Saturday, February 28, 2009

2nd floor - the saga continues

With Jacques help (and Leah's too) I managed to move back into the second floor. Leah helped with the furniture and Jacques helped with the decision of the rug and warming up the chairs.
I bought Jacques a toy at IKEA today but he's not really excited about it. It's a pink tube that makes too much noise for comfort. I've put catnip and some other comfort spray in it, so maybe in the next few days we'll be excited about it.
It is so exciting to have things so close to how you want them. :)

Jacques's new floors

Here they are, complete with new dusty footprints and everything. Don't worry the floor was completely dry before either of us walked on it.

Isn't it lovely? That Henry Sanding Floor - he does an amazing job. Showed up at my house at 5:45 last night to finish up.
There is still a ton of work to be done (what a surprise) - so stay tuned.
Leah and I are going to my storage unit to pick up some rugs and stuff, will post again tonight.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The 2nd Fl Floors!

Henry Came yesterday, sanded them down and put the first coat of polyeurithane on them.
They look beautiful!!! Unfortunately my internet connection is on the second floor so I'll have to wait until Saturday to be able to get in there and do a proper post with pictures.
Needless to day, Jacques and I already left our dusty footprints all over the beautiful floors during our inspection.
And there may be a new problem with the bathroom. (sigh) Stay tuned.

Monday, February 23, 2009

2nd Fl. Floor

Well, we're about to do the floors. And boy do they need it.
I called Henry on Saturday and it took a little while before he knew who I was. But once he realized, I was golden. He remembered me, remembered that I'd recommended him to someone and gave me a great price on the second floor. He is coming on Wednesday to start - so I've been running around like a mad crazy person trying to get everything out of the way.
Tomorrow I teach - Wednesday night I shall buy a new refrigerator. Hopefully this weekend, I can get half of my 2nd floor put back together again, for a while at least.

I called Jeff after the tile came. He was thrilled, but can't come until the first week of March.
Jacques isn't sure what is going on. He was very helpful about claiming empty shelves, but I hope he doesn't think we are moving again. That was pretty upsetting for him.
PS: I had a dream about the aubergine ceiling in the bathroom. Somehow, I was being served tea by the lady who runs the store that sells the paper marbling stuff in Seattle. I've never met her, but in my dream she is a nice old lady with steel gray curly hair in a calico dress and white apron. As she poured me a cup of tea she told me I should paint the ceiling aubergine and then throw gold dust on the wet paint. :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Greatest Gift

I've been threatening to do this blog post for a while now:
I love my vacuum.
My fabulous Hoover Mach 6 superdooper vacuum was given to me by Daddy and Ann when they visited last July. Ann and I spent most of our visit at Home Depot picking it out. We looked at several models and I was suspicious about this one because it was on sale - but if I remember correctly, the sales lady said it was very good and she'd buy it if it was up to her. So they bought this one for me and it has been fabulous. It has shiny green buttons on it, a multi-chamber cyclonic cleaning system, cord rewind with 28' of cord (this is way cool- you can step on a button and the cord zips back into the machine!), a HEPA filter, and brush control. I can turn the brush on and off depending on what I'm vacuuming, not only that, but I can raise and lower the brush. This has been extremely helpful because my Persian carpets are different lengths and now the longer (thicker) carpets won't bunch up when I go over them, and the shorter carpets are still clean when I'm done with them. That's the best part about this vacuum; it really sucks up a lot of dirt. I can't believe it! My rugs are a different color when I'm done with them. Brighter. And now I like to vacuum - I feel like I've accomplished something. I feel as though I have a space age contraption - it does everything but vacuum by itself. Even the tubes are clear! You can see the dirt going through them. And you don't need bags. It's got a canister that you empty into the trash! So I'm not creating any more garbage by using a bag - I love it! If you come visit - I'll let you use it. :)
I also said I'd take another picture of my tiles so here they are:

I can't really tell if this is better color or not.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Good things come in small packages

My tile came today! yippee! There it is, in four small boxes. Wow. It's so beautiful!!! Unfortunately it's late at night and dark and the flash and the 60w bulbs don't do it justice. I'll try to see if I can get better color tomorrow during the day. Needless to say the color is a lot less avocado and a lot more fluorescent - as in - my favorite color green! And the blogger image isn't as good as the photoshop image anyway.
It was a very long and somewhat productive day, finishing up at Home Depot (doin' my part for the economy, as usual) and Trader Joe's. At Home Depot I picked up a lot of paint swatches because I really need to decide what color to make the bathroom - although, I'm leaning towards plain white to set off the tiles and the wood.
Then again, doesn't that aubergine look beautiful with the green tile? (sigh) I just think that's a bit much with the blue wall and the orange hallway… oo - maybe I could make the ceiling that color?! Wow that would be something…

So, yes, I went to Home Depot today to see what I could see. I wanted:
foam for the basement(I'll explain shortly)
staples for the staple gun
molding for the second floor door
and I wanted to inform myself about fridges and washers and dryers.

Okay fine. Picked up foam and staples and went to check out the appliances. I found the fridge I want, upside down, white, with a funny freezer on the bottom. (There's a door that opens instead of a drawer.) It's smaller, only 20cu.ft. but I think that's okay - I'm actually surprised at how often my fridge is empty. I think this is a good thing - it means I'm not being to wasteful with food and I eat what I purchase. Good. While I was looking for the fridge, I found almost the same model my grandmother had! Upside down (freezer on the bottom). It's too bad it's only 10cu.ft., which works well in Germany for retired people who can go to the market everyday to pick up fresh food, but I don't think would work well for me after a while. It's still as cute as ever, and the freezer is a bit more convenient with three drawers rather than one drawer and a tray. Hmm.
I also asked about washer/dryers - and the turquoise one's I want are good. :) I might just get them. If I open a Home Depot charge card I can save 10%. This would be very good.

Now, if good things come in small packages, do bad things come in big packages?

I had someone come out and do an environmental audit of my house. After my $783.- heating bill last month - something had to be done. Lee the fabulous electrician recommended Joe - the fabulous sustainable environmentalist, who audits people's houses for a living and gives recommendations on what to do to fix things. He's also the first person who has really explained what "tightening" up a house means! I get it now. But it also makes me want to curl up on the floor and cry my eyes out. It means so much work. :(
Basically what we want is less air flow in the house. Now I know what a drafty "West Philly" house means because I have one! The house will be more efficient when I block off all the leaks of cold air into the house - which basically equals the warm air out of the house. So in addition to putting the fiberglass in the basement, I now have to use that horrible spray foam. The foam needs to go between the edge of the floor and the wall of the house. Because there is a gap in the walls that allows (even at 1") enough cold air in the basement to flow through the walls that they are cold. Thus, all of the spray foam at Home Depot. So maybe I'll get to that this weekend. But the other things that need to be done (so far) are to spray fibercell into the walls, once the spray foam is done. This can be done by poking a small hole in the wall and spraying the stuff in. Good. I also have to spray insulation into the attic crawl space. So far that's all I know. Joe has to come back next Friday to do the rest of the audit. This involves putting up a big fan and measuring the volume of the house and the difference in air flow in and out of the house. Sounds like complicated math to me. At any rate - the bottom line seams to be - I have a ton of work ahead of me to get this house tightened up so that that ridiculous heating bill comes down.

On that note. I think Jacques is cold. Poor baby. He's been very very cuddly lately, and tonight especially, sitting on my shins just didn't seem to be doing it. He decided a better spot was between me and the chair. I'm fine with this arrangement too - he's very warm.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tile Tile Tile!

When I got home from teaching tonight, I got a message - my tile is in Philadelphia! Will make arrangements tomorrow to get it in my house. Yippee!

Monday, February 16, 2009

President's Day

I remember when we used to have two holidays in February - Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday. Sure do miss those days.
I decided to attack the wall facing the living room , and I am one step closer now to having the second floor finished. :) It looks nice, doesn't it?
I am posting early because I am waiting for my rice to cook. I hope it tastes as good as it smells.
Tara's President's Day Rice:
2T Avocado Oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5cloves of garlic smashed through press
1 cup rice
2cups water
2 bay leaves
1inch cinnamon stick
1t cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the avocado oil in whatever you normally cook rice in. Add onions and garlic. Saute until cooked, about 5min. Add the rice continue to saute for another 3 minutes. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Add the water. Sprinkle cumin on top of water, add salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer 20 minutes. I'm planning on adding a bit of cheese and eating this with some refried beans. I can't decide if I need to add some tomato sauce.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

All in a Day's Work

Well, just in case you are wondering, I did my Michelin Man impersonation down in the basement for many hours this weekend. A full Tyvek suit, goggles, dust mask gloves - the whole nine yards, kept me mostly safe from the dirt and fiberglass. I'm three quarters of the way done, but out of staples. It was a good time to break anyway because I've finally figured out the absolute best abdominal work out: Keep your arms straight up in the air and pull fiberglass insulation over pipes, wires, joists, struts, beams and heating ducts- and then keep them up a bit longer to use a staple gun to staple the insulation to the joists. Whew - I am feeling it!
I did that for about three hours today and I can still feel all the grit that managed to fall in my eyes despite the goggles. It may be my imagination but I think it is working. The first floor isn't toasty, but at least the biting cold is less. The biting cold is the kind that no matter how warm the rest of you is (because of two layers of sweatpants, three shirts, wool sweater, scarf and hat), the tip of your nose, your cheeks, finger tips and toes all have frost bite. This was nice because I got into a show and had to take photographs on the first floor this evening.
The show is at Susan Hensel's Gallery in Minneapolis. It is titled Small, Smaller, Smallest, and I submitted this little book I made with four one-dollar bills and a scrap of lime green leather. You get a good idea of the size in the image at the top. It's a bit blurry, but at least that's not my fault because I wasn't shivering.

I finished my new hat yesterday evening before going to Mary's party. Sorry about the weird picture. I just couldn't crop or adjust this one in photoshop. The color is very yellow and I should have cropped it, but it was so artsy - I decided to leave it as it was. I've been sitting at my computer for about three hours now, I don't know why I wasn't wearing my hat!? It's so much warmer with it on!
Tomorrow I must:
Lesson Plan for Tuesday
Go to Moore to pick up stuff from last week, drop of stuff for this week
make new boxes for exchanges
pack up new boxes
sand and prime living room wall
??? Other stuff I'm surely forgetting.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What is wrong with me?

I cannot get it together today. I have been procrastinating on insulating that basement pretty seriously. Couldn't get down there yesterday for one reason or another, and today it's already 11:40 and I'm still putzing on the second floor!
I started a new hat (see above)
had breakfast
wrote checks for bills
organized some paperwork
filed some stuff
more coffee
gazed in wonder at all of the dust still on everything
vowed to clean it this weekend
started a load of laundry
packed two packages
logged into my brain all the other things I should do this weekend:
insulate basement
pack up boxes for Vamp and Tramp
lesson plan
post office
Pearl for paper
Amish farmer for milk
Wine and Spirits store for Mary's anti-monogamy party tonight
And now I need to go hang up my laundry.
Then I really need to go down into that yucky basement and finish insulating the ceiling because it does really help. But, (boohoo) I don't want to go down there by myself. :( I don't even know if I can get NPR down there.
Happy Valentines Day - think of me in the dark, cold, cobwebby, dusty, lonely basement . . . woe to me. . .

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Update of work from Yesterday

I couldn't' wait. As you can see in this image the floor still needs to be done, but I couldn't wait to put some of my things back and have my kitchen back in order. Imagine beautiful hardwood floors and you get the idea. I'll have to move everything again when the floors are being sanded, but in the meantime I get to have a happy kitchen.
And the work we did in the basement yesterday was not in vain!
We started stuffing insulation between the joists from the back of the house. This is underneath the first floor kitchen that I've had to shut off because it is so cold. I put plastic on the windows, hung a heavy drape over the back door, shut the heating vent and put another heavy drape over the doorway. (There's no door at this moment or it would be shut.) That room has been a little icebox from the beginning and since I don't use it that much, I thought shutting it off would help my heating bill. Nope.
This morning I went in there to do some laundry and would you believe, that room is warmer than the hallway leading up to it? This is the hallway that is heated! Now it's not toasty, but it's much warmer - which proves to me that insulating the ceiling of the basement is a good idea! Phooey on the Internet. Half of the sites said it wasn't worth it to insulate the basement.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

3rd Time's the Charm

There it is, my blue wall - finally! It only took three gallons of paint to get it right. The first one the guy mixed the wrong color, the second gallon was simply not as cool as on the swatch, and the third one is just right. This photo has the flash on, so it's not quite right in the picture. The color of the wall is that beautiful ceramic cobalt blue. (Like the toilet I wanted) I still need to put one more layer of paint on, but after all the hiccups from this morning I think I'm going to sit down and watch a movie! I'm pooped.
Here's the wall in it's previous blue:
I've been looking everywhere for the right color. Cobalt blue does not seem to be in style at the moment. I thought I'd gotten the right color, and the swatch is really nice, but the color is so different when you get the whole wall painted. In the picture above you can see the old color with the new color swatch painted on top of it. Look how dusty the old color looks. The new color is so much more vibrant. Matches the fan better too! I thought I had finished the wall last night, and in night-time-light the wall looked fine. But in morning-sunshine-light it looked awful.
The plan was for Leah to help me insulate the basement today. I was going to pick her up from Home Depot to help me get insulation. I figured I could run a few errands before picking her up. Nothin' doin'. So we had to do them afterwards. Fine. Got home looked at the wall Leah agreed the new blue we picked up at Home Depot would be better. (Did I mention that the only color close to what I wanted was the Ralph Lauren paint - which is the most expensive paint in the store? Figures).
We trotted down to the basement and began. That plan was to shove insulation between the joists and everything else in the basement to try to do something about the heat on the first floor. After about an hour and a half of basement dirt falling into our eyes, fiberglass dust flying around (yes we were wearing masks, gloves and eye protection - sort of) we decided to have lunch to see if we were even doing this right. You'd think I would have looked into this ahead of time. Everything Leah read on the internet said to keep the kraft paper towards the wall? This didn't seem logical. Half the pages said, "Insulate!" The other half said "Don't bother".
We called Toni - Home Depot and Nicole, (in that order) and asked them. Nicole had the most confident answers so we decided to do it her way. BUT - she said you can't shove insulation in, that it functions best when it can lie completely flat. Well, that's not how mine is. Part of the problem is that my joists are closer together than standard sized stuff is in a house. So I may have to cut things down to size to get it in there. Then her next piece of advice is to use Tyvek to also help buffer and keep things up where they belong. I was hoping not to have to. And as usual, the quick and easy job I thought it was going to be has exploded into a major project. Ugh. When will I learn? We were feeling itchy from the fiberglass, (we really need tyvek suits), so we decided to call it a day. I think the fates are telling me to take a break finish one project and regroup. There are ten billion things I could be doing, but I think I need to just sit down with my feet up, admiring my blue wall, watch a movie and knit something. Then I can make a new list of all the things I have to do.

PS: I'm sorry about this post - I don't seem to be able to edit at this time. I hope it all makes sense. :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kitchen walls primed

All the walls are primed! I was going to be super woman and keep painting - then I remembered that I need to lug a 5 gallon container of paint up here and I caved. I painted pretty much all day so I think I did quite well. There were a few more things that needed spackling - those will be dry on Friday, and I'm not really sure how to proceed with the painting anyway. I think the best plan in to paint everything else white - and then paint the blue wall. But I need to mull that one over in my mind. I was told by several people to add color to the primer for the blue wall, thus the lavender wall at the moment. It's not bad - not great, but not bad.
I also had to refit the heating grate in the kitchen. I've almost got it. It fit better when it had plaster to hang onto. While I was working with it, I noticed some of the paint flaking off, so I took the utility knife and started scraping. I think I'll keep at it a while, see if it will be beautiful without paint. If not - I'll paint it blue.
While I was working on getting the grate to fit, I peered down the heating duct.
There had to be about 120 years of heating dust in there. yuck. So I grabbed the shop vac and sucked out most of it, but there was still some in there. I was wishing I had some amazing round brush that would clean it all out when who appeared and took care of the situation? Why my faithful sidekick, Jacques. He hopped right in there and was half way down when he panicked and backed up right quick-like. Out he popped all grey from the extra dust I wasn't able to get with the vac. Thanks Jacques!
A few more shots of the beautiful weather. Icicles hanging off of the eaves. They grew over the day because the sun melted the snow which dripped, but it was cold enough for the water to re-freeze. There was also a soft wind and it would blow the powdery snow from the roof making it look as though someone had thrown a handful of silver glitter into the air. Every snowflake shimmered and sparkled in the sunlight.

Snow Day - again!

NPR said at 6am "Philadelphia public schools are closed" Woohoo! So I shut the radio off, turned over and slept for another three hours.
But look how beautiful it is.
I love the seasons of my back yard. The snow is thick and powdery. Mr. El and his helper had already shoveled in front of my house so I didn't have to do that. I need to pick up some more salt this weekend though. . .
One thing I've wanted to see from the moment I moved in is snow on the tree. I love snow on evergreens. The cedar trees by the museum last night were heavy with snow, just gorgeous.
It will be 27° today so the snow will last a bit. It's soft and powdery, like a down blanket thrown over the entire neighborhood.
Jacques, of course had to inspect things, forgetting that he doesn't like the snow. He did widdle on my porch and left me a nice little yellow pile of scraped-up snow.
He followed me to the shed to see what I was up to - telling me all the while how much he didn't like the snow on his paws and making the dogs absolutely nuts.
Aren't they cute? That's Girlie in the middle with her cute ears.
In a complete non-sequitur: I am thrilled that Daschle stepped aside. I was feeling a bit down with that scandal and thought, well, here we go again - nothing's going to change. I'm so glad that it is.
Painting the kitchen today - stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

One of those days

Have you ever had one of those days, where despite a lot of hiccups, it was actually a really great day? It was supposed to snow all night last night and we should have been snowed in by this morning. This would have meant a snow day for me. But alas, upon waking up, there was barely a dusting on the ground. So off to work I went
There we had a meeting to discuss a fundraiser for HSP that I can't talk much more about because it was a confidential meeting. But needless to say - we were laughing at some of the ideas because otherwise we'd be crying. Oi.
Upon ordering lunch from my usual place, she added fries to my chicken melt - that I really didn't want, but took anyway because she'd already charged me for them, and they were cooked, and I knew I could convince Leah to eat the other half.
At lunch EVERYBODY had those blasted Girl Scout cookies - handing them out - and I managed resist.
It started snowing at about 1:30.
Got to school around 2:30 and realized I hadn't prepped some important things. There is something to be said for being a pack rat and saving unused items. I had enough stuff in my office to wing it without my students being the wiser.
My advanced class was stellar - there were tons of, "I love this!" Despite the fact that I didn't really teach them anything. I said, "here - read this" and "here's some paper, make a tunnel book." And we sat for three hours and they did! They are my rock star class.
My Book Box class (basic class) surprised me by rising to the occasion when a fire was lit under the behinds. We finished their course books, and a multi purpose box, and despite the fact that it was 9:20 and class was over and I said they could leave, not one of them left without finishing their box. I am quite pleasantly surprised. This is not what usually happens and definitely not what I expected from this class. I had to stay until about 9:50 until the last two were finished.
It took 20 minutes to get home in a cab because there is now at least six inches of snow on the ground.
On the way home, I passed such views; heavy snow on bare branches, kids sledding down the Art Museum steps, snow on fences and steps, on sidewalks, and another bunch of kids (grown up one's by the looks of them) making and enormous snowman in the park.
I made a martini to wind down and despite the fact that I ran out of gin, it still tasted good.
It was a good day.Dare I hope for a snow day tomorrow?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Sunday

I had promised Miss Mary that I would watch the Superbowl with her back in ??? October?
Miss Mary is Mr. El's wife and we get along just fine. SO - while I was looking forward to spending the evening with her, I was also stressed about how much work needed to be done in the ol' abode. For one thing - winterizing needed to be done. I spent most of today putting plastic up on the windows of the first floor. I'd also bought upholstery fabric (a really great green) from JoMar for about $4/yard, and I put heavy drapes up to help insulate the first floor. This is where the thermometer is - and I'm hoping to drop that insane heating bill! I think I still need to do the bathroom but it's not as drafty as the front rooms.
It was warm today too - about 40° - and I did a bunch of laundry and dried it outside. However, now I'm freezing. Bedtime soon - I've got two quilts and a down comforter - that should do the trick.
I promised pics of the pantry by daylight so here it is:
Too bad I didn't have time to work on this more. I'll do some more tomorrow - come hell or high water. I did prime behind the sink and stove area - but that's about it.
I have to say I am really thrilled with my choice in turquoise. It looks especially stunning around my daffodils from Trader Joe's which opened nicely today.
Don't miss little Jacques' inspection on the bottom shelf. How cute is that?

Back to the Superbowl - I've never watched this in my life. But I went over to Miss Mary's to see what we could see - me, her mom, and another neighbor - Miss Joy. Joy works at my bank - go figure? She was so nice, I'm looking forward to being friends with her. She lives a few doors up from me, I've met her daughter more since she's friends with Miss Mary's granddaughter. It's always great to hang out with Miss Mary. She is an incredibly nice person and we seem to have really bonded. I'm sorry I had to leave the Superbowl early - it was nice hanging out with her. But I didn't see much of the game - at anyrate…