Entries in hall house - library (7)


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.


scenes from an art store and other paint-related adventures

Proof that we totally weren't kidding about the Pepto-Bismol thing.Less than a week until vacation, holy crap! So much to get done, but I'm so excited that the OMG CRUSHING WEIGHT OF IT ALL isn't even stressing me out. Well not much, anyway. And poor Sal...well, he's just got his head down, plowing through this final week and then I expect he'll reward himself with one of his bigger bottles of homemade beer.

I've got another update posted on the work we did two years ago -- this time, the painting in the library. Yep, we finally, finally exchange the heinous pink for a radically different -- radically awesome -- color.

Also, the Lord of the Rings wins all the things.

lunch, black strawberry:

  • two molded eggs, both the star AND the heart
  • roasted yam
  • celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins
  • satsumas and pomegranate seeds as gap fillers

Following an appointment downtown last night, I took a detour to an art store nearby that I like. As I was browsing, a woman came in and asked the clerk at the counter for advice. Her husband wants to become a painter, she says, but he's never painted before. She wants to get him paints and brushes for Christmas, but isn't sure what to get. Acrylics? Oils? Watercolors?

After some discussion, the clerk helps her figure out that the type of painting her husband wants to try isn't watercolors; more back and forth and she finally settles on acrylics (easier to clean, recommends the clerk). He shows her to a nice starter package that includes a good set of paints in a nice wooden case that can hold 9"x11" canvases. She wants everything her husband needs to get started, so the clerk smartly loads her up with gel medium, gesso, brushes, canvases, palette knife, and an easel. Dude is gonna be set.

The whole time, I'm quietly amused as I listen to the conversation (they were loud, I wasn't eavesdropping), imagining the husband and his newfound passion for painting. I'm thinking how sweet that his wife wants to encourage this new interest and what a nice Christmas gift he's getting under the tree this year. And I can't help but wonder: just what has prompted the sudden desire to be a painter?

I'm behind her at the checkout counter so while the clerk is adding things up, I motion toward all the supplies and say, "That will make a really nice gift. I'm sure your husband will be thrilled." She smiles and agrees, saying that he's always been hard to shop for so it's nice to finally have something really special to get him. I take the opportunity to ask my question: "So what prompted his interest?"

She grimaces, then laughs a little. "Well you know, they've been showing that guy on PBS again, and I think my husband just got inspired to give it a try."

"Oh, Bob Ross? I'll bet he's inspired a lot of people like your husband. That's pretty cool."

"Yeah, but if he starts talking about 'happy little trees', I'm having him committed."


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.


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



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.