Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"In the Garage"

"In the garage, I feel safe, no one cares about my ways..."

That is from the Weezer song "In the Garage" from 1994.
At the moment, Justin is out in our garage with Webster and our nieghbor Scott tearing out a wall that created a little room called the "party room" in the listing for the house. It is a little, panelled enclosure with a wall of windows and purple lilac print curtains. I imagine the previous owners must have enjoyed having friends over to play cards or games like so many people (my grandparents come to mind) from previous generations did. I kind of liked the room, but like Justin says, a garage can be a party room on its own if you want it to be!

There! The sheetrock is off!

This was a long shelf that hung along the wall on the garage side of the party room. Apparently the previous owner had access to old railroad crossing signs because the shelf was pretty long and made of several! We hadn't noticed this before because the side with the writing faced up.

The garage is full of the original cabinets from the kitchen. Even the spinning shelved lazy susan corner cabinet is out there! I think they are pretty sweet! I love the 1950's boomerang handles, and the countertops also have a boomerang pattern. I'm glad they saved them when the remodelled the kitchen! Part of me wishes they still were in the kitchen! Unfortunately, my nostalgic taste doesn't apply to everyone...

Allan is doing's been two weeks since he's joined us! He is very sweet and cuddly. He has spurts of energy where he bolts around and charges up and down the stairs, but he is generally very good. He is getting VERY curious though. . . this evening I was cleaning the kitchen sink with some Mr. Clean and I could hear him thumping around and I thought he was in the living room. When I opened the cabinet under the sink to put the Mr. Clean away, he was under there! I had closed the door on him and he didn't even make a sound! He must have been playing or something. I also caught him trying to open cabinets with his paws. . . it's only a matter of time. . . hopefully he realizes it is boring under there and forgets about it before we have to get baby-proofing cabinet locks!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I made curtains for our bedroom 2 weeks ago, but I haven't shown any pictures yet because I am in space occasionally and forgot to buy enough fabric for the small window! Here is a picture of what I have done.

This one has a funny glare! I got the fabric from Mill End Textiles. It took forever for me to find anything in fabric form or in pre-made form that I liked. It was kind of urgent because we had a bunch of old curtains from our Grand Forks apartment pinned over the windows. Blinds aren't a good option for this room because the windows open in a strange way.

I found the lamp (and it's twin!) at a thrift store. They are bright yellow!

One of these days I am going to to a full room before and after post, but that would mean making the bed and putting all clothes away at the same time, so we'll see when i get around to that! It is even more challenging now that I have my friend Allan following me everywhere!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Yard

Hello...It was pretty warm out today (the Weather Channel said 78 degrees) which is about 40 degrees warmer than it's been for about 2 weeks and warmer than it will be until next spring most likely. In every yard on the street, people were outside mowing and getting their yards in order. I pulled the frozen flowers and tomato plants out of their pots and Justin mowed and sprayed the yard with weed killer to prepare for next spring.

The yard is nice. It is narrow but deep and has a small uphill slope in the back. In the front there is a nice little flower bed along the front walkway. The yard has been neglected except for basic mowing because the previous owner was elderly and unable to do alot of yard work. The flower bed was full of some sort of spreading perrenial which was not very pretty and was spreading into the grass and even into cracks in the sidewalk and driveway. (The way that some plants can survive amazes me! Ask my mom about our "big yellow flowers" on the farm! We built an addition over them and they just relocated themselves and started growing around the addition.)

I'm glad Justin actually takes pleasure in mowing and yard work. In this respect, we grew up in different worlds. On the farm, and I know this is not uncommon on many farms, the yard work was the job of the women and children of the house. It was always one extra job that my parents could barely keep up with and that could get out of control fast. (I believe my dad once called it "a hay meadow" when it was reaching an out of control length).

The man mowing the lawn is a stereotype of the past, but I don't usually see such a division except on farms and I also don't know many kids from cities who drive lawn tractors or even use push mowers when they are in elementary school. I don't think I've ever seen my dad on our small John Deere lawn tractor, even though I know he used to take care of the yard in our past lives before the farm. As soon as we moved there, my mom took over the yard work that had been done by my Grandma. She grew up in town and had never mowed during her youth. As children, as soon as we were heavy enough to activate the blades, we were mowing too. (My brother was enthusiastic about this, my sister and I were indifferent. Also, I wasn't very good at making a nice "circle around the house" pattern during my early years.) That grass grows uncontrollably in the summer without fertilizer, sprinklers, aeration, edging or any other kind of maintenance. The dog of the moment always learns to take its bathroom breaks somewhere else (the woods?) so that doesn't stop it either. If it rained alot. . . ugh. . .the bane of my teenage existence. I will admit, it sure looks nice when it is freshly mowed and cut grass is one of my favorite smells!

When I was about 14 or 15, I learned how to drive the "H", an old Farmall tractor with a mower attached that we used to mow the larger farm yard around the machinery buildings. That part of the yard was an endless 3 hour job involving circling bins, avoiding parked machinery and mowing close to a row of lilac bushes that attract alot of bees (yikes!). The mower was tank-like in its movements and by the time the job was done my hands tingled from the vibrations, my ears rang and usually my hair a tangled nest of leaves, bugs or branches or some combination of them. The worst was when those weird tree worms that dangle from the trees on silk strings were having a cycle. Ewwww. . . I will admit, though, that driving this mower was a good upper body workout. I will also admit, and I'm sure most mowers have experienced this, that seeing your progress gives satsifaction.

This is a photo from the Internet, not the actual one we used at the farm. This one's not even a mower! I always thought the bouncy seat was a fun!

On another topic, Allan is doing good. He is adjusting nicely and loves to nap and snuggle. It is actually very cute and irrisistible. I still worry about leaving him alone for periods of time during the day and also at night. I feel better every day though. This weekend, every time we left and returned, we found him lounging on the ottoman. On Friday I found him stuggling in a sweatshirt of mine I had left on the couch. Last night, Justin checked on him about 1/2 hour after we had "put him to bed" in the basement and he was sleeping in his cat kennel that has his cute little baby blanket the Humane Society sent him home with. That made me very happy to know that he sleeps at night and isn't scared! We have tried leaving the basement door open at night so he can roam (don't worry, the basement is finished and normal. . . it's not like a dungeon basement.) However, he cries outside our bedroom door and if we let him in he charges around the room and purrs really loud and prevents us from sleeping. I think the separation is good because I don't want a overly needy cat!

He seems completely comfortable with us, as he is demonstrating in this photo! He loves watching football!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Allan's Lucky Day

We finally "took the plunge" and did something we've been thinking about and talking about for over a year...we got a cat! On Thursday, Justin revealed to me that he has been taking the necessary steps at the Humane Society (filling out the paperwork and spending the required hours) to adopt a four month old orange and white kitten. He brought him home yesterday and it has been quite an adventure!

First of all, he is very nice and very playful. He purrs nonstop whenever a person is around. He starts purring as soon as he is in the presense of a person. He purrs when he is falling asleep. He purrs when he plays. He also is constantly kneading with his cute little paws. He is laying next to me right now kneading the side of my leg and purring.

I feel like a brought a baby home. I am nervous about doing everything right. I don't know if he's eating and drinking enough or too much. We put him in the basement to sleep last night and I could hardly sleep all night worrying if he was scared or lonely or if he was sleeping at all. When I leave the house I worry that he will get into something or fail to use his litter box (which hasn't happened yet.) I am trying to get him to use a big, expensive scratching post I bought by sprinkling catnip on it because I am worried he will start scratching the furniture if he gets bored (also something he hasn't done much of yet.)

Last night, he was skittish and kind of hyper but still friendly. Today he has been playful part of the time and sweet and cuddly for part of the time. This afternoon he napped in my lap and purred for an hour at a time. When I would get up he would run around briefly and come back as soon as I sat down. After my sleepless night I took a rare nap for 1/2 hour and he slept next to me on the couch the whole time! However, he also has a penchant for my computer cord and tried to get at my sandwich when I sat down to eat lunch. I guess I'll have to stop eating on the couch!

He was born in the Humane society and shared a cage with his brother. We have been trying to introduce him to the house a few rooms at a time so he doesn't get overwhelmed. I hope he likes it here and will adjust quickly. The last few days remind me of a commercial on the Animal Planet channel for some pet food that also encourages adoption that shows a dog or cat in a cage in a shelter, and says "it is (name of pet)'s lucky day!" and shows them going to a home where they can run play and lounge in the sunlight.

He immediately started using these trees as toys and I had to put them up high! They are irrisistible, I admit!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Experimental Kitchen

As the weather gets colder, Justin and I have both been craving delicious hot meals. As the unemployed one of the two of us it is logical that I am the one who has been trying to learn how to provide for us what we crave (or what I crave and what he will hopefully like as well)...Throughout the years my cooking and baking experience has been minimal and slow to build based on the fact that my mom cooked everything for us growing up. I prepared frozen pizza, pasta-roni, and canned soups when I was babysitting, and occasionally I had to make my own lunch (sandwiches) before I went to work in high school. When I moved to college I always had a cafeteria or cook to provide meals. During law school, I ate mostly sandwiches and pasta with sauce from a jar or food from the school food court for the first two years until my third year when I decided to start preparing eggs and meat for myself for the first time (yes, I was 24 years old and had never purchased raw meat for myself at a store. Believe it or not.) Such habits can only go on so long, however...

Has anyone seen the documentary "Supersize Me"? It came out a few years ago (2004) and followed the adventures of a healthy man who decided to eat McDonald's food every day and reduce his activity level to that of an average American. The results were not good. He gained a lot of weight and his blood pressure and cholesteral went way up. I'll never forget the opening scene where he said:

"When I was growing up, my mother cooked dinner every single day. Almost all of my memories of her are in the kitchen. And we never ate out, only on those rare special occasions. Today, families do it all the time. And they're paying for it."

This is the way I grew up as well. Many of you probably did too. Now, of course all of my memories about my mom are not based around the kitchen, and I don't think it is the duty of moms (or dads) to sit in the kitchen and cook all day. We ate plenty of baskeball game pizza slices and had regular Schwann deliveries during my youth, but such indulgences are not the downfall of one's health (especially if you are a teenager who is playing basketball for several hours a day!). However, our kitchen was used daily and what we ate was generally baked and grilled, not fried and filled with preservatives. You can't deny the affect that restaurant dining and the consumption of processed food on a regular basis has had on people. Children are definitely getting heavier, where in the past weight would not become an issue until adulthood. Everyone knows the feeling of going on a trip or having a fun weekend where every meal is eaten in a restaurant. I know by the end, as delicious as the food is, I am ready eat anything as long as it isn't greasy, oversized and costly. I truly can't imagine the aftermath of this type of behavior on a regular, long term basis.

Anyway, the habits ingrained in childhood never went away and I've been experimenting more than ever in the kitchen (with the assisntance of some fun new equipment we recently unpacked from the wedding gift stash.) It's not as bad as I thought (even the part where I have to touch raw meat!). The only problem I have is that eating happens fast and cleaning is a big pain! It takes longer that the eating! We'll see how long it takes before I'm like a "mom" and can just produce meals or batches of cookies without looking at a recipe. (A long time, I'm afraid.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Someone Else's House For Once

I had intended to discuss not only our house but also other new homeowners' house related projects and adventures when I started writing this. So far, I've been mostly self-centered...until now!

My sister Andrea and her husband Kirk bought a house in February of 2009. They got a newer house (new=built in the 90's), so they didn't have to do the same amount of work or the same kind of work as we have been doing. However, they recently made a very fun improvement in their basement. They built a bar!

This photo was taken when Kirk and a friend were tiling the sides. When they started, the room was all carpeted. They put laminate under the bar and hung the shelves on the wall. The bar now has a counter of course, and some second hand bar stools. (Andrea and I both like to scrounge for cheap and/or old items.)

This weekend I visited them and they were doing something we also did before we moved in. They rented an insulation spraying machine and added extra insulation to their garage. We did this back in August and, on the recomendation of the inspector, added several extra inches to our attic. It is a gross, nasty job and Andrea ended up assisting. When we did this, I was just a bystander although I did get a lung full of the insulation dust a few times. I'm so glad Andrea wore a mask even though the result is a hilarious and scary looking picture!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

If I Fall

On Friday it snowed for the first time this year! Yikes! It was also the first freeze of the year and the poor little tree in our front yard decided to drop all of its leaves, even though they were still green. It is as though it said "FINE! I give up..."

On another topic, I am trying to decide what to hang on the living room wall. I have these vintage bird pictures that used to be in my parent's house on the farm. My mom apparently got them from my aunt, who got them at an estate sale years ago. The frames were gold and my mom painted them black. I think they look OK black, but I am in the process of painting the frames an aqua blue color with a metallic finish.

Please take note of the rug on the is none other than the "Maren" rug from Pottery Barn that I wrote about many posts ago! My parents ordered it for us as a housewarming/bar exam passage gift. It is beautiful. It is beautiful enough to make me care about walking on it with shoes on and making sure it is vacuumed on a regular basis, which is a big change after years of dingy apartment carpet!

This is the metallic finish! I love it! I hope the project turns out! If not, oh well! It's not like I paid for them. . .

We have had several guests here already, which is great. It was rare to have an overnight guest in the past. We had our first overnight dog visit, which was fun! This is Lou, the dog of our friends the Beckers's. She was very sweet and well behaved. I am extending the invitation to everyone! Come to visit! We actually have a bed for you, not just a couch or air mattress!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gin and tonic?

The kitchen is all together finally, and I think it looks perfect. I can't imagine it any other way. As I previously mentioned, it is painted yellow and from the outside it looks like it glows through the windows at night. It makes me want to get inside!

My favorite corner is this:

Don't get the wrong idea. . .I don't drink constantly. I probably drink one bottle of wine every two months. When guests come over I don't prance around with martini glasses on a tray. I do think that the wine rack adds some fun to the room though.
I found the "Gin and Tonic" sign at my favorite source for home decor. That place is TJ Maxx! Well, at least it's the most affordable and available source of home decor in my area. The martini glass was a birthday present from my friend Mandy approximately 5 years ago. Now, I know that martinis don't have gin in them (do they?) Also, we don't have any gin or tonic water. I do like it, however, so if anyone wants to get us a housewarming gift, well...hint hint, wink wink...

Sunday, October 4, 2009


It's Sunday afternoon and I am back home after a weekend in Fargo. It was no ordinary was NDSU Homecoming! This is a weekend I have loved since I started college. My family used to go to the parade when I was in elemtary school as well and I loved it because I got to see my cousins and eat junk food (specifically, a McDonald's Happy Meal that came in a halloween bucket!). It has been a family tradition for years. This year was special because my cousin was nominated for Homecoming Queen and my aunt and uncle came from Chicago! The weekend was full of family and friends and everyone had a great time.

Homecoming brings me waves of nostalgia because there are so many friends there and I always visit Kappa Delta, the sorority I joined when I was a Freshman. Each year, the girls get younger and less familiar, but the house never feels less like home. Walking into that house makes me feel so happy and welcome. It's not one of the stately mansions that house many sororities, but it is always warm and smells good and looks beautiful. I know many people think only negative things about Greek organizations, and I wish everyone could experience what I feel when I visit that place and see those girls. I can't imagine what my life would have been like if, instead of walking into a warm, vibrant house at the end of the day I had to return to a dark, generic apartment. FYI, alot of the negative things that circulate about Greek life are not true, and if they are true, they are a remnant of the past.

The visit to the house was only the beginning. Homecoming is full of bliss. We tailgated then migrated to the bar for lunch. Being in that old campus bar with friends, drinking tall beers from plastic cups and eating greasy food, makes me feel so content. . . it is one of my favorite aspects of fall and football season. Unfortunately, we lost the game. Oh well. . . there will be more games. . .
Anyway. . . this post has nothing to do with our house. I hope no one minds!