along the far wall, which seems to work pretty well.

Someday, when the kitchen is done, the refrigerator will go where the plastic shelves are, and then this whole corner will become our pantry area, with some of those big pantry cabinets and a wine refrigerator and some glass-fronted upper cabinets to store serveware. But for now, at least it's giving us some storage space.

And here's a shot from the bathroom hallway of the entire kitchen, finally put together with countertops and shelves and a microwave that's not on the floor. Very exciting. This is how the kitchen will stay for the duration of the renovation; it will be the very last thing we do, because kitchens are damned expensive. Someday, the wall that the stove is against will become a breakfast bar that's open to the dining room; the windows behind the temporary countertop will turn into french doors leading out to a hypothetically lovely backyard and deck.

For now, though, at least it's functional again. Just another step in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

gone, radiator, gone

We managed to get right into the swing of things this weekend, which I think is a pretty good sign. Now that the first floor HVAC is done, everything's on our shoulders for a while, which is SO much easier than waiting for other people. As previously mentioned, we painted on Saturday in Virginia, but on Sunday we were here at the house, making things happen.

Or rather, we made one thing happen. But it was a big thing! We finally got rid of the last of the radiators on the first floor. There were two left after our big demolition, in the two rooms that didn't get gutted: the kitchen and the bathroom. Both of the radiators were EXTREMELY oversized, particularly the one in the kitchen. Don determined that the best strategy would be to chop them up into more manageable pieces with the reciprocating saw and a metal blade. Or rather, THREE metal blades, because that's how many we went through.

The tricky bit was actually that we needed to cut these long skinny metal rods that are strung through the middle of the radiator; they're soldered to a big lump at the ends to make sure they don't come out, so the only way to get them out is to cut them. And you have to get them out, because they're close to the big thick part at the top and bottom of the radiator that has to be chopped through, and the damn saw will hit them and either bind or rebound or do something else moderately alarming.

Watch, as our kitchen floor magically gets dirtier and dirtier! Yay, metal dust! That was fun to clean up afterwards.

I didn't get any pictures of him cutting the one from the bathroom; it was actually a lot heavier even though it wasn't as long, because it was taller and thicker. The one he's cutting in these pictures is the one from the kitchen, which used to be against the wall under the window, where my beloved temporary countertop goes.

End result: three pieces of radiator, one very confused cat.

(And can I just say how AWESOME it is to finally be able to take and post pictures of THINGS ACTUALLY HAPPENING?)

Monday, October 22, 2007

the paintbrush post

Recently, we were asked to review a product here on the blog. Normally, when people offer you free tools or products in exchange for a review, what they really mean is "say nice things about us!". Which is why I generally don't do it. We're pretty dedicated to our tools; I'm not going to say nice things about something that I didn't particularly like. And, for what it's worth, I've linked to plenty of things I did like without any incentive at all -- like our dumpster guys, who still charge us. ;)

But the folks from EZ-Paint didn't insist on me saying nice things; they were adamant that they wanted our honest opinion. So, they get it.

Obviously, since we STILL don't have walls, we couldn't paint our own house. Fortunately, our close friends Lindley and Raymond are participating in the Apartment Therapy Cure 2007; a take-charge-and-make-some-positive-and-possibly-colorful-changes-in-your-space sort of program. And they needed to paint. So we loaded up our cute little paintbrush in its cute little package that we got in the mail and headed to Virginia on Saturday.

The deal with the EZ-Paint brush is that it is supposed to be practically magically easy to clean; the handle is hollow, and the top end is threaded to hook onto a garden hose or sink. The water goes straight through the handle and into the "secret" area where the bristles are attached, where it is somehow dispersed fairly evenly throughout the bristles, getting them clean in a very short amount of time.

That is, I think that's what happens. Because, you see, apparently we didn't read the supporting documentation all that well. We thought it said that you could hook it up to a garden hose or any standard sink, when in fact as it turns out the only sinks that you can hook it up to are utility sinks (or "deep sinks", as Don's very descriptive family calls them -- their old car was "the tan car" and our house is "the big house"). Well, Lindley and Raymond live in an apartment, and have neither a garden hose nor a utility sink. So we were left with this:

So. Failing the actual ability to test the actual magical-ness of the brush, here are our other thoughts.

The thing about this brush is that you shouldn't need it. It's an as-seen-on-tv, magically-make-your-life-easier sort of gimmick. If you're the sort of person who paints a lot, chances are you know how to properly clean and store your brushes. And if you do, you don't need a 'self-cleaning' brush. If you're not the sort of person who knows how to clean and store your brushes, I bet you haven't got a utility sink, either. But, on the other hand, you might have a garden hose and you also might be the sort of person who likes this sort of Make! Life! Easier! sort of gimmick. So more power to you, go ahead.

On the positive side, the brush itself is a quality brush. For the price, you are getting a very nice brush if nothing else. The bristles are high-quality polyester and appear to be the same kind you see in the high-end brushes, and they'll definitely last for a while (provided you've got a utility sink or garden hose and clean them appropriately).

The company advertises the plastic handle as both light and ergonomic; Don hates how light it is and I found it significantly less than ergonomic. The thing with having a light handle is that it means that the brush part -- the part COVERED IN PAINT -- is the heaviest part of the thing. One good swish and it's top-heavy enough to fly out of your hand and go spinning through the air and paint the cat. And believe me, I'm clumsy enough that this WILL HAPPEN (yes, I do still have green paint on my foot from Saturday, please do not ask how it got there). As for the ergonomic-ness (is that a word?), my problem -- and I realize that this is probably fairly unique to me, so I won't argue with EZ-Paint's advertising campaign -- is that I have phenomenally small hands. Like, child-size. So I found it very hard to grasp the fairly large handle, particularly in a way that made it easy for me to paint at all, let alone comfortably.

So, summary: If you don't know how or are unwilling to properly clean and care for your paintbrushes, have bigger hands and are less clumsy than me, and are in possession of a utility sink or garden hose, go for it. I'm not going to say that it's a bad product; it just seems sort of silly and unnecessary to me. But then, I'm not really the target market for it. It might have been better to ask people who don't paint often and find the task fairly daunting to review this product; I'm pretty sure their reviews would be uniformly glowing. As long as they had a deep sink.

(Make sure to check out houseblogs.net for other housebloggers' reviews of this product.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

productivity: pending

Can I tell you, I cannot WAIT until this weekend. I mean, aside from the fact that it's a weekend and I get to sleep more than usual, we're going to do something totally different from the norm: we're going to WORK ON THE HOUSE!

I KNOW! I can't believe it either. Don has been plotting and planning, so I'm assuming he's got a list of things to work on. I only care about one of them: the kitchen. We had to take the countertop that he built down for the HVAC guy, because one of the vents goes right under it and there was a radiator there, so HVAC guy needed easy access to the radiator to move it out of the way and install the vent. So we took down our countertop, but as we all know it took QUITE A WHILE for the HVAC guy to finish. Our microwave has been on the floor for WEEKS. The door-opening button is probably half-dead because I took to kicking it open instead of bending down to push it. Yes, I'm lazy.

Anyway. We finally get to re-install our countertop, which means the microwave will be in its place and various other things can be moved off of the main countertop, which gives me chopping space again. And let me tell you, I made a variation on this recipe last night and there was a lot of chopping involved. It wasn't fun with no counter space.

So I'm excited, because we're going to put the countertop back this weekend. We're also going down to Alexandria to help paint Lindley and Raymond's study and test out a mystery painting tool for houseblogger reviews -- stay tuned for that post.

Our next step is to put in some temporary electrical on the first floor. I don't know how much of that we'll get done this weekend, if any, but it's awfully nice to have it on our shoulders instead of somebody else's. Now, if stuff doesn't get done, it's our problem and not anybody else's. And we're in a lot more control of when things DO get done. I think Don's waiting to see what the weather's like this weekend before he decides whether we'll work on the electrical or get a few winterizing things done outside while we still can. But the kitchen is SO happening.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
(adapted from Ina Garten's recipe of the same name)

1 yellow bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 red onion (mine was fairly large)
4 small portobella mushrooms (Safeway is only carrying dwarf ones these days for some reason)
3 tablespoons olive oil (-ish -- it's not a precise measurement)
2-3 garlic cloves (I cheat and use the pre-minced stuff in a jar; one teaspoon is about one clove)
1 teaspoon salt (a good sprinkling -- you don't really need to measure)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (same)
1/2 pound orzo (orzo is a rice-shaped pasta; you could probably use something else if you wanted but try to use something small so the pasta doesn't overwhelm the vegetables)
4 scallions, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped or julienned
8 ounces of feta cheese

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Chop peppers, red onion, and mushroom into approximately 1-inch pieces. Think "rustic". Put chopped vegetables onto a baking sheet, and toss with oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Roast vegetables for 40 minutes, until browned. Turn once with a spatula.

Meanwhile, make the orzo as directed on the box (it's generally 'boil for 7-9 minutes'). Drain.

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk to create the dressing. In a large mixing bowl, pour dressing over pasta while it is still warm and mix.

Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta and mix, then add the minced scallions and chopped basil. Mix.

Dice the feta into approximately 1/2 inch cubes and add to the bowl. Mix carefully so as to crumble the feta as little as possible.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Notes: This salad is seriously excellent as leftovers -- it chills very well. It might be good with parsley or lemon zest added for a little additional zing, but I made it as written and it's awesome.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

um, wow

So, that was anticlimactic. HVAC guy's done! He just yelled up the stairs, so I went down and he showed me how he'd done a couple of things, and said that when we get the drywall done in the corner where the return is he'll come out and make a metal sleeve so it reaches to wherever the drywall winds up being, and I told him we'll work out when we're going to get the upstairs demolition done and give him a call for that part.

We have heat! And air conditioning! And it works! OMG!


Since Don's officially a working man now, I get to be the one who stays home for contractors these days. My job is pretty friendly towards working from home, since we've got a good VPN system and our work doesn't require top-secret secured facilities like Don's usually does. So I'm here, working on two different proposals at my very messy and non-productivity-conducing desk (I should probably fix that part). And guess who else is here?

HVAC guy! No, really! He's here! He's doing things! It's very exciting. He was scheduled to get here at 7 this morning, so Don had to roust me out of bed far earlier than I'm used to (I told him not to leave the house unless I was actively upright). He didn't show up until 7:30, after I'd sent a few increasingly snarky messages to my boss indicating that I might be in to the office after all, blah blah blah. But he showed up. I let him in and told him to yell upstairs if he needed anything and try not to let the cat out because she's not very brave, and he got to work. So far I've heard banging, thumping, drilling, and a couple of thuds and clangs, all of which I take to be a good sign.

Cross your fingers people, we might actually have heat by the end of the day. Just in time for temperatures to go back up to the 80s this weekend! Thanks, Baltimore weather!

(PS - If you get the title of this post, you're a dork. Good job. ;) )

Monday, October 15, 2007

vibes, good and otherwise

Don starts his new job today. I was up half the night being nervous for him while he slept rather peacefully. Of course he's in orientation all day, so he can't call me every other hour and tell me all about it like I want. He's not even in his actual office today, since his job is onsite on one of the many, many military installations in the area. He's at one of the corporate offices for the day, which meant that he had to leave the house at 7 this morning. Quite a drastic change for the man who was still in his underpants when I came home at 6 PM last week.

In other news, I managed to get a splinter in my foot last night, and this morning the puncture wound from it has made it very painful to walk. Which is unfortunate, since today's work at my day job involves a lot of walking back and forth to printers and the like. Sigh.

I made these cookies over the weekend, they're fantastic. Don was disappointed at first that they weren't chocolate chip, his favorite (he lives in eternal hope that THIS time, I'll be baking them), but by the end of the weekend he was violently protesting my inclination to take some of them in to the office to share. I did it anyway. (And yes, Mom, I used low-fat ricotta and it didn't make a darn bit of difference. Hooray!)

Hopefully someday soon this blog will actually go back to being house-related.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Jeannie is always talking about reno-wear -- stuff that celebrates those of us who have this wee little obsession. There've been cuff-links in the shape of tools, various t-shirts, and of course the pink tool-belts. I guess it's my turn to find one! Check out these great rings from Rob and Lean on Etsy -- handcrafted from titanium with a hard-surface countertop inlay! Go ahead, celebrate that kitchen demolition! They've got a bunch of different colors of countertop surface, and they specialize in customization -- who knows, maybe if you save some of your old countertop or even some of your new stuff they might be able to turn it into a ring for you. Ask them!

(Incidentally, we plan on getting rings from Rob and Lean sometime soon to replace our engagement rings -- they are awesome! Ours probably won't be the countertop ones, though.)

so close

The HVAC guy did show up yesterday after all. And he made a point of talking to Don before he left for the day to let him know where he was at and what still needs to be done. It's like a magical transformation! At this point, all of the vents and ducts are officially in and hooked up, including the ones in the kitchen addition. The return -- that bit that sticks out of the side of the house -- has been installed. There's one piece of ductwork missing -- the piece that connects the return to the rest of the system. It needs to be specially fabricated at the shop. After that, he needs to connect the gas line to the furnace and make a couple of other connections and the first floor will finally be done, done, done!

You would think he would just schedule himself to come out to our job and finish it all in one fell swoop -- he had two days left of work to do for us, shouldn't he be at our house two days in a row? No. Apparently we're not important enough to just finish all at once or something -- his modus operandi seems to be to skip from job to job to job, doing a bit on each one. Which, let's be honest, is probably why he seems to have so many scheduling problems. Whatever. He told Don that he'll "check his calendar" -- which for some godforsaken reason he is incapable of carrying with him, the reason we've had so many "I'll call you back!" conversations -- and let us know when he can come out to finish. He predicted that it would Tuesday or Wednesday. Feel free to place bets.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

totally unrelated

I don't know if anyone's looking for a house in Bedford, PA, but this place is just screaming for a houseblogger.

(Never you mind why I'm looking at houses in strange places.)

Monday, October 08, 2007

the curse strikes again

HVAC guy was supposed to be at our house at 7 AM this morning. He called at 7:20 from his basement. His water heater's broken.

We're rescheduled for Wednesday at 7 AM. Cross your fingers.

Friday, October 05, 2007

a recipe for you, from my mom

My mom is pretty awesome, guys. I mean, awesome in general, but also specifically awesome. A few days ago I emailed her this recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, with a note that mentioned that it was full of things that His Pickiness Don doesn't eat (i.e. vegetables) but hey, didn't it look awesome. This is the email I got back late last night.

From: mommy@mommy.com
To: jamaila@thisisntmyemailaddress.com
Subj: food glorious food

I am slowly feeling better. Two nights ago when I was really sick I made banana chocolate chip muffins, which are, of course, known throughout the realm for their curative powers. They are also low fat - although not if you eat three of them before falling into a feverish stupor.

Tonight I took the stuffed pepper recipe you linked to and improvised. I stuffed grilled eggplant slices, but I bet the recipe would work fine in the peppers. [Sister] came over to eat them, and she is going to make them, but maybe chop the grilled eggplant and hide it in the couscous for taking to work potluck. They're a meat and potatoes group at [sister's workplace]. Of course, the filling no longer really resembles the stuffed pepper recipe - but it is sublime:


1 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2/3 cup couscous
2 long carrots
1/2 large onion
1/2 yellow pepper (or other color)
cooking spray (preferably olive oil)
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios (crushed)
1/2 cup raisins, preferably golden
4 oz goat cheese

pour 1.25 cups boiling vegetable or chicken broth over 2/3 cup couscous, cover (I made the couscous in the bowl I was going to mix it in and covered it with a plate.)

grate 2 long carrots, 1/2 large onion, and 1/2 a yellow (or probably any color) pepper. Spray a large frying pan with olive oil spray and heat over a medium heat. Add carrot mixture and cook 10 - 15 minutes stirring frequently or until vegetables are soft. Sprinkle 1 tsp marjoram and 1/2 tsp salt over the vegetable mix and stir in.

Add the vegetable mix to the couscous. Add 1/2 cup shelled unsalted crushed pistachios, 1/2 cup raisins (I'd prefer golden raisins, but I didn't have them), and 4 oz crumbled goat cheese. Mix together well.

Stuff whatever you are going to stuff. We stuffed the grilled eggplant rolls (10 of them) and still had half the couscous mix left - but I think maybe peppers are bigger. We baked the rolls for 20 minutes at 350 in a covered cooking spray greased pan - really just to heat them. The peppers could be baked however peppers are baked. If you just made it as pilaf, you could bake it covered for 10 miniutes or so - or it might be hot enough right after mixing. We dawdled a lot.

There should be no alien vegetables in this that Don doesn't like.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

is there something smaller than baby steps?

The HVAC guy is scheduled to come out next week to finish up, after much stalling and failing to call back and various other delaying tactics. We'll see if he shows up. I have a strong suspicion that our curse has struck again -- our last phone call appeared to catch him in a hospital. But it's not ALL the curse.

Don is trying to convince his dad to come over this weekend to get fill dirt and fill in the giant hole in our backyard where the pool was. I don't know if it'll happen or not; I think his dad wants to get a bed liner for his truck before he starts hauling any dirt around. And I KNOW he'd rather have Don get some burly youths over to help with the shoveling (like that'll happen). So we'll see.

Not a great deal going on otherwise; the depressing trend of mouthing platitudes to each other and others about how the house'll be awesome when it's done, and how we'll be living in luxury "soon" continues. There is no definition of "soon" that actually matches when this disaster will be over with, of course.

Oh, and the cat caught a gigantic bug in one of the upstairs bedrooms last night. And meowed pathetically until I came and inspected it before she killed it. That was fun.

Monday, October 01, 2007

oh, O's...

We went to the last Orioles game of the season on Sunday. The boys in orange, as usual, lost spectacularly to the Yankees. The Ravens lost, too -- Camden Yards knows its crowd and made sure to put the NFL scores up on the jumbotron, so we could all mutter dispiritedly as we saw Jamal's new team beating our other birds as sorely as the Yanks were beating the O's. Alas.

On the plus side, it was perfect baseball weather and a gorgeous day, so it was nice to be outside. And the Orioles are a fantastic community ball club even if their outfielders dropped the ball THREE TIMES. Before all of the games, there are a lot of kid and family-oriented activities, including cute ceremonies where kids get to go out on the field for the national anthem, or get to receive players' jerseys, or be shown on the jumbotron, or what have you. The club has maintained a very honest community feel at the games, which is really nice. Definitely the sort of thing you take your kids to (although Don is already plotting the best way to teach them to sprint 90 yards in the time it takes to throw a fastball -- he takes things a little further than I do).

So, a nice afternoon spent at Camden Yards. And no, we didn't buy any six dollar beers. (Six. Dollars. For Coors Lite! Good lord.)

Afterwards, I had a chance to chat with my mom for a while, and she mentioned that a house down the street from hers is for sale. I know the house; it belongs to a family friend who was a teacher of mine at one point. I used to occasionally goat-sit for them when they were on vacation (yes, they had goats -- cute ones!). Apparently they're moving, so the house and land are up for sale. The price they've got it listed for is decent; it makes me wonder what my mom's house will sell for, if she ever sells.

Now that Don is officially employed again (or at least soon-to-be -- he starts in the middle of the month), we're tentatively making plans to move forward with the house. Much depends on timing. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

news of note

Don got a job; he starts work on October 15th in a development position with one of the Big Two -- a major defense contractor. It's full time, so it puts our original plan into total disarray. But we're used to that sort of thing by now. So the money situation will be mostly resolved in about a month, when he starts getting his paychecks.

The Anapurna Girls will be at the Darkover convention over Thanksgiving weekend; if you haven't made plans and are interested in fantasy and science fiction, consider going. And, you know, buying stuff from us.

The HVAC is still not done. The guy came on Friday and spent some time downstairs doing SOMETHING, although I'm not sure what, since nothing appears to have changed. We thought he was supposed to come back Monday; needless to say, he didn't. We finally got hold of him yesterday and he said he'd call us back today. Sure thing. [For those counting, we started this whole nonsense on JULY NINTH. This has been THREE WHOLE MONTHS of nonsense for a job that should have taken a week.]

The holidays are coming up, and with them a slew of family visits. Don's whole family lives relatively nearby -- the furthest away is his brother in Norfolk -- but mine is strewn about all over the country. So getting to see them is often a treat. My father and grandparents will be coming down from New Jersey the weekend before Thanksgiving; my mother will be flying out from Washington for Thanksgiving proper; and my sister is coming to visit for a whole week in December. Very exciting!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

in which our collection of backyard animals grows

We ran out to get some food last night -- McDonald's, if you must know -- and pulled back into our driveway to discover a VERY LARGE ROTTWEILER and his equally large ferocious looking friend wandering happily around in our yard. The rottweiler had a collar; the other dog didn't. I think Don almost had a heart attack when they showed up in the headlights as he pulled into the driveway. We have no idea where they came from; they must be neighborhood dogs, as they certainly looked domesticated and well-fed. They trotted around in the yard for a while wagging their tails and looking for somebody to REND THE FLESH FROM, and then headed out down the driveway while we sat quivering in the car. [Don called his dad, who recommended that we a) throw hamburgers at them and run for the door or b) sacrifice whoever was in the passenger seat. We chose to wait them out, instead.]

Hilariously, one of the damned cats who normally inhabit our yard peeked out from behind the shed while the dogs were wandering around. It looked annoyed at the intruders, who were presumably keeping it from performing its usual ritual of sleeping on top of Don's car and leading him on fruitless chases around the dumpster.

Fortunately, the dogs didn't stick around or notice that there were food-like smells coming from the car, but it was a moderately terrifying ten minutes to be trapped in our own driveway. Don spent the rest of the evening muttering about fences; I think he's planning on turning the entire property into a gated estate now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

false hope

I say this every single year. Autumn in Baltimore almost makes up for summer, winter, and spring in Baltimore. Normally I say it a lot later, though. We've been having a bout of unseasonably awesome weather lately; crisp air, perfect breezes, blue skies. It's all excessively autumnal and wonderful, but it's NOT REAL. Autumn here doesn't really start until like mid-October. The trees are all still vibrantly green, which is a little jarring when you feel like you ought to break out your (very stylish and sexy) autumn jacket and the close-toed shoes. This particular wave of weather is expected to end next week, and we'll go back to unpleasant warmth again, which is why we haven't yet taken the window air conditioners out and flung open the windows so that the cat can enjoy her autumn tradition of staring menacingly out at The Outside World, how dare it exist without her.

The HVAC guy is officially scheduled to come out and finish the first floor on Friday. Let's hope this doesn't prove to be as fleeting as the weather.

Also providing a measure of false hope: Don has a job interview on Thursday. But it's for a job which is a) full-time, not what we were expecting and b) kind of far away, practically on the south side of DC, which is a commute we were hoping to avoid. He'll find out at the interview whether the pros really outweigh the cons well enough for him to take the job.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

things of note

There was a water main break on our street this weekend. We got up late Sunday morning and discovered that none of the water in the house was working. After a flurry of "did you pay the water bill" "of course I paid the water bill" "are you sure you paid the water bill" "dammit I paid the water bill"-type conversation, we called the number on our water bill to find out what was going on and were told that not only was there a water main break, it was specifically on our street. That would be the problem, then.

Fortunately we were heading over to Don's sister's house for the afternoon, so no lack-of-bathroom-related disasters could happen. (Don't worry, Tina, we don't just love you for your functioning bathrooms. [The pool is pretty nice, too.])

The water was, of course, eventually fixed. Not much else going on -- I've been really busy getting ready for Anapurna's show on Saturday, and Don is gearing up for rush week, so we mostly just exchange harried glances and add things to each other's to-do lists these days. Things will be a little more calm next week, and calmer still after the end of the month when I've turned in the project I'm working on for work. But autumn tends to be the busy season for me, no matter what I'm doing. At least the weather is improving!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

this blog is about to go downhill

Don is going to go to school full-time. If all goes well and the University is accomodating enough to actually offer the courses he needs, he ought to be able to finish in two semesters. It's a lot faster than working full time and having to sift through the night classes, hoping that what he needs is available at the right time, which is what has taken him so long to get to this point. Once he's got the degree(s), he'll be infinitely more hireable. In the meantime, we're looking for a part-time job for him in something like bookkeeping, to make up the small shortage in money and to keep his hand in the financial field (if any of you local types know of anything like that, let me know).

This means that the house is pretty much going to be on hold. Once the HVAC on the first floor is finished (as it should have been TWO MONTHS AGO), we'll move downstairs. For the duration, it'll be like living in an apartment, kind of. We may occasionally venture upstairs in our free time and work on pulling down paneling and plaster -- we won't be able to afford to do anything else with our free time, after all -- but in general, nothing is going to get done on the house. Which means, of course, that there won't be much to write about here. I'll write, but you should probably consider Ancestral Pile on hiatus for a while.

If you're desperate to pay attention to me (um, probably just my mom then), you can head over to my revamped LiveJournal, which is currently serving to chronicle my trials and tribulations as I attempt to write fiction and apply for a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University (also kind of on hold until Don finishes school, but in the downtime I'm teaching myself to write, it's fun and exciting).

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I have a cold. Nothing I have to write about right now feels more important than the prospect of going home, drinking a glass of orange juice (oh, Simply Orange, how I love thee), and going to bed.

For what it's worth, though -- know how one of those standard 'what if' questions is always 'what superpower would you most want to have?' Forget super strength and flying. I'd be a home-improvement version of Aquaman. Able to summon contractors and vendors and loan specialists just by going "OOOOOOOOOO".

Also, all that undersea treasure would probably come in handy paying off my roof loan.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

we still love you, window people

Our window order is officially on hold. Because the window guys will be doing a bunch of framing when they put in the windows (both because some are bay windows and because several windows are getting moved around), they need us to have all of the appropriate walls laid bare. Unfortunately, this STILL can't happen without the HVAC being finished so we can move downstairs and gut the upstairs. So Don told the window people to go ahead and put the whole thing on hold until we get the stupid HVAC finished, whenever that is. I think HVAC guy is supposed to call today or tomorrow to let us know when he can come out and finish.

On the plus side, that's one bill we won't have to start paying for a while, which is a good thing since Don is still unemployed. Anyone have any jobs?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

happy birthday to me

I'm officially twenty-five today.

Monday, August 27, 2007

home again

I don't think any of us really felt like leaving the beach. I think in the day and a half we've been back I've probably said to Don, "Hey... let's go back to the beach now!" at least two dozen times. He's agreed with me every time.

Photo is, as usual, courtesy of Lindley, because I barely took any. You can check out my very limited set of photos -- mostly of the house we stayed in, typically enough -- here, and her much more exciting set -- including some awesome night photography on the beach -- here.

I got a tan, but you can barely see it because of all the freckles I also got. Sigh. We came back in the middle of a somewhat horrifying severe thunderstorm -- I think my knuckles are probably still white from the grip I had on the steering wheel from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore. The power was out when we got home, which was a lovely welcome. If it hadn't been raining and blowing so hard I was afraid the car would be blown right off the road, I might have just turned around and headed back to North Carolina. A full week in a house that was actually finished, with real walls and windows and doors and paint and furniture! Seriously! Furniture! was so incredibly relaxing. Next year we're going for two weeks. And we've seriously considered sneaking away for another week in October. Off season is cheap!

But now it's back to the grind. Time to call the HVAC guy and find out if he's recovered from Installation Guy's disappearance and if he's going to come out and finish our vents anytime soon. Time to call the window people and find out if our financing has gone through and when they might be starting. Time to start pondering schedules, and money, and priority lists. Time to worry about Don's employment, about school costs and scheduling, about family, about money, money, money.

Let's go back to the beach now.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

for your shopping pleasure

It's officially time for you people to start shopping for my birthday. Seriously. August 28th, people! Wanna see my wishlist? Shop away.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

i have made weirder requests

Does anybody have a wooden coat rack they're willing to part with? I need one that's not particularly heavy, and it's got to be wood or something else cuttable, since I really only need the top half.

Doesn't it sound like I'm preparing to do something really strange? Actually I need it to display handbags at craft shows; my mom makes these fabulous handbags and we'll be selling them along with our jewelry and accessories at several craft shows this season (I've added them to the calendar on the website, check it out). So I'm looking for something to hang them from, and a coat rack seems like the best option. Anyway. Let me know if you have one.

Nothing is going on with the house; we're waiting for HVAC Boss Guy to call and let us know when he can come out and finish up. Don's changing the locks this week, as No-Longer-Installation Guy still had our keys when he up and quit. I'm trying to use up all the stuff in the fridge before we leave for the beach without going to the grocery store, which may result in us eating peanut butter and pickle sandwiches or something later in the week.

Monday, August 13, 2007

true dork confessions

Do not call me on Friday night. I won't answer. I won't be on the computer, I won't be available to anyone. Why? Because I'm going to be glued to my television, watching HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2! I'm so freaking excited.

You can start making fun of me now if you'd like.

(I'm also excited about the new episode of Hannah Montana that's going to be on after the movie. She's performing with the Jonas Brothers! God, I'm a dork.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

a little more coherent

Thank you all for your positive comments to my slightly hysterical post yesterday! Seriously, people were coming out of the woodwork (I'm looking at you, zenchick). Anyway, here's what happened:

When we found out on Tuesday that Installation Guy had quit (which reminds me, we need to change the locks, he still has a key), Sales Guy said he'd come out yesterday to assess what needed to be done. Once he'd seen how much was left to do, he'd be able to schedule a time to come out and finish. This was totally fine with us -- we know the situation IG's actions have left poor Sales Guy in, and it's not a pleasant thing.

So he comes out in the afternoon, looks around, and says, "It's pretty awful in here. Let's see if we can at least get the air conditioner turned on."


(If you could pronounce exclamation points, I would have at that point.)

So he banged a few things, fiddled around in the basement for a while, and lo! The air conditioner was turned on! The job's not done, mind you -- ducts still need to be run to the kitchen and bathroom, and one or two vents in the living room aren't hooked up, and one of the returns isn't installed yet, but most of the vents on the first floor are in fact blowing cold air. He'll come back as soon as he can to finish up the ductwork, but in the meantime we have blessed, blessed air.

It's not really cooling the house down, since there's no insulation right now and no walls to separate the rooms, but it's performed a huge service by getting rid of the swamplike humidity on the first floor, which has already made our lives SO MUCH BETTER. The cat, last I saw her, was sprawled happily on the living room floor, enjoying the change. I may join her.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007



Tuesday, August 07, 2007

good lord

Installation Guy apparently quit on Thursday. Just stopped going to work. Didn't call, didn't do anything. He didn't attend the meeting he was supposed to be at yesterday, and Sales Guy finally figured it out. Don just heard from Sales Guy, who is now apparently frantic, baffled, frustrated, and probably swearing a lot. He said he'd come out tomorrow and see what stage our project was at and schedule a time to come finish it up.

Part of the reason we do so much stuff ourselves? We have the WORST LUCK EVER with house-related people (ask our last insurance agent about her broken leg sometime, and our mortgage guy about his surgery, and the home inspector about his wife's serious illness, and you could ask our first realtor about anything you like but she probably won't answer because she is DEAD).

in the TMI department

Yeast infections: really crappy.

Yeast infections in this weather:

Much worse.

Monday, August 06, 2007

back to stress

I have no updates today. My "stress-free" weekend has kind of accomplished the opposite -- since I purposefully didn't get anything done, now there's an even larger mountain of stuff for me to do today than usual. Sigh.

HVAC Installation Guy apparently has some kind of meeting to attend today about a commercial installation, and has promised to come finish up at our house after the meeting. In other words, as I said at dinner last night, we're probably not going to have air conditioning today.

I feel like this blog has gotten awfully boring. This whole HVAC thing is just consuming my life; we've wasted like an entire month on this crap. A month we had planned to spend moving forward on the house and getting a lot done. Ugh! Hopefully our lives will start getting interesting again soon. In a good way, not in an ancient-Chinese-curse way.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Hours of sleep: 10
Episodes of Barefoot Contessa watched: 1
Pints of chocolate ice cream consumed: 1
Reservations made for Sascha's tomorrow night: 1, table for 2

Relaxation: getting there.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

mandatory relaxation

Don's dad is downstairs working on hooking up the last of the wiring for the HVAC. Installation Guy is set to come out and finish up on Monday -- but I don't care. I'm not worrying about it.

I'm under boss's orders to take a "stress-free" day off tomorrow -- he told me I'm not even allowed to check my work email (not so easy -- I'm a total email junkie). I'm not to work on Anapurna stuff either, says "boss" Lindley (unless it's totally stress free, that is).

So I went to the grocery store, got a pint of Haagen-Daz chocolate ice cream (full fat, even), and then came home and put together a huge bowl of pasta salad, an equally large bowl of pickled eggs, and a bunch of cut up vegetables with dip. Tomorrow, I'm going to stay in bed until noon, and then stay in bed some more and watch my favorite Food Network shows (I'm a huge Barefoot Contessa fan). I'm going to snack on food that's already made, that I don't have to worry about -- and that's cold. I might play some video games; I might not. I'm not going to leave the air-conditioned rooms upstairs. I'm not going to correspond with anybody, I'm not going to answer the phone, I'm not going to talk to anybody but the cat and maybe Don. Total shutdown, here I come.

And, in case you're curious --

Pickled Eggs

2 jars pickled beets
4-6 hard-boiled eggs

Empty the jars of beets into a big bowl (juice included). Peel the eggs and nestle them down into the beet juice. Add a little water if the eggs aren't submerged; try to get the beets to spread out and cover them some too. Refridgerate at least overnight; the longer they soak, the better they get. You may have to add a little vinegar later if they aren't sour enough for you.

Recipe courtesy of the lovely inhabitants of Chez Brinkley, ten blocks over. It's infinitely expandable. The bigger your bowl, the more you can make. Just add another jar of beets!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

mmm restaurants

How about something that has nothing to do with my total meltdown whatsoever?

It's Baltimore's Restaurant Week this week. A whole bunch of really nice restaurants where it normally costs like a hundred bucks a head for dinner are offering a prix fixe menu for $30.07 a head. You can do lunch for $20.07, same principle. Go to the website here and check out all of the menus. I don't think we can afford to go this year, but I still like to drool over the menus. Plus, you can live vicariously through the Baltimore Snacker as he makes his way through Restaurant Week. That's always good.

DC's Restaurant Week is next week, and my favorite tapas restaurant, Jaleo, has a fantastic deal. Check that out, too, if you're down that way. I'll be up here, drooling.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

this is not a happy post

Do you ever feel like you're digging in your nails trying to keep from being dragged backwards into a swirling vortex of unpleasantness but it's not doing any good and all you're doing is making giant scratches in the floor that you're going to have to fix later?

That's kind of how I feel.

Incidentally, I was right -- no Installation Guy yesterday. Don says his dad is coming over on Thursday to help with the wiring and we'll call after that. It's supposed to be in the 90s this week, with the usual high humidity.

I tried to clean the bathtub today, in a fit of morality and cleanliness. It wouldn't drain, and I managed to make it dirtier. Sitting on the bathroom floor in my underwear and trying not to cry hysterically because of a stupid bathtub made me think that perhaps, just a little, I'm overwhelmed.

We have money issues, contractor issues, family issues, relationship issues, job issues, and probably issue issues. I just want to go stay someplace where bathtubs and sinks and various mechanical devices all work, and where I don't have to wear shoes because there are nails everywhere, and where the temperature is the same in the entire house, and where there aren't piles of tools blocking doorways, and where there isn't always something waiting for me to do or finish.

Probably a pipe dream. A clogged bathtub pipe dream.