Entries in hall house - guest room & studio (14)


hall house update, with a bit of astoria thrown in for good measure

I'm getting back on track with catching up some things on the site. Including, yes, the library and guest room/studio projects. The next phase from a few years ago is now posted:

Library, Part 06: Installing Hardware

Guest Room & Studio, Part 06: Installing Hardware

Also, I'm working on a backlog of pics from trips and getaways from the last several years. Recently added: our little getaway to Astoria about three and a half years ago, in which we stayed in a delightful B&B, actually climbed to the very top of the Astoria Column (yes, all 165 steps of it), checked out bakeries and pubs from Sal's "must do" list, and spent an entire afternoon at the fascinating and incredible Columbia River Maritime Museum. I'm really not kidding about that, by the way. I've been to my share of museums of all sorts, and I can honestly say it's one of the best I've ever been to. The exhibits are well-done, engaging, and informative, they have an amazing, amazing plethora of items, and even though the topic sounds dry and uninteresting, you will come out with a newfound love (and appreciation) for all things Columbia River Maritime-ish.


vacation's all i ever wanted

Hello, internets!! I have returned, you may rejoice! Or roll your eyes, that works, too.

So vacation is officially over and I am officially depressed. (not really) Nineteen days away from work is really the bestest invention ever and should be something I do every month. Ha ha, I kid. (no really, nobody fire me, kay?) The downside of nineteen days of vacation is the coming back part, which is decidedly not part of the bestest invention ever, but I knew that going into it, so.

yes, it's really a screenshot of my Inbox (we don't count the Sustainability folder since it's all from automated online mailing lists)But you know what else is also not the funnest thing ever invented? THE TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN EMAIL MESSAGES WAITING IN MY INBOX THIS MORNING. Jesus H, people! Email in the workplace is srsly of the devil. I suppose I should be grateful(!) that I was gone when many people were also gone for various lengths of time for the holidays, because holy buckets I would not even want to contemplate the horrors. I'm hoping that half of that will be variations on "hey everyone I will be gone for the next 3/5/whatever days so long losers" and "oh yay vendors have brought holiday treats don't trample each other on the way to the kitchen" and thus deleted with no further effort. I AM VERY OPTIMISTIC IN THIS WAY. I kind of don't know yet how bad it is because I am feeling particularly avoidant today and thus haven't delved too deeply. Well, and I had meetings from the moment I walked in the door until, well, right now. Let's see, lunch or cleaning out my inbox...hmmm....

So, vacation! Was, as I mentioned, totally badass! It was a little more hectic at the start than either of us would've preferred due to some scheduling obligations, but nothing too traumatic. Things That I Did On My Vacation: A Thesis:

  • completed the creative room, woot woot! (now renamed officially to the studio, except on the web pages here because it would break all the links and I don't feel like fixing them all)
  • created our little hearts out in our creative room studio, woot woot! and left projects half-done, and all our stuff out, and it's totally okay because it's not in the middle of the kitchen or the living room and the cats can't get into any of it to chew on things and barf them back up and just generally yay for dedicated creative spaces!
  • did some writing on Book 2 in the new creative room studio; also, at the coast
  • made some way awesome presents for the homemade Christmas with our Smiley family, as mentioned in the last post (and yes, I still owe a write-up and pics of that...coming soon!)
  • finished Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which makes me sad because ye gods and little fishes that show is goddamn freaking awesome and joins the list of great shows that died too soon and I may now be madly in love with John Connor and his almost-human Summerbot and also also ALSO Sarah Connor the mother of us all and Derek Reese of the Reese clan and omg Shirley Manson still a Scottish badass and also in addition I need to see more John Henry playing D&D oh woe why why why was this show cancelled
  • went to the movies (saw Voyage of the Dawn Treader but still haven't seen Tangled so we're hoping we can fit it in next weekend before it's gone from the theaters)
  • played utterly ridic amounts of Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Wii; in other news, we are hilariously behind on gaming trends (hahaha as if we have ever been up-to-date on gaming anything, we are srsly 124 years old)
  • got my website clients updated for January (those who sent me their updates, anyway) -- not really a vacation-y thing, but a considerable accomplishment considering my general attitude throughout vacation was "if it looks like work, then I'm not doing it, damn it"

a winter storm raged like a banshee the entire time we were at the coast, and of course the morning we left, it looked like this

  • spent four quite glorious days at the Oregon Coast
  • went out to eat at a new restaurant (Tasty & Sons); well actually, two, since we tried out Little Big Burger for the first time, as well
  • went to brunch on Alberta -- hahaha Tin Shed on any day of the week what was I thinking trying to get in for brunch? god bless Alberta's many coffee shop alternatives or we would have been hungry and thus cranky otherwise -- and then to Collage with Sal and managed not to buy everything in sight
  • started (finally) Wheel of Time: The Towers of Midnight and spent much happy time curled up with a satisfactorily heavy book either at the coast with a terrifically ferocious storm raging outside or at home in my terrifically cozy library; also, I have an addiction to adverbifying adjectives
  • slept in...like, a whole lot
  • did silly time-wasting things like playing an embarrassing amount of Angry Birds on my phone (what I don't even), for which I make no apologies because I freaking PWN that game, dude
  • oh yeah, and spent every available moment with my dear and beloved Sally Bear which was still not enough but way, way more time than we've had together in a long, long while

Our vacation clearly rocked it, I think we can all agree. There were a few things not done that we'd hoped to -- no LOTR marathon this year, unfortunately -- but there's no reason we can't do them anyway. It's going to take some time to get back into the routine of things, and there's always that period of the doldrums following a vacation, but it was worth it. Also, the cats have gotten WAY too used to having our attention practically 24/7 so I expect retaliation when I get home tonight. In other news, we live with terrorists.

And you know, we actually aren't planning to get back into the routine of things. We've long since decided -- and vacation was partly used for the planning of making this happen -- that we need to refocus our efforts on boundaries with the demands on our time versus spending our time in a way that's important to us. That refocus is something you just have to do on a regular basis, that resetting of boundaries, and we just haven't had a chance to catch our breath long enough to do it. So we did. Will. Are.

New Years' Resolutions? Nay nay, for we do not believe in them! Instead, these are Our Goals That Just Happen To Coincide With The Beginning Of A New Year No They Are Not Resolutions Shut Up. Anyway, 2011 will hopefully be a good year, better than 2010 was and it better be a damn sight better than 2009 or I'll demand a refund because holy crap, 2009 sucked it.

Anywhoodle, I'm back to work, back to posting, back to catching up on the past house projects so I can post on the creative room studio project, back to folding laundry and doing dishes and other illusions of responsibility, but in a new and revised format in which responsibilities and obligations get a portion of the pie than they were getting prior to vacation.

I'm also back to bentoing. I missed doing it, and I didn't. It was nice being all free spirit-y and lackadaisical about mealtimes and such, but I sure enjoy my pretty packed lunches, lo they give me great joy, Charlie Brown. Still, it's good to take a break sometimes, just so it stays fun and enjoyable instead of becoming another obligation, non?

lunch, Paris slimline:

  • jasmine rice with a stripe of peas
  • orange sections and Rancho Royale apple slices
  • Sal's custom blend of flavored nut mix (part of his homemade Christmas gifts)

special treat, cute animals sidecar:

  • sugar cookies Sal made for me last night as a special treat for my first day back to work, which he presented to me as bento animal cookies I KNOW RIGHT HE MADE ME HOMEMADE ANIMAL COOKIES HE WINS ALL THE AWARDS IN EXISTENCE

lol somewhat homely bento I maybe didn't put much effort into it. The protein part of the equation is a tad, um, lacking, but whatever, it's still a bento and it's still one more meal I'm neither skipping nor resorting to less healthy means for.


boxing day

a sneak peek at the much talked about creative room; or, a pic in which the kitties prove that they do in fact own every room in the houseI have the "Christmas Time is Here" theme from Charlie Brown Christmas running through my head. I was never a fan of that soundtrack when I was a kid, but it's one of my favorites for Christmas now. (It also contains the only version of 'O Tannebaum' I have ever liked.) I love the introspective, melancholic feel of the music, even though I don't feel that way at all. It seems to suit a grown-up Christmas mood more than a kid's; maybe that's why I didn't like it then and love it now.

We've had quite a vacation so far. We finished the creative room a week ago Friday, amidst other obligations -- including an evening dinner party down in Oregon City -- and have been spending pretty much all our time since then in there, playing. I need to finish updating on the work from three years ago and then I'll have posts and pictures about the work we just finished. I'm so excited to show it to you! I have a gazillion pictures, so be prepared.

We've also been to the movie (Voyage of the Dawn Treader) tried a couple new restaurants (Little Big Burger in the Pearl and Tasty & Sons on North Williams), mainlined more of S2 of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, made gifts for each other and Sister and Guy (we exchanged homemade gifts this year), shopped for the Fabulous Miss M, passed new levels of Zelda on the Wii, slept in a lot, and traveled to Salem and back to celebrate Christmas with our beloved Smiley family.

We headed to Salem Friday afternoon, to arrive to a warm house that smelled yummy and smiles and hugs from Sister, Guy, and Miss M. We had seafood chowder for Christmas Eve dinner, then bundled up and headed to their church for the candlelight service. (And oh man, talk about Charlie Brown Christmas...I can never listen to someone reading the traditional passage from Luke without thinking of Linus' KJV reading.) Then it was home again to get Miss M in her jammies and off to bed, set the coffee table with plates of cookies, and relax on the couch to visit. We brought our Wii controllers so we could do a fun foursome of Wii Sports Resort, but just never got around to it. No complaints here...I love just visiting, and especially around the Christmas tree. Guy read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, we shared our favorite Christmas memories, stuffed each others' stockings, and went to bed waaaay too late.

Christmas morning was opening our stockings, then breakfast of egg dish (a traditional casserole-type dish from Sister's family), orange sweet rolls and pecan sweet rolls (all homemade, of course!), and then we opened gifts from under the tree. Miss M was commendably patient for a three year-old, waiting her turn to open packages in between the opening of the homemade gifts among the adults. (More about the gifts in the next post.) After a bit of play, it was time for a much-needed nap for everyone, Miss M to her bed and the adults crashed on the couches and recliner in the living room.

We enjoyed a late afternoon snack-lunch of cold honey-baked ham, cheeses, veggies, bread, and cookies, and watched a couple of the old Rankin/Bass Christmas classics together with Miss M while we ate. (You forget how scary the Abominable Snowman was to you as a little kid until you watch it with another little kid for the first time. Miss M had to check a few times that Sal was still sitting beside her during those parts, in case she needed protection from the monster.) Before we knew it, it was time to head home to be sure the cats hadn't burned the house down, with Sister cramming plastic containers with leftovers for us to take with us and Guy making sure the beer was all packed safely for the trip home, and Miss M refusing to say goodbye because she didn't want us to leave. A good visit all around!

Hobbes is exhausted after a long day of sleepingWe came home to a house still standing and no immediate signs of destruction, which was perhaps the best Christmas gift of all, considering the state we've come home to at times in the past. The kitties were glad to see us instead of refusing to get near us as punishment for being gone, there wasn't a lot of unpacking to be done (we'd packed light and of course there weren't a lot of gifts to be unloaded) so we were able to just kick back on the couch in contented weariness to watch a couple of movies and then go to bed.

So today is a play day, a do-whatever-we-want day, a this-is-an-awesome-thing-about-being-an-adult-because-you-can-do-anything day, and then ProcrastiGirl arrives tomorrow to watch the cats and the house while we head to Oceanside for our winter coast vacation, a much-needed dose of Oregon Coast. It's supposed to be rainy and yucky, which means it will be awesome. The New Seasons grocery delivery arrives later today so we'll have plenty of deliciousness to munch on (along with everything Sister sent with us), we have a couple of shows to marathon, a new book to read, another to write :), and of course wi-fi and our laptops to keep us entertained if we need it (no seriously: what did we do before the internet??) in between walking the beach, visiting Cape Meares, or simply staring out the window at the beauty of waves crashing on the sand. God bless us, every one.


t-minus two days and counting

Vacation begins in two days and it's a race to the finish whether or not Sal and I will drop dead from exhaustion before it gets here. But after this weekend, I like our odds. We worked our tails off but somehow managed a smidgen of R&R in there so we're refreshed for this final stretch. And yesterday was a particularly lovely day. While we both worked (more on that in a minute), we had the radio tuned to the local station that switches to a holiday music format for December and had such a pleasant day together, laughing and singing along. In just a couple of days, we'll have nineteen days of time like that.

My company holiday party was Friday afternoon, and although I couldn't afford the lost time for what I need to get done before I'm gone, it was a welcome respite and loads of fun. Probably the best holiday party we've had in all the time I've been there. We've sure had some doozies so that's saying something. Oh, and I won a $50 Home Depot gift card. Which is kind of funny, since the $100 Home Depot gift card I won at the company picnic bought all those smoke/fire detectors last weekend.

The party finished an hour earlier than scheduled and rather than be the workaholic I'm sometimes accused of being by going back to my office to finish up some things while there were no interruptions, I instead decided to hit Collage finally, after Kim told me about it when we met for coffee last week. I really almost wish she hadn't, because the last thing I (or my bank account!) needed was another terrific art store on my list and within my immediate area. Well of course I spent a ridiculous amount of time there and came out with a ridiculously overstuffed bag of goodies, but what can you do, right?

The dark clouds were just starting to release the flood as I was headed up the stairs to my front door. We've had some real toadstranglers of late, so it was another in a recent spate of them. I had things around the house to be done, but the perfect weather for being curled up on the couch combined with a week of late nights, I ended up falling asleep watching a movie and I blame the rain. Cue Milli Vanili.

We spent the weekend working on the creative room, getting the painting done and most of the furniture together. Woohoo!! We'll finish up the furniture and putting the room together on Wednesday, then decorate and put things away in the room on Thursday, and by Friday, we should be able to use it. Arty crafty days, here we come!

lunch, blue bunny & moons:

  • hazelnut crusted chicken breast
  • jasmine rice with sweet & sour sauce
  • Honeycrisp apple, celery sticks
  • satsumas

The weather's been positively biblical all weekend. Rain measured in inches, records broken, that kind of thing. AND freakishly warm. Like, high 50s, low 60s. We had to open the windows to air out the house a bit last night -- Sal baked an apple pie (OMG SO MUCH LOVE) and something from a previous meal started smoking in the oven -- and ended up leaving the windows open most of the evening, it was that warm. Torrential rains and unseasonable temps? That kind of wildly erratic weather doesn't bode well. Because, in the words of the venerable Lewis Black, "I know what comes next...



from a distance, we look like paragons of efficiency

Smaug and Hobbes, being their usual productive selves, which is to say IN ABSOLUTELY NO WAY WHATSOEVERProductive weekend, I'm happy to report. Which is a relief because I feel like there's a countdown clock hanging just over my shoulder -- as previously mentioned, I'm taking off the second half of December to coincide with Sal's winter break from school but there is much to be done in the next week and a half. Nonetheless, I feel like a kid looking forward to Christmas, or perhaps the way I did in college: excited to have a breather from the stress and homework and tests, but a shitload of difficult finals to get through first.

It started off on the right foot: not with work, but with fun. Friday, I met up with my friend Kim for coffee (well, hot chocolate, actually) and we spent a few hours catching up and trading info on cool creative things, tools, and new places to spend way more money than we should shop for all the things that make an artist's heart go pitter pat. So it's thanks to her that I was feeling energized enough to focus on website updates when I got home.

So I've completed a few more updates on the guest room and library projects from a few years ago. We're getting into the exciting stuff now, like neato decorative window films and painting the walls at last:

Library, Part 4: Fixing the Window & Wall

Guest & Creative Room, Part 4: Fixing the Windows & Ceiling

Guest & Creative Room, Part 5: Painting the Room

Note that the text is not the same for these posts, nor will they be from here on out.

I hope to have the painting in the library posted tonight; that was a far more dramatic change. It was fun to look through the pictures for these phases of the projects and remember all the little snags and interruptions we had to overcome, but to look at them knowing about the end result and how much we love the outcome. Or to relive the sense of accomplishment when we'd successfully completed a particularly challenging part (wall patch ftw!). One of the reasons I've been documenting all our home improvement (mis)adventures is to be able to go back and see how far we've come and to remember what it took to get to this point. As I've gone back through these pictures to get caught up on these two projects, but with a few years' distance, I'm reminded of all the hard work that went into them and each time I go into those rooms now, I have a renewed sense of pride in them. Also, how thankful I am that we got rid of that heinous pink.

Saturday, we got the paint for the creative room and I did the preliminary work on the aforementioned sooper sekrit project in preparation for (probably) painting this coming weekend. Sal had to do the transfer to secondary fermentation of his latest batch of beer (brewed last weekend). He also fixed the dripping faucets in the kitchen and bathroom, the broken handle on the toilet, and put in much-easier-to-use faucet handles in the utility sink in the basement. His trip to Home Depot for the hardware also included the purchase of nine(!) smoke/fire detectors and two carbon monoxide detectors so that we don't literally die in a fire. So yay, no house-induced death for us!

AND! We spent Saturday evening going through several boxes of papers and mementos that had accumulated in the eave closets, the product of needing to clean in a hurry -- for company, more often than not -- and throwing stuff we didn't have time for into a box "to go through later". Well "later" came Saturday night since I had to drag out some mementos boxes anyway to put away the things from the guest room that had been on display and stored in my old desk. We're not done, but we put a respectable dent in it.

Despite our weekend of industry (or perhaps because of it), the house looks like a wreck, but I should have time this weekend to instill some order. Nothing too catastrophic, thankfully. I do have to wrap up my website clients for the month (statistics analysis, final report, and invoicing), and I expect I'll be working some late nights right up until vacation starts in order to get the end-of-year programming done on the billing program, but at this point, I'm not in freakout mode. The fact that I'm still thinking I can fit in housework in the evenings indicates that I'm in not-yet-overwhelmed-but-possibly-a-tad-optimistic mode. Don't try this at home, kids.

And just to round out the list of accomplishments for the weekend, I got a breakfast AND lunch packed for today. I've been away from bento for a couple of weeks and I'm feeling it. There was the week of the holiday, of course, and I worked from home in the days leading up to it so no bento. Last week was occupied by visits from Corporate (the COO on Tuesday and one of the members of the Corporate IT Team at another division on Thursday) so I either was too busy in preparation to even get a drink of water (Monday) or joining them for lunch (Tuesday and Thursday). So again, no bento.

It's a testament to how little I go out for lunch, how infrequently I eat at chain restaurants, and how accustomed I am to my bentos that I didn't feel well at all last week. The restaurants were decent as chain restaurants go, but nothing about the meal felt good. Way too much food (I ended up leaving most of it on the plate, unfortunately, and I absolutely hate waste), much too heavy (even though I ordered a salad!), and the fruit and veggies didn't have as much flavor as I'm used to. Yes, I fear the worst has happened: I've become a food snob. :) I think in the future when I inevitably have to go for these Corporate lunches, I'll plan to pack a bento anyway to eat before/after and just order a small side of something for lunch.

Anyway, it's a relief to be back to a bento schedule. As I was packing today's, I initially felt a little rusty, like I was getting back on a bike after being away for awhile. Once I was done, I felt the familiar sense of comfort and assurance that I have something to eat tomorrow that I know will be good for me, that won't make me feel like chugging a bottle of Pepto afterward, and that gives me enough energy to get through the day. I know I go on and on about the wonders of bento and the difference it's made to my well-being, but I just can't overstate it enough.

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • satsuma mandarin
  • red grapes
  • plain yogurt with a dollop of marionberry preserves


lunch, deli club:

  • chicken that Sal made for dinner Sunday -- he tucked slices of lemon under the skin and roasted it
  • roasted potates (olive oil, salt, pepper)
  • kiwi slices and red grapes
  • satsuma mandarin and the last of the dark chocolate covered raisins

Oh how I love the satsumas. Sal came home from the grocery store Saturday night bearing an entire box of them for me. I'll probably give myself a rash of canker sores from eating as many as I possibly can while they're in season, but it'll be worth it.


we have color!

We've just returned from the paint store with the paints for the creative room. We're keeping the wall color, we'll just be...ah...complementing it with a few more. Behold:

clockwise from top: Pink Explosion, Cut Velvet, Wonder Woods, Au GratinThey're not quite as vibrant in this pic as in person, nor does the image do justice to the creamy pale yellow of the wall color, but close enough for horseshoes and handgrenades, as my dad used to say.

We've got some organizing and putting-away to do this weekend, and a preliminary project that's sooper sekrit (not really), so we won't be painting quite yet. Probably next weekend, though!


for home and hearth and ever-giving hand

pumpkin pie made by Chef Salvatore; you can't see it well in the pic, but the banners say "Hall" and "Smiley", respectively

Thank ye the gods, O dwellers in the land,
For home and hearth and ever-giving hand.

     -- excerpted from "The Seeker in the Marshes" by Daniel Lewis Dawson

Wow, a week since the last post? Where does the time go?

Well, into the busy activity of the holidays, obviously. Not that we get too wound up in the holidays per se, and we are staunch supporters of the stay-in-your-pajamas-all-day tradition of celebration, but even a relaxed holiday is a change of routine that can turn things upside down a bit.

Uncle Sal and Miss M clearly making up for lost timeThankfully, Guy and Sister both subscribe to the same celebratory philosophy, which meant that our family Thanksgiving was delightful and fun with none of that pesky stress nonsense that no one needs anyway. We ate a ridiculous amount of food, visited and laughed and played, took naps, ate some more, watched a bunch of Friday Night Lights (which they loved, because hello, awesome), and ate some more. (Cute moment of the holiday: when they arrived Wednesday night and Miss M was eating a bit of dinner before bedtime, she asked Sister, "Where's Uncle Sal?" Sister explained he was at work and wouldn't be home until after she was in bed but he would see her the next morning. To which Miss M asked, "Why isn't he here to play with me?")

Before they left Friday, Guy very graciously helped move the guest room furniture (my old bedroom set) to the basement where it will be stored until Miss M is ready for it*. Getting the room cleared out was important to getting started on the work in that room, since we pretty much can't do anything until the room is emptied out. We don't have to completely repaint the room, thankfully, but we are going to be doing some painting, and of course putting up new furniture and decorations.

*Miss M thinks of the guest room as hers, since she sleeps there when she stays the night. She (and we) call it her room. So we were a tad concerned what the reaction would be when we started dismantling it. Sister kept her occupied in the kitchen as we started taking the bed apart, but the jig was up when Guy passed through on the way to the basement carrying the headboard and footboard. Which elicited an alarmed cry of "You broke my bed!" from Miss M and sent her scurrying to the guest room to find the other furniture already dismantled and ready to hauled downstairs. "What did you do to my room?!" she asked anxiously. But the opportunity to run and slide across the now wide-open wood floor seemed to ease her distress.

Saturday, we spent a wonderful few hours with ProcrastiGirl, enjoying a quick brunch before catching a matinee showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. The three of us seeing the newest Harry Potter installment at the theater has become something of a tradition; it'll be sad when we'll do it for the last time this summer. We enjoyed the movie, especially the animated "Three Brothers" sequence in the middle. (If you've seen it, you know why.) But I think my favorite part was a scene when Harry tells Hermione, "You're brilliant, Hermione," and she replies, "No, I'm just highly logical with an ability to see past the extraneous details." At which point, ProcrastiGirl and Sally patted each of my knees from either side as a way to say, "Yep, that's our Bitty", and then we all started whisper-giggling. I am, apparently, the Hermione.

After we said goodbye, we figured it was late enough in the day to brave the holiday weekend hordes at IKEA, who were hopefully dissipating enough to not chew our faces off like starved zombies while we gathered the numerous flat packs of furniture we'll need for the creative room. I compiled this list after many hours of careful research and measurement and...yes, I admit it, some 3-D modeling with Google Sketchup. Shut up. Okay, go ahead and mock me, but it meant that we could make a beeline for the warehouse area make a list of the aisle and bins for each of the items on our list, and load up the three pallet carts with our various flat packs, all in the space of about 45 minutes in the midst of a only-slightly-diminished-from-peak-shopping-hours swarm of people. The checkout line was long and the wait at the delivery reservation desk, too, which is why our total trip was about an hour and a half, but considering it was 20 minutes there and back, that's pretty darn efficient.

just a glimpse of the stack of boxes full of furniture waiting to be assembled...Even though we won't start the project for two more weeks, we wanted to get the IKEA trip out of the way as soon as possible since the crowds will only get worse the close we get to the holidays. And, we figured if there was a waiting list for having things delivered, we'd have plenty of time. Turns out, however, that they prefer to get deliver sooner rather than later so they don't have to store stuff, so we ended up having our stuff delivered first thing Sunday morning. Good thing the room was already emptied out! Otherwise, there wouldn't have been anywhere to put all those big, heavy boxes.

So the guest room has been emptied of old furniture, with a few odds and ends to be put away still, and there is now a big stack of furniture-to-be occupying the middle of the room. I'll make a trip to the paint store this week for the bit of paint we'll need and we may even get a head start this weekend and next. Which means...it's coming together!

Guess I'd better hurry up and finish updating the guest room and library renovations. So here, have the next installments: scraping the trim! Oooh, exciting!

Guest & Creative Room, part 3: scraping the trim

Library, part 3: scraping the trim

This is another case of the text for both being the same but the pictures are different so be sure to at least check out the two different picture galleries. (Future phase updates will have different text for each, since the projects began to diverge after this point even though they were done at the same time.)

I have the pictures done for the next couple of phases but haven't yet done the write-ups; hopefully those will be up in the next couple of days so keep an eye open.


these memories we make, these bonds we forge

Had the best, best weekend. Sister arrived Friday evening for one of our famous Girls' Weekends, in which much sleeping in is accomplished, much delicious food is consumed, much conversation is shared, much laughter is heard, and much fun is had.

While eating pizza in our PJs Friday night, we caught up on our most recent goings on, squee'd about the creative room, talked excitedly about decorating ideas for the Fabulous Miss M's room when the time comes to give her my old furniture and convert it from a nursery to a little girl's room, and rounded out our healthy meal of pizza with big bowls of Tillamook Mudslide ice cream. As one does.

She got a Droid X for her birthday in August, so I showed her some neat features and applications she hadn't yet discovered on her awesome new tricorder phone. Including Swype, which I seem to be on a personal mission to evangelize about because hello, it is brilliant. We practiced with it by texting and Google Talking until a late bedtime.

We got up late (a real luxury for her!) and were treated to a brunch of potatoes O'Brian thanks to Chef Salvatore. We'd had some different ideas for how to spend our day, including knocking around with a bit of window shopping followed by a spot of lunch someplace. But since it was drizzly and foggy out, we opted to stay in and do arty crafty things in our comfy clothes. Which was lovely, because it gave us some time to really visit and enjoy just being together. (I mean, we obviously would've done that no matter what, but it was nice to do so without any other distractions.) We both love that kind of gray, misty weather, which is why we're sisters, because we both understand that the proper thing to do in such weather is to be cozy and have fun.

I worked in my art journal while she made a card for a friend's birthday, then worked on a neat little collage piece for herself (that I unfortunately forgot to snap a pic of). When we were done, we weren't quite ready to quit playing with art supplies, so we played around with watercolors and crayons for a bit and then markers and pens. Grand fun all around.

We headed to New Seasons to get nummy smorgasbord-type items for the evening's activity of movie watching. By eight o'clock, we were snuggly ensconced on the couch in our PJs with blankets and cuddly cats, the coffee table spread with more food than two people could possibly eat (though we were going to do our best to put a big dent in it). We hugged and kissed Sally goodbye (who was off to meet a friend at the neighborhood bar for drinks) and then proceeded to watch Auntie Mame (the Rosalind Russell version, of course!), which Sister had never seen. I KNOW RIGHT. Obviously, that tragedy had to be corrected. And then we started her indoctrination into Pushing Daisies. She loved it, which I knew she would, and is well on her way to another fandom that we can share.

We slept in again this morning, and again were treated to brunch made by Chef Salvatore (omelets this time), which we ate while squeezing in one more episode of Pushing Daisies before she had to go. Goodbye came too soon, but it was so, so wonderful to get to spend some quality time together and we're very thankful to Guy and the Fabulous Miss M (and Sally!) for making these Girls' Weekends possible.

So it's back to the grindstone today with many urgent tasks needing to be done. Aren't Mondays always like that? Mine are, at any rate.

lunch, Ms. Bento:

  • garden vegetable soup
  • rainbow carrot sticks, hard boiled egg wrapped in a French sorrel leaf, honey peanut butter in the cup for dipping the carrots and apple
  • Pinova apple slices, dark chocolate covered raisins

Also, I posted the next round of entries about the work we did on the library and guest & creative room. Because both write-ups were about refinishing the floors, the text is the same for both but the pictures obviously aren't.

guest & creative room, part 02: refinishing the floor


library, part 02: refinishing the floor



decorating my nest with bits and bobs and shiny things

Planning and preparation continues apace for the creative room project. I've been spending ridiculous amounts of time on Etsy, ordering handmade treasures for our new room to make it a place of joy and inspiration and creativity. Little packages arrive on my doorstep every few days, and it's become such a lovely thing to come home to, some little package from someplace far away specially wrapped with a little extra thank-you surprise tucked in. My most recent package arrived Monday from Norway, a small packet of a thing that was wrapped beautifully by an artist whose love for what she does shows in her painstaking attention to even the smallest detail, like the illustration scrolled around the return address on the envelope. It makes me want to keep ordering things as a regular state of being, just for the sheer delight of it all. My adamant anti-consumption-ism be damned.

And there are other special treasures that I've gathered for some time now, waiting for me to unpack them and discover them anew. Altogether, it may sound like there will be a lot of clutter and things to dust, but no. Altogether, there will only be just the right amount of things. Altogether, just enough to make it a reflection of us. Me, mostly, but us, too.

As requested, I give you the various prizes of my recent Etsy spending spree. Well, spending sprees, if I'm being completely honest. I, um...may have given in to a list of long-held wants. I don't buy things often, certainly not things for myself, so I'm telling myself it's okay. That I'm supporting individual artists in a sustainable form of commerce. That it's just this one thing, that's all, and then I'll stop. I can quit any time I want, really.

Oh, the dangers of addicition...

It all started with the hunt for a unique pencil cup for my desk. I've long been on the hunt for something that was special and different and fun and handmade. This one fit the bill perfectly:

Unfortunately, my case of The Wants turned into a full-blown fever. I have things for this room already, carefully tucked away. But perhaps it would do no harm just to look for a few more things? Things I've been seeking for awhile for this room, that I've pictured in my mind when I envision it? It couldn't hurt to look, could it?

Oh, how naive I was.

My vision included a big letter "B" to sit on top of a cabinet or shelf. I love decorating with words and letters. Such a surprise, I know. What I saw in my mind was some wonderful cut-out letter, or something delightfully knocked-about and weathered from an old sign, perhaps. It wouldn't have to be a "B", necessarily, since one cannot be choosy when it comes to random letters reclaimed from old signs. But if I found something that didn't cost a ridiculous amount of money, then perhaps...?

There were several that fit the bill, ones made and ones reclaimed, and happily, a great one that was made to look reclaimed. And a "B", no less! AND! They were happy to oblige when I asked for it in dark turquoise instead of gray (shown here):

And speaking of decorating words, how about this oh-so-appropriate sign/decoration for Sal's creative area in the room?

I was on a roll with no intention of stopping by that point. Such a worrisome turn of events! What more could I find to fulfill my envisioned little room? It became a challenge, a sort of treasure hunt -- how many items from my imaginary list could I find? This is never a good sign.

Because I have a thing for stars and suns and moons, I wanted some rusty metal stars hanging from a shelf support or sitting on the door lintel. So imagine my delight when I came across someone in Nebraska who was selling rusty metal stars made from the roof of her great great grandfather's barn (built in 1912) after it was dismantled. Don't you just love stories like that? I do. I got a small one and a large one:


Oh how I love those rusty metal stars. So when I found another one made from vintage ceiling tin, I had to have it, too:

And there was the artwork. So much I would love to have, and so many Etsy artists I adore! One of my favorites is located in Norway, and she has so many pictures I want that I simply couldn't decide. But alas, my poor checking account! I couldn't afford to buy all that I wanted in the larger sizes, especially with the cost of international shipping. But! She offers postcard prints of her work, and in packs of 3, no less. Huzzah! I thought to myself, Wouldn't they look so sweet in small frames, sitting on narrow shelves with a few other favorite little things? A sign that the Universe wants me to have them, surely! It was still hard to decide which pack to pick, but I consoled myself that I will absolutely can always order others later. I settled on the pack that included a print of one I wanted in a larger version, the one with the little girl who's floated up into the air so that only her blue-stockinged legs can be seen:

Oh, and the photographs! So many of books, of overstacked bookshops and battered typewriters and other writerly sorts of subjects! How to choose?

There was one photographer in particular who had so many photos of so many subjects in such a lovely, aged vintage-y way that I could fill walls and walls with his framed photos. But I do not have walls and wall on which to hang them. And there are other things that I also love which must find space on those walls and walls I do not have. Such a quandary!

But The Wants care not for my quandary of walls and things to hang on them. I found pictures for Sal that I knew he'd love and would be a piece of him in this room and would fit in with everything else, too. Oh dear, but so expensive, even limiting myself just to the two I knew he'd love the most, nevermind all the ones I could choose for me. But this crafty photographer, you see, he anticipated such a dilemma. He offered a special -- a package of any 4 prints from a specific selection upgraded to a 12"x12" size for a significantly reduced price. Be still, my heart. You sure have to look out for those cunning artists and their plan to fill your home with so many wonderful things! And the two prints for Sal were available in the selection, as were my two favorites. So I couldn't really pass it up, could I? It would be like kicking karma in the shins. I couldn't do that to karma. I dutifully ordered, two for me, two for him. Hmmm...I wonder which is which?



I had sworn off more purchases, though there were still so many I wanted mightily. Wait to see what space you have left, I told myself. You don't want to clutter up the room, after all. And you already have a nice collection of things you've been saving up for awhile. And you'll want space to hang your own creations. No need to be greedy. Remember your mantra about consumption? Besides, your account could use a rest. This fiscal irresponsibility is so unbecoming!

But then I found Elly MacKay. I spent an hour or more just looking through her portfolio. Her process is amazing and her images capture something...magic. I read her blog and a bit about her fascinating, inspiring life. I looked through her portfolio again. The little boy with the whale. The little girl making shadow puppets. The little boats at the edge of a waterfall. The little girls doing crane poses. I showed them to Sal. He fell in love, too. A sign, surely, that I needed to order just this one more thing? How I picked which one, I have no idea. I want them all. But I did decide on one, and I can't wait to see how it will look in my room of inspiration and creativity.

There are other artworks sitting in my shopping cart, just waiting for me to click "Checkout". I'm hoping for the fortitude to resist pressing that button. We'll see if I can restrain myself.


remembering our accomplishments, one step at a time

As promised this weekend, I've begun posting write-ups and picture galleries of the work we did a couple of years ago on the library and guest (& creative) room. It's been interesting looking back through pictures and remembering all the work that went into those rooms. And a challenge to remember the particulars, the hang-ups and obstacles and delays. Which is why I've been documenting our home improvement projects here, so we'd have a record of all the work that went into it. Note to self: that record is much more complete when you don't wait three years to write it down.

Anyway...part 1 of each of the projects (basically the "before" pictures) is now up for your reading pleasure and entertainment:

guest & creative room, part 1: getting started

library, part 1: getting started

When I wasn't busy skimming through old photos on my computer and trying to remember exactly what we did three years ago, Sal and I managed to fit in an excursion to the Portland Opera for a matinee performance of Hansel and Gretel. One of his co-workers helped cater a function for the opera and received two tickets as a thank you. She wasn't able to go so she offered us the tickets.

After the show, we went for dinner at Pizza Fino in Kenton, and what started as dinner after the show before heading home became a three course meal lasting a few hours. We haven't been out to dinner like that for a couple of months so it was lovely to converse over a wonderful meal in a nice but relaxed atmosphere.

Lunch today consists of Saturday's leftovers, namely chili. Saturday was a series of downpours, some of them downright biblical, so it was the perfect day to break out the crockpot to make that chili I'd been thinking about last week. It's probably the best chili I've ever made so I'm glad that we made a huge batch.

lunch, Ms. Bento:

  • chili: chili and kidney beans, several red and green peppers of various degrees of hotness and sweetness, onions, garlic, tomatoes, beef, seasonings of spicy deliciousness, with a garnish of (melted) cheese cubes
  • small mixed green salad, with radishes and rainbow carrots and a small container of dressing tucked in
  • Honeycrisp apple
  • orange cheesecake made by Chef Salvatore

Unrelated to anything, other than being cool news on an otherwise ho-hum Monday, I see that scientists have successfully created a "mini big bang" at the LHC.  How indescribably cool is that? (It'll take weeks (months? years?) to analyze the data, but one of the things they hope to find is evidence of the Higgs boson particle, otherwise known as "the God particle" (despite scientists' preference otherwise).) They generated temperatures of ten trillion degrees and created sub-atomic fireballs. Sub-atomic fireballs, you guys! You don't even have to be an astrophysics geek to get excited about that.


the sooper sekrit projekt revealed

I told you I couldn't keep it secret for long. Once I'm taken with an idea, I can't shut up about it to save my life. And in order to save my husband's sanity in the next month leading up to the start, I'm just going to have to blab about it here. That's the whole reason I have a blog/site in the first place: to spread my crazy around a bit, so no single person has to bear it alone.

So, the Sooper Sekrit Projekt is this: we're turning the guest room into a creative room! Well that's not precisely right; it still needs to function as a guest room since we're frequently blessed with friends who visit for extended periods. But we want to make use of that room when we're not hosting guests. We want a room where I can write and be inspired, work on arty crafty things, and where Sally can do the same.

This has been our plan for some time (I've been collecting things for this space for a while), but I wanted to enjoy the guest room as it is for a bit since we only got it done a few years ago (which I still haven't posted here -- more on that in a minute) and we needed to save up for it anyway. And then there's old-fashioned nostalgia...the furniture that's in there is mine from when I was little, and I haven't quite been ready to give it up yet. It'll go to the Fabulous Miss M soon, but until recently I wanted to have it around just a little longer.

As Hall House projects go, this one will be comparatively minor. There's no drywall to hang/tape/mud/texture, no floor to refinish, no trim to strip/sand/paint, no doors to refinish. A few days, with probably some additional hours here and there to wrap things up (since we've learned every project requires unanticipated extra time). There'll be a bit of painting -- the really way awesomely fun kind! -- and lots of furniture to put together and some decorating to do. So, you know. Pretty much my favorite sort of home improvement project.

I can't wait to start and I can't wait to post pictures as we get underway. BUT! I can't very well post about a change to the guest room when I still haven't posted about the renovation the guest room has already undergone. Three years since we did those projects and they're still not updated on the Hall House section of this site! Inexcusable!

So in the runup to starting the creative room project, I'm going to work on getting the posts about the phases of the guest room and library renovations done. I hope to post a project phase each day, give or take, complete with pictures, and I'll link each day's post here so you can see the pictures and read about the trials and tribulations of those transformations.

And of course I'll be posting about the creative room. Because, as I said, I have to spread my crazy around.


high and low, it all evens out

Oh dear. I am deep into the planning on the Sooper Sekrit Projekt, happy as a pig in poo, as an old Australian coworker used to say. I'm like a kid fixated on a new toy -- all other thoughts have been swept from my brain. I am Ralphie and this is my Red Ryder BB gun. It won't stay secret much longer, I can tell you that much. I'm fit to bust with blabbing about it, but I don't want to start too soon for fear of burning you all out on it before we've even begun.

In other, less bouncy news, we decided to let our reservation for the Nissan Leaf go. That's a pretty big disappointment since we've invested a lot of time and a (refundable) deposit into being one of the first owners of this amazing car. Sal's been following the progress on the Leaf for years now, we saw the demo of it at OMSI, we were on the reservation list in the first 5 minutes it opened up, signed up for the pilot program that would allow an auditing agency to track usage and other vectors in exchange for a credit on the charging station installation, have researched all the various incentives and rebates we'd qualify for, and we've been talking to City departments about permits for getting the charging station installed on our sidewalk strip (since it's a right-of-way).

We had our on-site assessment a couple of weeks ago with a representative from the organization that has the grant for the pilot program and then with the contractor who would be installing our charging station. And although they were excited for our participation since we'd be representative of urban dwellers with no off-site parking, the fact that ours is an elevated lot presented a problem. (As we feared.) In order to run the line, they'd have to bore through the retaining wall and do a bunch of additional work to install the station.

So we've had a sinking feeling for the last couple of weeks while we waited for the boring contractor to give us an estimate on drilling through to run the line. We knew it wouldn't be cheap. Would, in all likelihood, be astronomical. And we were right, unfortunately. The estimate came in on Monday: $10,000. And that includes the $1,200 credit for the charging station installation.

Portland is one of six cities participating in a joint federal-manufacturer program to intall charging stations throughout the city. Which means we could take the car to a charging station instead, just like we take our cars to a gas station now. But even though the Leaf has a fast charge option (which is one of the many great things about the car) that only takes 30 minutes, it will only charge 80% on the fast charge (compared to the 6 hours it takes for the regular charge to 100%). Which means it's just not viable for us, at least not right now.

Pretty bummed about that. But we're hopeful that there'll be a solution that works for us in a few years and in the meantime, be glad that the cars we have run well despite being older (the Camry is 10 years old, the Prius is 9 years old), get good mileage, and that we're less car dependent than we've ever been. On the scale of problems to have, this isn't really one.

lunch, Paris slimline:

  • quickie sweet & sour pork: jasmine rice and leftover roast pork drizzled with sweet and sour sauce
  • kale sauteed with garlic
  • molded egg
  • gala apple slices
  • dark chocolate covered raisins

´╗┐This is a classic example of bento being kind of magic. I stood before my fridge last night, wondering what the heck I was going to pack for lunch today besides a hard boiled egg and some apple slices. I had a smidge of jasmine rice leftover from last week's lunch and figured, well, I could include that with some sweet and sour sauce for a bit of flavor. And then I remembered we had some pork roast leftover from this weekend, and ta da! Sweet and sour pork! With the tiny bit of leftover sauteed kale from last week, I soon had a nicely packed bento and good, well-rounded lunch.


the rain to the wind said

I took yesterday off to spend some time on writing and holy crap, did I ever pick a great weekend to do it. We've had the most terrific series of storms rolling through since Friday night, feeding my mood to be curled up at home and be all author-ly. Have we forgotten how much I love bad weather (as long as I'm not in it)? No? Okay, moving on.

Because this weather also makes me ridiculously nest-y, I also spent a hilarious amount of time working on plans for the project I alluded to last week. Which I wouldn't have thought possible, since autumn is already the time when I get downright Martha Stewart anyway, but with a fun and exciting house project on the horizon? Cranked up to eleven, you guys.

Don't worry, I'll spill the beans soon since I won't be able to keep it a secret. But first, I need to get some updates done on this here website about house projects we've completed. So look for more tales of home improvement gone ludicrously awry and pictorial evidence thereof to tide you over until the project gets underway and you'll have a whole new round of entertainment.

lunch, Ms. Bento:

  • pork roast and root vegetable stew -- beets, parsnips, rutabaga, kale, rainbow chard, onions, and tomatoes (we had some produce to use up, in case that wasn't obvious)
  • baked potato with a bit of sour cream and garlic-dill cheese curds
  • orange sections; pears and bananas cooked with cinnamon and brown sugar (a sort of quickie pear-banana sauce) with walnuts for garnish


The rain to the wind said,
'You push and I'll pelt.'
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged--though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.

          — Robert Frost


point me at lost islands*

We're starting another project soon, so I'm all atwitter. Relative to our past projects, it's a small and quick one for us, involving little home improvement (a bit of painting, but not even full-on painting walls or ceiling) and a bunch of purchases in a range from small to biggish. I'm being all mysterious but only because I am such a dork about the big reveal.

Anyway, we're still in the preliminary stages, planning to tackle it over the course of a few days during our winter vacation. I'm so excited! I've actually been thinking about and planning this project for a while (and hence, collecting a few things for it that I've set aside), and then a variety of things coalesced today and bam! I knew that yep, time to start. Woe betide Sal if he were to ever disagree once I reach that event horizon from "thinking about a project" to "okay, so let's get started".

Very excited. I've been ready to get going on this for some time, and because this particular project represents a metaphorical transition (that I'll explain at a later time), being ready to start is representative of more than just being ready to do some painting and decorating. I know none of this makes any sense and I'm talking all around it and being all vague and mysterious, but I wanted to just say, you know, something kinda cool is about to happen and you heard it here first.

lunch, deli club:

  • hazelnut-crusted chicken breast
  • baked potato with butter and sour cream
  • green and royal burgundy string beans
  • rainbow carrots

snack, pink natural lunch:

  • banana that's just a tad on the green side
  • Gala apple
  • green grapes


*yep, still obsessed with that Tired Pony album