a very newsy update

the scraped, primed and painted ceiling and walls of the guest room, the source of all my sweat equity efforts

I can’t fault writer’s block for my recent absence from the blogosphere. I’ve had several ideas that fell the wayside or were condensed into 140-character tweets. But fear not, I’m still here, thinking the same snarky thoughts.

I do feel like I should wrap up some loose ends, given how many questions and comments I get on previous posts. So for those who haven’t been sleeping at night wondering how my turkey came out or if I found a new purse, here are some updates to whet your appetite for more posts to come. Trust me, I have a lot on my mind that I want to share.

In no particular order, fall foliage. It’s gone. I’m no longer lounging under the brilliant canopy of autumn-hued trees. It was a spectacular fall, the best in my memory, and I hope fall 2011 is the new norm for the years to come.

My turkey. If you read my post, then you know I was poised to host Thanksgiving for the first time ever, and I was seeking turkey recipes. Thanks to all who submitted their favorites. I used the version submitted by my friend Stephanie, who has used it ten years running, although every year, her mother-in-law still declares, “why Stephanie, I didn’t know you could cook!” Now, my bird did not come out as juicy as Stephanie promised, but that’s my fault for screwing up the weight-time conversion and leaving it in the oven a little too long. Regardless, Colin ate both drumsticks and there weren’t as many leftovers as one would think given we were five adults, five kids and two turkeys (yes, someone didn’t trust me and brought their own).

A new fall/winter purse: There’s still no new handbag dangling off my arm, though I have test-run many models. The favorite thus far is my friend Emily’s purse, but even though she lives in Chicago and we have owned the same bag before, I am hesitant to click purchase. A big Kate Spade sale after Christmas and continued ennui with my current bag might cure me of that though.

The Sweat Equity Challenge: No, I did not end up tackling a household project every week between September 18th and Thanksgiving, but I did do eight weeks worth of projects in about a 5-day period, which explains why I still have repetitive stress disorder in both arms (I’m an ambidextrous scraper/painter). The lesson learned: next time hire someone to do the work or find a boyfriend who is handy around the house.

My fall wardrobe refresh: In October, I took advantage of a 25% off J. Crew sale to purchase some new staples for my fall wardrobe. What a bust. First of all, I kid you not when I say each of the five items I ordered was shipped separately. Secondly, I ended up returning everything except the pencil skirt in harvest tweed. The camel sweater was not the right shade (nor was the blouse) and the plum capri pants looked like pajamas. The red pants, which I had high high hopes for, weren’t lined and it took 15 seconds of standing in front of my mirror before the itching began.

So that is pretty much my life to date. Stay tuned for my musings on Santa Claus, Christmas lists, and of course, my upcoming birthday.

December 17th for those who don’t have their calendars marked.

the sweat equity challenge, week 2

welcome to the mommy cave

Admit it. You didn’t think I would actually keep up my own challenge to myself. But I did. In spite of the fact that I had the kids this weekend, and that they were determined to help, and that the project I had in mind (again) involved paint, we got it done.

The room affectionately referred to as “the playroom” doesn’t really see a lot of play time. But it does house a number of the boys’ toys. It’s nice to have a room that I can throw all their crap into the weeks that they are with their dad. But this room, in its current state, feels a little like wasted space, and I have had it in my mind that I would like to de-emphasize the “play” and enhance the prospects of this room serving as a sort of office-slash-reading-room-slash-home-office.

Step one was to weed out the broken and long-ignored toys, chucking those that don’t work and donating those ready to move on to a new household. That step of the project absolutely has to be done when the kids aren’t home because there’s nothing more likely to compel a kid to find a new favorite toy than to threaten you are giving it a new home. So I had undertaken this step a few weeks ago when weeding out toys was a better alternative to whatever else it was I should have been doing.

As for step two, if you have painted a room before then you know how time consuming it can be to prep a room. And let’s just say that these next steps (cleaning, taping, tarping, preparing tools) were made all the more painful when every ten seconds a kid asked, “can we paint now?”

But we got the room cleaned, taped and covered in a drop cloth in less time than it would have taken me to do it alone. (Jack is a master with the blue tape.) I was still a little nervous about letting them paint, but of all the rooms for them to “help” in, I figured it was this one, the one room with carpet, carpet that will (on a more ambitious day) be removed and replaced with bamboo flooring.

As it turns out, Jack is quite the master painter. He is a little heavy handed with the amount of paint he puts on his brush/roller, but then again so am I. Colin, as I suspected he would, gave up after one wall and instead focused on keeping the kittens out of the room while we worked. Everyone has to have a job.

When we were done, the kids quickly proclaimed their love for this room. Of course, at this point I had been envisioning it as sort of a mommy cave, where mommy friends and I will drink wine when our kids have co-opted the living room to watch a movie. But regardless of who is using it when, it felt good to cross another item off my to do list.

If only Jack hadn’t felt the need to cut the paint out of his hair. Next step, schedule kid haircuts.

the sweat equity challenge

https://i2.wp.com/www.kldrywall.com/images/textures_acoustic.jpgIt all started with a hurricane and peeling textured ceiling paint in the guest room.

The textured ceiling paint was not peeling as a result of Hurricane Irene; no, it was gratis the previous harry homeowner, or maybe two harry homeowners ago. who made a number of sloppy sweat equity decisions back in his ownership days. When my brother Nathan (a professional) was here refinishing my downstairs bathroom, he checked out the peeling ceiling for me, reported that it was the result of the person who applied said textured paint without sanding or priming ahead of time.

“Even you can remove it easily,” he assured me.

Since I mostly keep the guest bedroom door closed though, it was really out of sight, out of mind. But then we were stranded in the house without power, and I needed something to do that didn’t involve electricity. Since I love to peel, be it sunburns, beer bottle labels or old wallpaper, a little light bulb went off in my brain. Surely textured ceiling paint would provide the same satisfaction.

Six hours later, I was barely a third of the way done and it was getting dark. A few more hours the next day did not yield much more progress. I have found oddly that letting the ceiling “rest” helps loosen some of the tougher spots. I’m not done yet, but I am determined to finish it soon. By next weekend. Or next month. At least by the next time I have guests.

All this Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor work got me to thinking, why not take on one project a weekend, no matter how small, between now and Thanksgiving. It isn’t like there’s a shortage of work to be done around my old house. This weekend I was ambitious; the ceiling continues to be peeled during my “breaks” from other activities, namely applying a fresh coat of paint (or three) on the backside of the kitchen door and stairwell that leads to the basement. Other jobs on my personal honey do list: painting the exterior backdoor; replacing some ceiling tiles in the basement; converting the playroom into an office-homework station; power-washing the side of the house; and well, I will stop there or my friends will be scared to come over lest I put them to work.

I could hire someone. But let’s be honest, there is plenty of work on that list too. (I don’t do electrical. Or pipes. Or floors.) So why not test my homeowner skills on this easier set of tasks and realize some immediate progress? After all, I at least can meet my own cost estimates and I guarantee myself I will get the job done in the time I have available.

Break’s over. Back to the ceiling.