Friday, June 27, 2014

Slight Intermission

John is at home today with our Eagle Scout friend installing (well, re-installing) the ceiling fans the sellers left us. Our air conditioned passed its inspection and test by AJ Perri with flying colors, but we are learning that our ductwork is just not up to the task of moving air upstairs. It was a good 10 degrees colder up there all winter (you could feel the change in climate about halfway up the stairs!), and it's definitely warmer and stuffier up there in this warmer summer(ish) weather we've been having.

The sellers had to remove the three ceiling fans in the bedrooms upstairs because they failed the inspection--apparently they were all at the ideal chopping height for children jumping on beds. Even after pointing out we are two adults with no children, they had to go. So the sellers removed them and installed a few simple stock flush-mounted lights, but they did leave us the fans. Which will now hopefully help to control the climate up there a bit better.

Only 2 have light kits, though, so one room will now need a floor lamp and some task lighting. We're thinking that since guests won't have muscle memory enough to walk through the darkened guest room and make it to the bedside lamp, it's pretty important to have overhead lighting controlled by a switch at the door. Likewise, I like having garish overhead lighting in the master bedroom cuz it's easier when putting away laundry (matching socks!), or test-driving outfits after the sun goes down (which is rather early in the colder months). This probably means the office will get the light-less fan, and we'll have to pick up a floor lamp and a desk lamp for me (John has one). Which is fine. It's very bright in there thanks to the window (which we can't open cuz the crank handle is missing...been on the we-should-fix-that list since move-in...sigh), and with all the extended daylight hours in the summer, lamps can definitely wait.

So in addition to the fans, I've picked up a few very small items I've swapped out around the house, namely a new lamp shade in the living room, a new bedside lamp for me, and a trio or small mirrors in the upstairs hallway that I hope will bounce around light and make it seem a bit brighter up there. Oh, and a sweet new outside doormat for the deck. So all in all small spruces, but big improvements. I'll throw together some photos and do a post later on including the fans.

Larger projects coming soon will be painting the kitchen and laundry room and maybe the upstairs hallway, once we figure out how to tackle the enormous vault over the stairs. My dad is 6'8"...I'm thinking we'll have to call him in for reinforcements. Then I am DYING to finish off the guest room. It functions, but sort of feels hyper-neglected since the rest of the house has come together. I think we've finally settled on a paint color, and that has helped me figure out what direction to take with some of the decorative accents. It's feeling pretty stark in there now, and is kind of the wah-wah on the house tour. haha

BUT I've rambled on. The real intermission I wanted to take was to say I am now officially 4 months away from my 10-miler race, and I am 40% excited and 60% terrified. I am beginning to amp up my mileage and work on new pacing and endurance goals. I've got to add in some energy gels on training runs in a few weeks when I eek up from 5 miles as my long run to 7 miles, and then so on and so on.

I'm getting to the point where 5 miles feels like a comfortable challenge. I have worked out a good walk-run pattern so I can sustain the miles without feeling like death after the 5K mark. This means I can translate that into longer distances. I'm also pretty happy with my timing--covering 5 miles in just about 55 minutes, meaning I'm basically at exactly the halfway point: I'm running half the race distance in just about half of my goal race time. Sometimes when I'm out there, I feel awesome and empowered. Others I'm like, "What the hell was I thinking? I hate myself." But I just keep on running, and even after a total shit run, I'm glad I did it. Cuz a crappy run is better than none at all. Most of the time

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fun New Kitchen Accessory

I came across something in Kitchen Kapers like a year ago and have been wishy washy about it since then. Then recently, in all places, the proverbial light bulb went off while I was in Starbucks one morning getting coffee.

The item was this little ceramic base that you can use to hold any plate and turn it into a cake stand! While I was on line in Starbucks, someone ahead of me bought the last croissant or whatever, and the barista lifted up the empty plate, and there waiting underneath it was a base like the one linked above. At that moment, like angelsong, I was like, "I NEED THAT IN MY LIFE!" I have a vintage-style glass domed cake stand and a pretty, ceramic floral one from my mom, but this would let me use any one of the plates I already own--so I'd get a huge number of looks plus I'd be adding a third raised food server to my collection, which is always good when trying to preserve table space for, you know, eating.

So with this one basic, neutral piece, I quickly mocked up a few different looks:

Even our everyday Fiestaware plates look elegant when elevated.

And as if I didn't already have a problem with accumulating dishes, I now see a realm for lovely bowls...someone help me. Seriously.

This will be the most beautiful guacamole server in the land!
 From my kitchen to yours, good night! (That reminds me...I've got a corn bread to bake.)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Some Random Sprucing Around the Cottage on a Beautiful Saturday

Soon, we'll be off to my parents' house (which has also been spruced with a new roof, some new paint in their living room, and some patching on the ceilings where the old roof had been leaking) to celebrate Father's Day with a backyard BBQ.

But I wanted to quickly share some of the work we did around the house yesterday. I started off with an early-morning run while John mowed the front and back lawns. We have this really cute push mower since both of our yards are so small. Once we had both showered and eaten a good breakfast, we headed up to Lowe's to get some colorful annuals for the front garden beds. John picked up a few other items for projects and then we rounded out the trip with 4 tiki torches for the back yard.

As soon as we got home, I grabbed my garden gear and got to diggin'! It's pretty modest right now, but I hope things will fill in soon. I also don't want to go too nuts too soon (as much as I want the perfectly grown/overgrown garden, I'm sadly aware that that takes time and So I put in some impatiens in the garden bed under the front bay window, and by the mailbox planter, I put in some celosia, which I've always wanted to plant! It looks like a little gnome hat or like a wishnick's (troll doll's) hair. To add some vertical interest, I also planted three sections of angelonia. The garden bed by the mailbox, like the two around our two dogwoods, has a circular perimeter filled with vinca vines. The trees' vinca are flourishing--nice and voluminous. The vinca around the mailbox...not so much. It was looking a little wimpy. So I'm hoping with the added color that area will now look a bit punched up. I also weeded the bejesus out of the crack where our curd meets the street and grabbed a bunch of the weeds sprouting up in our gravel driveway. I left some of the more "charming" ones--some clover, etc.--but grabbed the big old ones that were getting tall.

As for later plans...I will put in 1 or 2 hydrangea bushes under the front bay window (will probably buy them soon and container them until I can plant them come fall). And in the backyard...ugh, this will be WORK. I'll have to carve out a defined garden bed along the back fence. Then the current plan is a peony bush in the center, flanked by a hydrangea on either side, and finally a rose bush at either corner. Still fine-tuning that, but again it looks like most of those are fall plantings so I can container them if that's the route I decide to go and then put them in the ground when the weather cools. A nice way to mark one year in the house, methinks. I'll keep you posted about developments there. For now, here are some shots of progress in the front:

With previously transplanted irises and before weeding.

After adding impatiens and after weeding--now you can see the border!
Sad-looking and both ill-filled in with vinca and overgrown with random grass.

After! Cleaned up, weeded out, and colored up.


My other projects yesterday were both very quick.

First, I have been loathing the blue-painted threshold in our kitchen since day 1. It strikes me as odd that the sellers either painted it that way themsleves or never addressed it from the sellers they inherited it from. Their aesthetic was very modern, and this, combined with the floral laminate floor reads decidedly country--and not cute French cottage country or farmhouse country, I'm talking honky Americana country, which is my least favorite look of all. Anyway, we had some white paint left by the sellers, so I grabbed the can, and slapped it over the blue paint and badda bing: happiness every time I walk by. awful!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh my gosh, 100% better!
It's not a huge change, but it's enough that I stop and stare at it.

Yes. So fresh and so clean!
The other was a doorknob switcharoo on the bathroom door. That door has been begging for a vintage crystal knob, but man...that ish is expensive! So while at Lowe's yesterday, we wandered by an aisle and looking right at me was a glass knob that looked like the more expensive crystal ones. I'm talking this one was $9 and the others are usually $100 or more. Sold.

Here's the door before, closed and viewed from the laundry room.

Close-up...snoooorrreeee! And also, ew.

After--looking sharp!

Look at that swagger. Get down with your bad self, door!
Two remaining issues: one, you can see there's no screw in the hole there--we have to drill pilot holes before we can fasten the little rosette plate. But since the knob is holding them on rather tightly, we're less worried about this in the short-term. If they start to loosen or slip, we'll address it then. And these knobs are exactly the same on both sides: as in no lock. But, again, we're less concerned about this in the short term. The door itself does not actually shut very well thanks to crooked seams from the house settling. So even though our old doorknob had a lock, it didn't really function anyway because of how the door closes. The real fix will be to put in an entirely new door, and we'd want to flip it--currently, the door opens so that the light switch is behind where the door swings in. Not a huge issue, but certainly inconvenient, especially for guests who aren't familiar with our dear Cottage's quirks, or when we need to get in there when it's pitch black. But for now, we're both very happy with the little facelift.

Saturday was a day of curb appeal and mini nips and tucks. And we love all of them.

Until next time, happy Father's Day to everyone, especially my amazing Dad, whom I'm always grateful for when I have another "Oh my gosh, I'm turning into my father" moment. Yes, we are very different people. But when it comes down to the core of it all, I'm very glad to have the foundation I have thanks to him.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I've got nothing by means of a title

I really wish I could just accept myself as I am, and stop comparing myself to others. Rather, I wish I could accept the not-so-great parts of myself as part of a whole that I hope is, for the most part, good.

I am selfish. I am often impatient. I like to be the center of attention. Being thanked is important to me. Material displays of thanks are gratifying. When I do a good deed, I often draw attention to it--or worse, I brag about it.

These are not some my best qualities, and the worst part is that it's sort of like being aware you are about to have a seizure: you know it's going to happen, but you're powerless to stop it. I am very much aware of every time I am displaying one of these qualities, and I sufficiently hate myself during and for a long to after they have happened. Yet I cannot find the switch inside myself to turn them off and reroute that energy somewhere more positive.

A friend says there's a thing called "the happy pessimist." I like to think that describes me. I am not Little Miss Sunshine. Things that come very naturally to some in my life, I can barely half accomplish when I put in all my efforts. I know I will never have the easy can-do attitude, nor the energy to give 125% at my job like most of my coworkers. And instead of looking at the 100% I do give and feeling good about it, I just feel like a massive piece of shit, and a general failure as a human being.

I've just come off the most taxing and unforgiving week of work, and I'm trying to remember to be kind to myself, to acknowledge the hard work I put in, to remember my job is different than my colleagues' jobs, and that because of my efforts, that very difficult week went as smoothly as anyone could hope, and in many cases, if not for me, the whole thing would have fallen apart. I know that I am an important part of a very hardworking team of workers. But I also cannot shake the feeling of being the bottom of the totem pole, and at the bottom, it's hard for those above me with more and worse responsibilities to sympathize with my little woes. I've retreated inside my own self these last few days because I know any complaints I have about being tired, or stressed, will kind of be met with an eyeroll and a "poor you" from those who have been pulling even worse schedules that I have lately. It's terrible, but this time of year, no one really cares about anyone else's troubles. Which is the worst because we're all in need of some support, but very few of us have any fuel left in the tank to give support away.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with all of this. It's just a bad morning, and I wanted to vomit some of this out there into the void. Since no one pays attention to this blog anyway (except you, Mom--hi), I figure it's an okay space.