I've angled the living room furniture. Looking at the previous set up, it looked like all we ever did in there was watch TV. A design book I was reading pointed out that people should be able to sit and engage in conversation without turning their heads. Our previous setup did not have that feature. So here's the new setup. I'm still deciding whether or not to get rid of the pink chair.
The first image is the "before picture" and the second image is the "after" picture and quite honestly, they don't look very different. But in real life, things are much more organized. For one thing, I finally hemmed the dresses that have been hanging there since summer, which means they aren't blocking access to the shelves. I've also moved the canning jars to be more accessible gotten rid of all the non-essential stuff.
My Aunt Pat has her own holiday decorations, as well as the traditional family decorations. Here are some of my favorites this year.
Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! The angel is trapped in the fireplace. Trapped behind the fire screen. What if someone lights a fire?
Joining us in a Bethlehem stable will be a large metal enclosure with tons of knee-sized truffles. An offering from an American chocolate conglomerate to the Prince of Peace?
These angels are trapped behind a golden fence with musical notes. Sadly, it doesn't seem to be inspiring good music.
Have your run out of room to store a flower arrangement that is bigger than you? With our brand new Amphora Bustle, you will be able to take along your Christmas floral arrangement on your next December caroling date.
Matt and I have been using the Flylady calendar since we moved in together. I find it hard to believe that we have lived together long enough to have four of them to discard. But there is the evidence, right there.
I recently decided that the back porch would be a perfect place for suet feeders. There is a large wooden beam--the bottom half of the upper deck--which is undercover and squirrel and cat proof. Plus, when lounging around on the bed, the cats have a good view of the feeders, providing daytime entertainment. I put up the feeders a few weeks ago and have been eagerly awaiting any signs that the birds have discovered them. Last weekend, the cats and I were lazing about in bed when suddenly, "Hah-ha!" we all jumped up at once. The birds had arrived.
My aunt tells me they are Juncos. All I know is that they come in flocks and flit in and out keeping myself and the cats, as well as the cats that hang around the back yard, entertained.
A certain formerly feral kitty who shall remain nameless--at least for the rest of this sentence--is quite the forager. Sentinel gets up on the counters, but in a blatant way so I always know what he's up to. Antares is sneakier and more willing to eat things that Sentinel won't such as pie crust and muffins. When I've got things that need to cool for awhile, it's hard to keep him out of the food. So I developed this low-tech system.
When things come out of the oven, I place them on one of my stacking racks to cool. Then I place another stacking rack on top of the first one and lay dish clothes over the whole structure. This barrier seems to be enough to keep the kitten out of the food, even though he could easily pull off the dish clothes, if he so desired.
We attended a white elephant gift exchange hosted by the lovely Heidi and Kevin. We came home with assorted white elephant things including a Sushi making kit and a lobster magnet and a beautiful ugly clock/lamp combo. Better, Heidi and Kevin sent us home with Pickles--dill and sweet--two bottles of homemade Bella Beer and zucchini ginger relish. Mmmmm-mmmm.
There are two problems with getting good pictures of Antares. One of them is that he's an all-black kitty. They are hard to photograph without a flash that bounces off the ceiling. In fact, some of the best pictures we have of Sentinel are the ones that our friend Joshin took with his fancy camera.
The second problem with getting a good photo of Antares is that he is super wary of every possible thing. Thus, he will be sitting and looking cute on my bed, but the minute I get the camera out, he is on alert. "What's that?" he stares at me. "Is that something to hack me to pieces with?" So by the time the picture is taken, his formerly cute expression has taken a turn for the worse.
Still, he is a nice cat and he does look sweet. I especially love how he sits with his front paws tucked beneath him.
After a lunch out and watching the super-fabulous movie The Town mom came over and we decorated cookies. First we did this gingerbread man. It's a lot harder than it looks on the front cover of the box, let me tell you.
And we also decorated sugar cookies. They were from a mix, so didn't taste very good, but eating them wasn't the point anyway. It also turns out to be hard to make super looking Christmas Cookies. We laughed a lot at our creations.
I didn't capture very well the amount of grime and detritus that builds up on the entryway floors during the rainy season, but trust me, there is a lot. When it is wet outside the first 10 feet of our living room gets all the dirt, leaf debris and much from our shoes. I can scrub it, but I don't often enough and it's starting to become ground in.
Enter: the long rug designed to catch what the floor shouldn't.
It has about the same weave as the cats' catch scratcher, so they are thrilled that I've provided a very large horizontal surface cat scratcher.
Each time they scratch I remind them it is a rug, not something for their claws. They don't really care to listen to me. But the floors are staying clean.
I take the #4 bus from work to George Middle School twice a week to volunteer. On my way I pass through New Columbia. This spring, I spied this construction trailer which caught my eye because of the name, Orange Splot, and the detail on the trailer. I watched construction through the spring and again in the fall and I was excited to learn that my very own Proud Ground, the land trust that we bought our house, was building this new development.
I was even more excited to see that there would be an open house and so biked over to check out the new building.
Woolsey Corner has eight units for sale ranging from $105,600 to $144,00. The smallest unit is 650 square feet and the largest is 1380. All homes have 2-3 bedrooms and 1-2.5 bathrooms. All units also have access to the community unit which includes bike parking, a common room and a bed and bathroom for out-of-town guests.
The building has many green and energy efficient features designed to cut utility bills. It also looks fabulous. Here is one of the two bedroom flats. It has a kitchen/living room area, a bathroom and two bedrooms. There is built in storage and access to a washer & dryer which is shared between the three flats.
The two bedrooms of the unit.
The townhouse, the only unit sold at the time of my visit has these great built in bookshelves.
A kitchen of another unit.
The dining/living space with built ins.
I was fascinated with the heat pump technology. It would be nice to have for our heated-by-cadet-heater home.
Each unit has a heat pump to regulate the house temperature.
A water heater tucked away in a closet.
Stackable washer and dryer. Notice the front loader. Oh, how I pine for one of those. Much more than a heat pump.
A view from an upstairs unit.
A typical bedroom of an upstairs unit.
I really liked this open floor plan.
This unit has a great view of the community garden. While I was visiting a couple decided to purchase this unit. I don't blame them. It's got the best view, a lot of light and that community garden will never have anything developed on top of it, because there is a railroad tunnel underneath.
This tree was preserved during construction and it shades the courtyard.
Stairways incorporate used musical instruments.
All in all, another great project by Proud Ground.
..is not a warm gun (if you are a Beatles fan) or a warm puppy (if you are a Charles Shulz fan.) Happiness is an orderly broom closet, after spending three-plus years of cursing its disorder. After I finished this project I kept walking by and opening the door, just to look in and feel happy. This was more exciting to me then getting the bedroom painted.
Here is the before shot of one side of my room, pre-painting. I neglected to take a picture from the other direction, but imagine a bed and white walls and you've got it.
Mid paint. Notice the helpful kitty Sentinel sitting on his perch.
Chris and I worked bits of two days and voila! A freshly painted room. Here is my bed frame. I really like the white on the blue, but the way the mattress stacks up on the bed frame, I would have been better off buying a platform and saving my money.
As you can see here, all bed frame is obliterated. This is also stage I of a three stage paint job. Stage II is to install shelving along the dark blue line so the cats can hang out in the top part of the room. Also to set stuff on. Stage III is to stencil a star I liked that was used in decorative woodworking in Hungary. Those improvements are coming soon to a theater near you. Don't hold your breath waiting.
Here is the view from the other direction. As you can see, I have cleaned off the upper reaches of my desk, so I can better highlight the fabulous bottle brush lamp I got in a white elephant gift exchange. I use it every morning.
A close up of the lamp. Isn't it fun?
It has occurred to me that there remains only one room in the house with white walls. Unfortunately, it is the bathroom, full of difficult painting situations. But when I get that done, all the painting will be finished!