Sunday, February 22, 2009

Our "Superior" Saturday

Now we're really under the gun. Or, at least my long-suffering husband is in that position.

K has been working extra hard on the house, taking time from work to put time into the house. The theatre kicks into high gear production schedule in the spring and once that happens, there'll be little time DIYing.

And not only that, but it's almost time again for the Before and After Contest over at One Project Closer. We didn't have anything ready to enter last year and I'm determined to have an entry this year.

So . . . we spent our precious Saturday morning at Superior Moulding

where we bought a gazillion wooden switch plates (wow, those really add up! Why did I complain so much about not having enough outlets??) and we bought picture rail. Here's a pic of K loading a 16' length of picture rail into his sports car:

He looks like he's on his way to a jousting tournament.

While we were there, we saw an HGTV host and camera guy shopping and recording the host's design process. It was for The $250,000 Challenge. That's gotta be the one HGTV show I don't know.

Take a look at carved pieces we could have selected (but didn't):



Once we got home with the picture rail, turns out there was a misunderstanding about how much picture rail there should be. Mmm. I guess we don't read each other's minds after all.

So as I was saying, I really want to have something ready for this year's Before and After contest. Last year, I was certain we'd have at least one room complete by summer's end but with working on 4 rooms simultaneously, that just didn't happen. Still hasn't. But we're close. Anyway, the contest is that you enter before and after pictures of any home improvement project you've completed during the past year. Each week they will be showcasing two projects (one on Wednesday and one on Sunday.) And, not only will there be weekly prizes for the submitters, One Project Closer will also be making bi-weekly donations to Habitat for Humanity. How cool is that? And . . . at the end of the contest period, there will be a grand prize for the winning entry selected by readers. You should check out their blog if you haven't already. It's a great resource with all kinds of how-to posts and tool reviews. And you gotta love any contest that supports a great cause like Habitat for Humanity and gives you the chance to see before and after pics of other people's projects.

Today? I've got a date with some Minwax and those cows.

Why You Won't Be Coming to My Oscar Party

You would be invited. Really, you would. We'd have champagne and tasty little snacky things from Trader Joe's. Maybe I'd make my famous Acapulco Dip. I'd wear a new set of pajamas - 'cause that's how I like to watch the Oscars, dressed like Hugh Hefner. I'd welcome you to dress like Hugh as well.

The only thing is - I'm not have a viewing party. And this is (one) reason why -

Yep, that's our TV. Generally, when you choose a size for your television, the TV should be wider than the components. When the demolition of our public rooms began November 2007, we would spend the next eight months pretty much confined to our bedroom. There was no room for the old style 27 inch TV. We gave it away and moved this tiny thing from basement storage to the top of our dresser. Now it's out in the living room, tucked into a corner. And the truly sad part of this story? There's really no room in the living room for a new TV (and this one is definitely not staying!)

Because we've opened up the room to the dining room, we lost a wall there. One wall will have the big pocket doors. Can't put a TV there. And the two remaining walls have windows. Mmm - a conundrum.

We've discussed losing the satellite service anyway. That would be about a $1,000 a year saved. Besides, now that I've unpacked our books, I have a lot of reading to catch up on.

K has this crazy idea that once the house is done, we won't need HGTV anymore. Crazy, crazy idea.

Happy Oscar Sunday. I'll be thinking of you.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Excavating My Life

For the past couple of weeks I've been like Howard Carter excavating the tomb of Tutankhamen. Except I've acted as both the archaeologist and the Boy King. K has been bringing boxes out of our storage and up from the basement. As I've been unpacking, I find myself confronted by the possessions of my former self, my life before The House.

I've found things I had no memory of owning. Things acquired late, just before the move (or given to us during the construction) and packed away until now had little chance to imprint into my brain.

I have a Waterford wine coaster? Really? How nice. And Waterford martini glasses too? Aren't we elegant!

In a box of completely unrelated items, I found a "new" biography of Henrik Ibsen. I'll be happy to find time to dig into that. There was also a "Complete Poems of Edgar Allen Poe."

There were boxes dedicated solely to items related to travel. I found a Euro hair dryer that I could swear I'd given away. I also found some Euros.

There were water treatment supplies for travel in the developing world and a toothpaste box marked "syringes." I'd completely forgotten about the syringes. Can you imagine the hubris? Lying in a hospital, suffering some grave disease or injury I look up at the doctor and say "Before you begin, you should know I've brought my own syringes."

I also recovered my much missed Nicole Miller "Barbie" toiletry bag. Within, I found a can of "Wrinkle Away" - because when you're traveling in the developing world, the last thing you want, besides needle-borne infection, is wrinkled outerwear.

Here's a leopard print insulated lunch pack. I wonder where that came from? Now I have no excuse for not packing my lunch to work.

And then there were these beauties:

The picture above doesn't really capture this blue glass properly so I had to take another but could only fit in one:

I have no idea where these salt and pepper shakers came from but I am thrilled to have them. They are my my absolute favorite color and I love their squawky little pose. I suspect that I purchased them myself at an antique store in a small town in Texas, but I'm not entirely sure. They must have been packed away before I ever had a chance to use them.

I know there's more to come. There are still boxes in the basement - boxes of things I could actually be using now - like a colander and some extra forks. We have 8 that we kept out. Even for just the two of us, a few more forks would be nice.

I know there are still oodles of glassware somewhere. And I can't really assign proper storage to what I have until I know what remains.

And then there are the cows. There are three boxes of cow creamers and a few more individuals tucked away here and there.

I don't like to think I'm defined by my things, yet obviously I am.

I cannot let go of so much stuff because these things are my history (whether or not I remember owning them.) Like good set design, the things with which I surround myself tell my history, my tastes and indulgences. They tell these things to me even when I don't recognize them.

Who are those people who are rootless and move about the world without need of possessions? They live on boats and on the road. They've seen our country from motorcycles and RVs. They've seen the world from sailboats. They backpack through Europe. They own only one pair of shoes. I'll never do any of those things. Yet how telling is it that I have three plastic storage boxes labeled Travel? I almost need a Sherpa to visit the Empire State Building.

Am I delusional to think I am not materialistic?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sinkin' Lincoln

I can’t believe it’s President’s Day weekend and I am without an appropriate President-related topic. I have been too consumed with housework to do my homework.

However, I have adopted a new habit lately. Someone told me about it a while back; it’s called Sinkin’ Lincoln. The idea is that an easy way to save money is to put away any $5 bills that one receives as change from a purchase. I rarely see a $5 bill so I shouldn’t miss the few I would tuck away.

Wouldn’t you know, as soon as I embark upon this plan I bought a $4 sandwich, paid with a $20 bill and got back three 5s in change. Now my sandwich has cost me $20.

Since then, more 5s have crossed my path than ever before. Who knows where this could lead? I’ll either finally be able to retire or I won’t be able to pay my bills because I’ll be hoarding a good chunk of my salary in the form of $5 bills.

The person who suggested this saving technique said she was able to pay for a vacation to Ireland. Mmm. That’s a load of Lincolns. She also wasn’t sure if the scheme was called Sinkin’ Lincoln or Thinkin’ Lincoln. "Sinkin’" makes more sense to me so I go with that one. "Thinkin’" suggests that I’ll be going around practicing more charity and less malice. Worthy goals, for sure. I’ll keep that plan in mind for next year.

However, my own experience has also shown that Thinkin’ Lincoln may also be true. Since starting this scheme, a lot more $5 bills have come my way. Selective Consciousness? or Creative Visualization? They’re one and the same, really. One is just more pro-active. The Universe has shown me that if I want to put money away, I can. I just have to act in awareness. Awareness is everything. Thinking is everything. Too often I get caught up in the requirements of my day – getting to work, doing the laundry, cleaning the cat’s box – I leave out the time for the active engagement of magical thinking - - focusing on selecting from an infinite number of experiences that will fulfill my goals.

So - back to President’s Day. Not too long ago, who would have thought that the man who is now President would be in the White House now? He did. He dared to imagine it when the rest of us would have thought "no way." Talk about your magical thinking.

So maybe in addition to sinking away a few 5s every now and then, I’ll steal away 5 minutes a day to focus on some magic. Who couldn’t use a little magic these days?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What a Crock!

Did you ever have one of these?

I did. I had one exactly like this one.

My Mom gave it to me, back in the '80s. She thought I could prepare dinner before I left for work and I'd have a hot, healthful meal waiting for me when I got home.

I don't know how much my Mom recalls about my early years but I'm not a morning person. Never have been. It's really all I can manage to get fully dressed before leaving for work. Adding the preparation of a meal to my morning routine just is not going to happen. Sorry, Mom.

But I held on to the crock pot. For years. Then, just before our move we let it go. Probably donated it.

Well . . . six years later, K reads in a blog that a good way to remove paint from old fixtures is to soak them overnight in a crock pot. So the search is on for another crock pot. But they weren't to be found in any of the thrift stores. Hard times must have revived interest in pot cooking. But then, while on the prowl for a used desk, I saw it - in Out of the Closet - my favorite charity resale store. I paid $10 for the pot, the absolute genetically identical twin of the one we gave away, probably to Out of the Closet.

I guess we were just meant for each other.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

On My Desktop? A Mean Looking Frog and a Meaner Cat

Jayne at The Kelly House prompted by Milah from From My Back Porch asks what is on our desktops. On my desktop desktop at home? This mean looking pair:

That garden "ornament" later met with a sad fate . . . involving a hacksaw . . . can you imagine?

The cat continues her fierce and terrible ways.

Friday, February 6, 2009

If you love antiques . . .

. . . and who doesn't love antiques? then you won't want to miss Antique' O' Rama!

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The L.A. Times Covers the Prison Performance

For those who know us and who care, and even for those who don't - this very nice article appeared in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times:,0,5707585.story

Very, very nice. That's all I have to say today.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's Almost Groundhog Day Already!

C'mon people! Don't you think it's about time you packed up the Christmas decorations?

I swear, all the following pics were taken today, Groundhog Eve.

No matter how long you leave the light-up reindeer on the porch, Santa's not coming back to collect him:

And he's not coming for these guys either:

And what's with this sad former nativity scene depicted in plastic? How is it reduced to a lonely St. Joseph and a single Magus?

Where are the plastic Christ Child and the petro-chemical Mary? What's really bugging me is, where the heck are the other Magi?

Maybe they didn't want to stick around to play basketball?