Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Goals

OK, so now I should list next year's goals. 
  1. Go back to clean eating for my weight, not my health this time.
  2. Finish guest room.  I've started at least.  I also used drywall tape for the first time in my mom's living room, so I've gotten some practice in for the nasty closet re-do.
  3. Finish all exterior painting and touch-ups.
  4. Use chopped leaves as mulch.  It's just too hard to lug mulch all the way to the backyard.
  5. Landscape in front of the new porch.  The wisteria and the trellis is now gone, leaving a lot of bare space.
  6. Power wash deck and side stairs.
  7. Enjoy all the lovely hydrangeas I planted!
Can't really think of anything else right now.
My sister-in-law says to plant hydrangeas here.  Any ideas?

2014 Goals

I never published this so I thought it would be fun to update it.

1.  Lose more weight.  Start exercising regularly.
2.  Landscape side yards.  I'm so excited about this because it means the entire property will be basically done.  I'm thinking about a small pond on the north side.  Depends on the amount of work.  I want to plant Blue Billow, Bombshell, Limelight, Royal Majesty, and Snowflake hydrangeas.  They would have a northwest exposure.
3.  Finally finish the guest room.  Right now I'm totally stuck with what to put on the floors after sanding them.  Tung or linseed oil?  I know polyurethane wouldn't look good due to their condition.
4.  Finish the last awkward area of painting and the minor touch-ups needed on the exterior.  It'll be nice to finally put a fork in it, y'all!
5.  Finally rebuild the front porch.  Looks like it might be a lot more expensive than I originally thought.
6.  Figure out the front side garden.  It got way overgrown and I moved some stuff to the backyard garden, but I have to rearrange some plants.  It also needs major mulching.
7.  Figure out the wisteria trellis.  I'm thinking I might want to move it once the porch is re-done so I can look at all the money I spent.
8.  Finally finish the doors in the kitchen and stuff left on the punch list.
9.  Finally dispose of tree limbs from storm damage and pruning.

Well . . .  about the only thing that really happened was the porch rebuild.  Once I discovered the broken footing I felt I had no choice but to rebuild.  I was afraid the roof (with the new roofing) would collapse.  The trellis footings didn't hold so it was leaning precariously.  I took it down which made the re-build so much easier, and therefore cheaper.  I dug the holes for the new footings but never got around to pouring the concrete.  It'll be placed at the entrance to the back garden.  I did start the side garden but I don't think a pond is feasible, plus I'm afraid of attracting more wildlife than I already have.  I think families of skunks, woodchucks and racoons is enough, don't you?  Okay, so the racoons were on my neighbors' property, but still!

I did finally paint the front door but haven't put the hardware back on.  My co-worker taught me a saying, "100 percent of my jobs are 90 percent complete."  So true.

I got really caught up in painting the porch so didn't finish up touching up the exterior except for the trim above the porch roof.  I had planned on working on the guest room during vacation but painted my mother's living room for her birthday present.  Many problems ensued, including needing three coats to cover the darkish turquoise color.  She likes gold so I chose Martha Stewart Malted, which I saw in the My Messy, Thrilling Life blog.  Then I got caught up in my nephew's Boy Scout project of painting the window trim on my sister's first floor.  Nothing like having new windows installed that makes everything around it look shabby.  I'm driving that family crazy by insisting that they scrape, sand, fill holes with wood putty, prime and caulk!  
Fleshed-out shade garden.

Carly surveying the pile of branches.
My nephew helped me with most of the branches; there are a few that need to be cut with a chainsaw, which I don't own.

Don't even ask me about my weight, especially after the holidays.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 In Review

Overall, it was a good year.  Family members were relatively healthy - no hospitalizations.  My very bright brother-in-law got a great job and left his long-time position.  My smart niece got a job in her field in September.  My other smart niece bought a cute log-cabin type of house in Massachusetts near the New Hampshire border.  My nephew just moved to a cute rental house and his sister, my niece who got the job, will move into his condominium.  My sister and I are very much looking forward to her move because she'll be closeby.  My brother got a big raise.  Not too bad for one of the worst states in the union.  My nephew got a job as well, in New Hampshire.  I pray it's a good match for him.

On the homefront, I'm getting a new porch floor and framing.  In anticipation of that, I painted the trim and ceiling and bought a new light and house numbers.  We went back to Kennebunk and to Marblehead.  We discovered how beautiful York, Maine is.  We rented a house in June on Cape Code in Hyannis.

We had one of the coldest winters ever, and things didn't really warm up until Labor Day.  It was great not to have that awful heat and humidity.   The fall was beautiful as well.  Even December seems warmer than usual.  It was an okay gardening year.  The hydrangeas took a hit from the cold, and many didn't bloom.  The roses likewise died way back.  Some things were very late, like butterfly bushes.

I extended the shade garden on the north side of the house.  Purple Majesty, Snow Queen and Blue Billow hydrangeas went in, as well as two hostas.  I also planted Nikko Blue and Blue Billow hydrangeas nearby.  In the shrub border I added Blue Bird, Preziosa and Tardiva hdyrangeas.  There'll be a huge hydrangea explosion next summer, hopefully.  I planted Harlow Carr and Midnight Blue roses in the back garden.  Hopefully the deer and woodchucks will leave them alone next year when they hear all the new dogs in the neighborhood.

Things are good, and I am grateful.  Hope things went well for you and pray that your new year is bright, shiny and filled with all good things!

 James 1:17 New International Version (NIV)
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

December 31, 2013

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Day Trip - Stonington, Mystic and Noank

I like to go to Stonington because one of my favorite authors lives on the main drag there.  Alexandra Stoddard, an interior designer, wrote Creating a Beautiful Home, in which she chronicles the renovation of her 1775 "cottage."  She describes it so well that I was able to spot it immediately.

Have you heard of Living a Beautiful Life?  It was her bestseller.  She's all about being present in the moment and intentional in your actions.  The book is divided into sections on eating, dining and bathing in a way to heighten one's senses.  I highly recommend it.

It was a beautiful day; many people were out walking with their dogs, or each other.  We ate at a favorite restaurant, Noah's.  The food, including delicious desserts (my favorite part of a meal), is homemade so dining is leisurely.
Some other houses I love:

Pretty, old-fashioned decorations.

Can you tell the style of house I love?  It's my new favorite; I think it's called Federal style.

We then went to Mystic and Noank.  They both were kind of quiet, which is fine.  Noank is a lovely seaside village in the town of Groton.  Here's what we saw:

Steep road lined with luminarias.

Check out the rooftop dining spot above the wreath in the center.
Pretty, simple decorations.

Another Federal beauty, in Mystic.

As much as I complain about taxes, Connecticut is a truly beautiful state, with many stunning homes.  It has numerous old Colonial and Victorian homes in every part of the state.


On Christmas Eve morning my buddy, Larry the Building Inspector, came for a framing inspection.  He said it looked good and my contractor did a nice job.  Ken had screwed some plywood on top because I complained that I was worried about liability when Julie the neighbor girl came knocking on the door, standing on the bench.  I was also tired of using it to enter with groceries and such.

Here's the framing:
Ken told me he was worried about a heavy snowfall collapsing the porch roof.  He installed screw jacks in place of the boards and will continue to turn it until the roof straightens out.  Apparently it had sunk quite a bit on top of the rotten framing.  Onto the decking, railing and apron.

Please note the painted trim (Benjamin Moore Ice Mist) and ceiling (BM Yarmouth Blue).  Preparing the ceiling for paint became quite a hobby this summer.  Here's the mildew-y before:
I won't be able to paint until spring but I can install my new light and fancy house numbers.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Carly says "God bless us, every one!"
December 2012

Monday, December 22, 2014

Under the Porch

This is the only thing found during construction.
Mother-of-pearl jack knife.  The other blade broke when I tried to pry it out.
Oh, and of course I found a bunch of marbles after the arbor was dismantled.  Plus I found a marble of top of a pile of dirt Ken had dug up with the Bobcat.  I'm now up to 46.
I don't know why I was sure there'd be something cool under the porch.  I was always afraid to reach under there - too creepy.  I'd found marbles along the edge, a 1907 Indian Head penny and a wheat penny whose vintage I can't recall.  (FYI:  Indian head pennies were minted from 1859 to 1909.)  Anyway, no dead bodies.

It's Noisy Here

I'm out of brown sugar so maybe I'll just keep on posting.  Poor Lucy can't finish her breakfast.  She catches a glimpse of the workmen outside the window and scrams.
That's her silver bowl, and Ken outside with a navy blue hat on, on the right.
Carly, on the other hand, sits calmly next to me on the couch in the parlor, ignoring all the noise.

Life Goes On . . . and We Adapt

Carly wasn't going to let the whole "no porch" thing get in the way of her hunting, and gifting.
Her gift is next to her white paw.  It's very, very dead.  Thanks, Carly!

Miscellaneous Stuff

There's kind of a lot going on but I kind of don't feel like going into detail (lack of energy?).  Maybe I'll feel more like it when this stomach virus leaves my system.  I'm actually pretty healthy so when I get sick I'm a big baby.  This time I've been sleeping unbelievable amounts, which is weird since I'm usually an insomniac who is thankful for 6 hours a night.  Insomniacs can get a lot done but they're not always the most happy, optimistic, pleasant people in the world.  Like Martha Stewart.  And yours truly.

Anyway, Carly is enjoying the sun that comes in strong in the front of the house this time of year.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I got sick while no one around me did.  Things have been pretty stressful around here, for all of us.  First, I had to get rid of my wisteria and arbor in anticipation of getting my porch worked on.  Before:
Can anyone date this wisteria?  I'd be sad if it had been planted prior to the '40's.
That's the base.  There was another wisteria at the other corner of the porch but I had cut that way back, and then chopped it off this summer.

It all began when I started painting the trim and ceiling on the porch.  I had planned on just putting lipstick on the old pig but discovered that the metal pipe used as a footing in the front of the porch had rusted and broken in half.  Uh-oh.  So I realized the wisteria had to go, both to gain access for repairs and because the shrubs were too close to properly maintain the porch afterwards.

I was really torn about removing it.  Basically it's  beautiful about two weeks out of the year.  During the growing season it's a constant battle to keep it in bounds.  It had swallowed the arbor.  The arbor was leaning precariously and we couldn't right it.  But I was torn in that it offered a lot of privacy while sitting on the porch.  But I guess I've justified it by saying that I don't want the porch, for which I've gone into debt, to be hidden once it's rebuilt.

Sooooo . . . I came home Halloween night to quite the sight, and site.  My contractor had warned me that when they removed the decking in order to dig the footings, the framing basically fell apart because it was so rotted.  So much for trick or treating from the four new kids next door (they arrived in September).  I brought the candy over to them, not having a porch and all.

On my tiny front lawn there was a Bobcat and large work van parked amongst the roses and hydrangeas.  There was yellow caution tape, and a trailer in my driveway, and one in the parking area used by the house across the street.  Uh-oh, the other new neighbors had told me they were moving in on Halloween.  Bad timing all around.

Here's what was left:
Oh well.  At least it motivated me to paint the front door, which has been primed since last winter, I believe.  It's Benjamin Moore Purple Lotus.  I'm afraid it's too dark for most of the day.  And first on the list when I have some spare cash - new storm doors and shutters.

The poor cats have had to walk a tightrope.  The girls don't like their routine disrupted.  Nor does their mom.

Then the contractors removed the remaining framework and I put a bench under the door because I got sick of going out the walkout basement.  So what do I hear today but a knock on the door, with my 79-year-old mother climbing on it to get inside.  Now you know where I get my spunk (or is it bad judgment?).  She made me so nervous.  She just had a knee replacement a few years ago.  I convinced her to use the back entrance when she left.

Construction makes me so anxious, even though I really like and trust my contractor.  So for now I've found solace in re-reading the story by Steve at An Urban Cottage concerning his porch re-build.  Steve, did you ever post an "after" of the porches?  I can't seem to find them.

Thumbprint Cookies

My cooking really is just for eating purposes, not show.

This is a recipe from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, but I filled them with chocolate ganache (recipe from Martha Stewart) instead of jelly.  Well, two of them have strawberry jam that I had in the refrigerator.  I ate one, just to taste-test.  I was inspired by a wonderful Italian bakery chain in our area called Pasticceria Italia.

For all you cookie bakers:  Why is it that this recipe says it makes three dozen, but I only get about 15?  If I really made them that small, they'd be smaller than my thumbnail.

It's a beautiful day today after some light snow yesterday.  I'm off all week so I'm off to make more cookies while listening to holiday tunes and the sound of workmen framing out my front porch floor.  Hope your Christmas plans are going swimmingly!