Mystery Flowers

November 28, 2007

Despite persistent cold and rain for the last few weeks, we seem to have a little patch of flowers growing in amidst the mushrooms by the front walk!


The visible roots and green sprouts look like irises (though why they’d be growing in November is a puzzle), but I haven’t a clue what that little mystery flower is. The red is so pretty. The entire plant is about 3” across and it seems to have appeared just in the last week.

Any ideas??


Family Room

Kevin somehow convinced Shawn to help him hang the drywall in the family room, and now we not only have walls all the way around (woot!!), but the rooms’ a step closer to complete.

To summarize the process, Kevin ripped down the ugly, ugly wood paneling in that room on about day two. Once it became clear that the drywall didn’t cover ANY insulation on the lower half of the wall, he ripped down the drywall too.

(I’m still a bit mystified how the old owners lived in this house without freezing. When the furnace is on, it’s a bit too hot for comfort, but the heat just vanishes as soon as the thing turns off, and I spent most of my evenings in hats. I suspect that if you had some sort of infrared scanner, it would illuminate a neat pillar of extremely hot air rising out of our roof every 40 min or so. There’s a saying that a boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into – until we get the new insulation installed in the roof and crawlspace, I feel like our roof is the comparable hole in the sky.)

So, Kevin put up a new foam moister barrier over the exposed foundation...

... and then packs of fiberglass insulation.

You don’t generally say that the insulation looks "pretty", but the new bottom row in the bump out at least looks neat and well installed. :-)

Once those steps were done, then Shawn and Kevin measured and cut drywall, and got all of the walls up in an evening. I was impressed both at the speed and at how nice it looks. Both of them were chagrined by how unfailingly non-standard the walls were. Drywall comes in 4’ widths, and 8’, 12’, and 16’ lengths, all of which were always a touch too long or too short.

The next step will be to put up a second layer of drywall and green glue adhesive on our long wall – the goal is to dampen sound more so that the XBox won’t be quite so audible from the master bedroom and the rest of the house.

(You'll have to excuse the mess. Until the remainder of the drywall is up off the floor, we’re sort of helpless to fix it. Someday, someday...)

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Week Twelve

November 27, 2007

Rock on: an 88-38 win over Josh, who’s tied for second in our league. I was lucky, since he played -1 point Roethlisberger instead of 20-pt Carson Palmer, and left a 17 point running back on his bench. Regardless, though, my team did well, with Brees still trying to make up for the first half of the season, and quite a few decent RB and WR performances.

Next week is the last week of the season, and with this win, I’m in a three-way tie for 5th place. The top six teams make the playoffs, so I have to beat my matchup (who, as luck would have it, is #1 in the league), and at least one of these other two have to lose for me to make it. Fingers crossed!

QB Drew Brees, NO 26
RB LaDainian Tomlinson, SD 11
RB Marion Barber, Dal 18
WR Deion Branch, Sea 15
WR Donte' Stallworth, NE 5
TE L.J. Smith, Phi 4
D/ST Patriots 7
K Matt Stover, Bal 2
QB Jason Campbell, Was 9
RB Ron Dayne, Hou 7
WR Reggie Brown, Phi 10
WR Muhsin Muhammad, Chi 2
WR Nate Burleson, Sea 0
WR Drew Bennett, StL 3
TE Alex Smith, TB 4
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE 6


Clever guy!

I’ve been writing these posts with a wired connection for the first time in our new house, thanks to Kevin’s Sunday evening project of wiring the bedrooms for internet!

Luckily, he’s braver about the crawl space than I am, since he spent a few hours down there drilling holes and pulling wires from my bedroom to the utility closet which now holds all of our internet switching. Here he is, emerging victorious (a better photo than my new pretty 4-connection ethernet jack):


More painting

November 26, 2007

I went to town on the master bedroom walls on Sunday. They’ve been patched, spackled, retextured and taped for a few weeks, so it was starting to feel like a hopelessly overdue project. Pictures will be delayed though, since once ½ the room was painted, it became clear that the other half would need to be as well. So, hopefully by the end of the weekend we’ll have pretty shots of another finished room?
I used the remainder of the primer I’d poured out to start attacking the blue walls in the family room. Took longer than it was expecting, but even the ugly, flat primer is such an improvement!

(This has been an unusually slow post to write. Kevin’s working on digging through the stacks and piles of things in his room, and keeps barging in to declare that he’s “throwing away this textbook!!” open to a page of proofs about inverse fourier transforms, or do I “want the unix 5th edition source code?” The worst part is that, typical us, these intrusions keep leading to long conversations about the complexity of Perl vs. Ruby, or the validity of what FakeSteve has to say about Google, and before you know it, another half hour has disappeared.)


Vacation Roundup

November 24, 2007

We’re back from a wonderful week-long Thanksgiving trip to Boston and New York, but somehow managed to take almost no photos. Oops?

In New York, we saw a fun group of my college friends (including one couple with their two week old baby!!), and a slew of Kevin’s college friends. Most people have been living their for at least as long as we’ve been in Washington, and it’s so fun to see the lives that they’re settled into. New York still isn’t my kettle of tea, but I bought a map this time with all the subways and neighbourhoods marked, so I at least felt competent. We also got to see my brother for a few hours during the afternoon football game.

We took Amtrak up to Boston on Monday, which was so much more pleasant that flying. Once there, we stayed with my aunt and her family (the same place we stayed before the wedding) – which was wonderful as always. Again, I’m so disappointed I don’t have photos. We didn’t manage to see Larry before he had to leave for Thanksgiving, but I did go to the Thanksgiving service at St. Andrews with my mom and sister (a treat), and the standard group was at my aunt Carol’s for Thanksgiving Dinner, which was enjoyable as always. It’s just good to be home.

I managed to actually get a good bit of knitting done over the week – the Conwy sock from Knitting on the Road, in Trekking XXL, color #104.

We got to Seatac airport, and I realized that I’d left my needles on the hall table. So disappointing! Luckily we were staying just a few blocks from Purl in NYC, so I went over there first thing on Saturday. It was a fun store to see, but (like everything else in that city) so expensive!! Luckily the needles were way cheaper than the yarn.

I’m afraid that I may end up ripping out the socks and starting over. These needles (#0) are a great size for the yarn, but I’m a bit below gauge and the pattern has very little stretch. I’ll give it a week and see if the socks grow at all – otherwise I’ll frog them and cast on a few more repeats.

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Week Eleven

November 20, 2007

This week was a 72-78 loss to one of the two teams tied for second. I set my team before we left for New York, and then didn’t get to check scores all weekend, and so was spared from the agony of watching it all unfold. (Though you can bet that I wished I swapped which Smith played, or that I’d pulled Brees for Campbell...)

QB Drew Brees, NO 10
RB LaDainian Tomlinson, SD 21
RB Marion Barber, Dal 4
WR Deion Branch, Sea 3
WR Reggie Brown, Phi 4
TE L.J. Smith, Phi 4
D/ST Patriots 15
K Matt Stover, Bal 14
QB Jason Campbell, Was 18
QB Damon Huard, KC 0
WR Donte' Stallworth, NE 5
WR Muhsin Muhammad, Chi 7
WR Nate Burleson, Sea 6
WR Drew Bennett, StL 0
TE Alex Smith, TB 11
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE 8



November 14, 2007

I finally have pictures to post of my finished bedroom/office! Since the house has three bedrooms, Kevin and I each get our own room for the time being. Mine’s a smidge bigger, but we’re also using it as a guest room. When our parents or other family members come to visit, we’ve been giving them our bed and retreating to the futon or a mélange of couches. But now, since we have more space, it made sense to find a comfy daybed/trundle combination for the two of us.

In my mind’s eye, I’d been picturing a pretty, sturdy wood set like my parents had in New Hampshire, but they bought those almost a decade ago and either they were regional or no longer exist. After lots of wading through ugly, expensive options, both online and in stores, we decided to buy a Good Trading Company bed through a local wood furniture store (which, unfortunately, I can’t recommend. It’s been all delays, mistakes, and reorders.). The only catch was that in order to get matched head- and foot-boards (which seems to me to be a major style indicator of daybed as opposed to normal twin bed), we actually needed to buy bunk beds, since they don’t sell the components separately. It wasn’t too much more money than a twin bed, and it was way cheaper than custom furniture, so now we’re the (proud?) owners of two extra headboards and the accompanying connective pieces and hardware. The furniture turns out to be quite sturdy and lovely, and a decade or whenever from now, I’m sure we’ll be quite pleased not to have to buy any of this. Since it can either be constructed as bunk beds or two matching twin beds, they’ll certainly be used. And for now, the extra headboards, ladder, and parts can all just slumber in the garage.

So, on to pictures! Our mattresses were delivered in the first week, so here’s the room all blue-taped and with plastic down, ready for me to prime over the cartoon characters.

After two coats of primer, the disneyfication was blissfully removed. I was actually, surprisingly, a fan of the green, but the extra décor just didn’t suit me and it was amazing how soothing that coarse, flat, bright white was.

I painted the walls a light pink/mauve, which (three weeks later) continues to delight me when I walk in the room. The color is Behr’s Phantom Mist (720A-1) in a satin finish. The window faces north-east, and though there are two overhead lights, they’re currently the only illumination in the room. It’s relatively dark, and yet the new paint color seems to lighten things considerably. I also enjoy the contrast of the white baseboard, window and door trim with the pink. My room in middle school and high school had two pink walls, which I always loved, and this just seems like an improvement on the theme. It’s a pleasant room to be in.

Here are all of the day bed parts, unpacked and ready to be used. (We ordered two mattresses, but the trundle bed frame was ordered improperly and the correct pieces won’t show up until mid-December. Aggravating. Consider all of the bed pictures a work in progress.

Once everything was in place, here’s the view of the room from the door. The 11’7”x10’ space holds the new daybed, three bookshelves (a la Target), and my desk. I’ve been thinking about adding a new second desk so that I can quilt and sew without having to move around the computer...

From the desk, here’s the view to the door. The room juts in a bit so that I’m almost entirely blocked from the hallway view. So far, the only art on the walls is the Birches painting that my grandparents gave me. So beautiful.

And with the closet doors opened...

The closet is pretty awesome. The shelves can’t hold too much weight, but I have a few tiny fiberboard bookcases that packed in to hold the heavier things (mostly books and notes from college), and the rest is all crafts and ribbon and old CD cases. All of my elementary/middle/high school things went into three rubbermaid files that are now destined to live in the garage.

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Week Ten

November 12, 2007

All around, a middle of the pack performance that produced a 62-28 win. (I didn’t check right before the game and it turned out that Deion Branch was out – oops, but luckily it didn’t have an impact.) The Falcons D turned out to be a great pickup while the Pats were on their bye week, and I was impressed by the performances of Reggie Brown and LJ Smith – go Eagles! :-)

QB Drew Brees, NO 13
RB LaDainian Tomlinson, SD 15
RB Marion Barber, Dal 3
WR Reggie Brown, Phi 13
WR Deion Branch, Sea 0
TE L.J. Smith, Phi 8
D/ST Falcons 10
K Matt Stover, Bal 1
QB Damon Huard, KC -5
QB Jason Campbell, Was 18
WR Muhsin Muhammad, Chi 8
WR Donte' Stallworth, NE (BYE) 0
WR Nate Burleson 5
TE Alex Smith, TB (BYE) 0
D/ST Patriots (BYE) 0
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE (BYE) 0

For unrelated visual interest, Kevin was pretty pleased to get my TI-83 from senior year of high school’s AP Calc...


Though, something gained, something lost. He weeded out some of his old wires and plugs and circuit boards and electrical things, most of which were deprecated somewhere circa ’95. A sample useful thing:


RIP Kevin's desk

November 11, 2007

Kevin finally made the decision to give up the increasingly dillapidated desk that he’s had since starting college. He kept it with the best of intentions (ie. paying down student debt and now the mortgage), but the thing hasn’t been a 90-degrees sort of structure for years, and enough dust has blown out so that it just sways around its screws, rather than holding firm. For a circa-1999 structure built of particle board, and disassembled and reassembed so many times, it’s really done remarkably well, but all things come to an end.

We’ve had a dumpster in the driveway for a few days (thanks to home depot’s rent-a-dumpster thing – we got it for all of the drywall scrap in the family room, and it was so, so much more reasonable than going through the normal trash pickup options), and on the eve of the dumpster getting picked up, Kevin found a new desk and trashed the old.

One last photo for posterity:

Farewell, college furniture, you served him well...


Saturday dinner

November 10, 2007

Another dinner, since Larry (aka best man extrodonaire and the most favourite third wheel ever) was back in town interviewing – yay!! Shawn and Sanna and William the puppy came over to join us, and we did french onion soup and strawberry salad with the poppy seed dressing, plus a fair amount of cheese and crackers while we got ourselves in gear. I have my fingers so crossed that Larry moves back out.

(PS. The out-of-season tulips that appear to be sprouting out Kevin’s head arrived with Larry -- gorgeous. When I’m not hauling them from room to room to hang out with me, they’re sitting in our sunny kitchen window and keep greeting me when I walk into the room. :-) So pretty.)

Brown dinner

November 09, 2007

I don’t generally post much about Brown dinners (aka our alum potlucks) but we hosted on Friday (theme: garnishes) and it was a fun night full of firsts to accompany the normal fun. We made drinks (streetcars and strawberry-basil martinis) and a cheese tray, and everyone else brought borsht, salad, awesome grilled steak, and pretty gorgeous cupcakes.

Here’s everyone prepping in the kitchen...

... and then munching in the kitchen...

And eating (or laughing):

And then we decided to light the fireplace! At first tentatively…

.. and then rambunctiously (photo taken from the fishroom, which shares the gas fireplace with the livingroom).


Week Nine

November 06, 2007

First of all: it’s already week nine?! What happened to October??

Not a bad game – I finally have a winning record, after this 79-63 matchup. :-) Rock on. Drew Brees was awesome AGAIN (crazy!), and my running backs were decent. Wide receivers were remarkably subpar, and the pats D and kicker weren’t their typical selves, but it was enough to win by a pretty decent margin. Poor Schobel did nothing, but at least I was cheering for Philly while he was out there (even if the game itself was painful). And 11 out of Burleson (a new local pickup off of waivers, riding the bench for the moment) is not bad. We’ll see how he does.

QB Drew Brees, NO 28
RB LaDainian Tomlinson, SD 13
RB Marion Barber, Dal 16
WR Reggie Brown, Phi 5
WR Donte' Stallworth, NE 4
TE Matt Schobel, Phi 0
D/ST Patriots 7
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE6
QB Damon Huard, KC 7
QB Jason Campbell, Was 7
RB Michael Pittman, TB (injury)0
WR Muhsin Muhammad, Chi (BYE) 0
WR Deion Branch, Sea (injury) 0
WR Nate Burleson 11
TE Alex Smith, TB 1
K Matt Stover, Bal 1

In the “someday we’ll have walls and real furniture!” category, Metzger was in town and he, Shawn and Sanna came over to watch the Pats vs the Colts (and then the first half of Philly vs. Dallas until that got too depressing). We’re lucky to have the kind of friends that bring fancy cheeses and crackers (not to mention the beer!) but don’t blink an eye at watching the game from canvas chairs in a room that’s been stripped to the studs. :-) Our kind of people.

Plus, their puppy will be staying with us for Christmas! Pretty awesome.


Laundry Room Redo!

November 04, 2007

I don’t have a great “before” picture of the laundry room, since the sellers took their washer and dryer with them, and rooms without appliances always just look so bizarre and empty. But I did take a picture of the room when we were doing the inspection, so I suppose that makes a good before view. Major features of the room include doors to the garage and kitchen, a remnant-vinyl floor (it must have been the end of a roll, since it has brand names stamped all across it), a huge built-in cabinet, and room for a washer and dryer. The corners aren’t perfectly square, but the room is more-or-less 5’3” by 5’6”.

After removing the massive cabinet, Kevin did a fair amount of spackling, I plied off all of the old trim, and then I started painting. For the walls, we chose Behr in Sparkling Spring (730E-2) in a Satin finish. (Kevin’s parents recommended Behr – it’s the Home Depot house brand – as being great to work with for the price. So far, I couldn’t agree more.) We picked up two 30”W x 30”H x 12” D laminate cabinets (both have two adjustable shelves), new baseboard trim, and new vinyl flooring.

I decided to go with sheet vinyl for several reasons. Cost and speed of renovating were obvious considerations. This is for a laundry/mud room floor that sees a lot of traffic, so it needed to be durable and easy to clean. Barring plumbing nightmares, this floor won’t be subjected to tons of water, but the fish buckets will pass through several times a week, so there needed to be something that would hold up to that. Also, the old floor was in good enough shape that a new layer of vinyl could be installed directly on top – VERY appealing, especially since we don’t know how old the existing floor was (if before 1986, it probably contains asbestos, which obviously isn’t something we wanted to be ripping into). Also, vinyl sheeting comes in 6’ widths, which was perfect for this project. So, vinyl sheeting it was.

I found a pretty pattern, with little blue diamonds on a white background, but it ranged from 1.50 a square foot with a three week wait, to $2.89 per sq ft with a two week wait… Not ideal. Then, Home Depot came through again, since they sell 6’ x 8’ rolls for $20 – not a huge pattern selection, but I found one that I really liked and we were off and running. I bought a 3/16” v-notched trowel and the adhesive, and rented a 75-lb roller. The installation went surprisingly well. Kevin removed the door to the garage for ease of access and I sawed about an eighth of an inch off the bottom of each of the door frames so that the sheet could slide underneath. The adhesive was increasingly messy to work with until I got a cup of hot water – that and a paper towel solved everything when a little bit went awry. I installed new floor tacks, and then the new trim, and now I love this room.

Pretty, right? :-)

I’m particularly proud of us for hanging the cabinets level and appropriately close together without incident. :-)

(Sorry for the dreadful lighting in that one -- it's what you get when you take pictures at midnight.)

The new washer and dryer showed up the next day. We’re both getting a kick out of them. We ended up with the LG WM2455 (the only 4.0 cubic foot front washer that was shallow enough to fit in the room. Thankfully, consumer reports had great things to say about it!) and the matching dryer. The two of them are a riot. I would love to know what sort of market research went into the design, but it resulted in a cross between an arcade game and a huge laundromat washer. When you turn the washer on, lights flash and it sings a little “yay, we’re about to do laundry!!” song. Select your cycle, and it spends a few moments earnestly sensing its load, and then goes on its merry way. When it finishes, you get another triumphant little melody (perhaps it’s calling to the dryer? “This was such fun! And now it’s your turn!!”), and then repeat all of the lights and singing for your dryer run. I would have thought the noise would be annoying, but it keeps making us laugh and so we haven’t turned it off yet.


More fun in the yard

November 02, 2007

I went out to hack back some of the massively overgrown hydrangea and rhododendron bushes blocking the light from the front walk and both front bedrooms, and found these impressive guys:

They weren’t there two days ago – pretty cool!!


We have a yard!!

November 01, 2007