Friday, July 31, 2009

I like to cook with wine..

Sometimes I even put it in the food.

The past couple of days have been nothing but putting away boxes. I have a gigantic pile of boxes in the entryway which will go to the recycling center. However, I still cannot say that all the boxes are gone.

Nevertheless I am proud of all the work that has happened. The living and dining rooms are painted. The wallpaper in the dining room, removed with startling swiftness and dexterity by my mother in law, revealed a dense layer of wallpaper glue which took three days to remove. Remove it we did, Goddammit!

And tonight is the first night we actually cooked dinner. Spaghetti. In case you were wondering.

It tasted so victory.

I even put my pretty Pottery Barn napkin rings around the paper towels we are using for napkins. Now that's class.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ho Hobo Oil

So, after ripping up all the carpet I called my mom for advice about getting the floors refinished, and she suggested that instead of polyurethane I tell the floor fellows to use jojoba oil.

Because you know what I want to do, in addition to painting and cleaning everything in the house? Refinish my floors on a weekly basis with stuff that I usually associate with tiny blue Crabtree and Evelyn bottles that cost 20$ for 6 fluid ounces.

The best part of it was when I told friend M. about it, and she misheard me as "Hobo Oil". We had visions of poor, unlucky in love hobos coming in from the cold to be pressed just so that we could have first cold pressed extra virgin Hobo Oil.

Finally I did tell my mom we weren't going to do that, but that didn't go so well either.

Mom: I can't wait to come visit you and see how beauteous the floors look all refinished with jojoba oil!
Me: Well, actually we had three coats of polyurethane put down.
Mom: Oh, no!
Me: Well, the floors weren't nice enough for jojoba oil, you see, because of the cat urine...
Mom: Maybe I won't be visiting.

I am thinking of buying some jojoba oil for the guest bathroom, so that she can moisturize herself, but I'll have to tell her please not to pour it on the floor.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Big Chaotic Rooms

My kitchen is chaos!:

Yesterday kind of felt like a tornado touched down in my house. Somehow, in all the confusion and work, we scheduled the movers and the contractors who will be redoing the kitchen (more on that later) and the cable dude and the gas guy to all arrive between the hours of 8 and 11.

For a while it was just yelling as cries of "where do you want this?" and "Ma'am where's your meter?" echoed through the house.

In the middle of it the washer dryer installation crew arrived, installed the washer and dryer and left. It took me maybe 20 minutes to notice we had a washer and dryer.

Finally my husband's cousin arrived with two dogs, which was briefly more chaotic and then much, much better as she had also brought us lunch. Not sure how we would have gotten lunch otherwise.

The remainder of the day was taken up with opening boxes, each one like a cracker jack prize.

Oh, you think, I can put some dishes away. You open a box labeled dishes and get....sneakers!

Maybe I can play a game to decrease stress, you think. But where is the box with the games? Looking for it makes you stressed. You are screwed until you unpack everything.

Thankfully our friends- yes, the same ones we stayed with until the floors were done, came over and unpacked a bunch of stuff and arranged our furniture so now it just looks like we are really really messy instead of looking like the movers were actually robbers and we were never going to have any stuff.

The putting away of stuff actually stresses me out way more than the cleaning. It's a type A thing. I just can't do a thing until I finish the first thing. So everything room has to be perfect, then I can carefully place a perfect object in it and admire it.

Yeah, that's not going to happen. Better to give up now and enjoy the simple things- like how nice it was to sleep in my old bed last night.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


This morning we got up, packed our stuff (we have been staying with extremely tolerant friends) and headed off to that gigantic antiques fair.

It was way bigger than I expected. I mean, I saw the website, I linked you to it, but not much can prepare you for an event that has its own food court and onsite motel.

We looked at maybe half of it, and we are coming back on Sunday with a U-haul. We bought two dressers from the 1940's with an inlay of feathers on the top drawer and a repro Tiffany drop lamp. Oh, and I bought a gold pin.
Also the lemonade was delicious.

Tiffany lamp in box:

Old staircase lamp:

Tiffany lamp (installed by handier-by-the-minute husband):

We had a good time at Brimfield and I am v. proud of him for the lamp installation, which is good because the laundry room reno caused some friction. It is relatively unimportant and also more time consuming than I thought, but not more time consuming than anyone else told me to expect. I had a minor fight over it with my husband which basically went like this:

Me: It needs to be done, it needs to be done now, and I'm the one who's going to do it.
Him: There are so many other things that need to be done!
Me: But this needs to be done NOW!
Him: It's a LAUNDRY ROOM!!
Me: That's where you're RIGHT! Wait a minute...

I think maybe I felt I had to do it first because I knew that if I botched it nothing bad would happen. Not like the consequences of botching, say, painting the main living room. Well, it is done. And now I am sitting in my sunroom enjoying the newly minted wireless in our house and drinking Madeira out of a champagne glass, because it's the only kind of glass we currently have.

Tomorrow the movers will bring all of our stuff and I'll be able to drink Madeira out of a jam jar as The Lord intended.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wallpaper from Hell

Today I had everything all planned out. I was going to get up early, take down the wallpaper in the laundry room, repaint, get lunch and then go to the world's biggest antiques fair which is starting today.

There is also some water damage on the wood floor of the room, which I planned to sand and coat with the first coat of polyurethane. The room is very small, about 4x5 feet, so I figured I could do all that pretty quickly.

For those of you who have ever removed wallpaper before, please stop laughing.

It didn't exactly go as I wanted. The first strip of wallpaper was like a miracle. It came down without any remover, all in one strip, and there was wood under it which was awesome. I have never removed wallpaper before, and I thought that was normal. I was wrong.


The second went less well, multiple rounds with the hole poking device, a coat of remover, and then....the scrapening.

The last part was the worst, because the people who put up the wallpaper appeared to have painted that wall, decided they didn't like it, and put the wallpaper up over the wet paint.

So.... around about 8pm I was done talking down wallpaper. Then I had to sand! Actually the sanding was kind of fun. My husband bought an orbital sander and it worked great. It's made by Rigid, and I'm a lady who likes things that are rigid.

The floor still looks like shite. But it is sealed, so no further water damage will be done.

Here's a photo of the laundry room showing old wallpaper, half removed, and the painted cabinets with the (unpainted) wood above.

And here is is mid-painting:

And here it is after:

In the time I did all that my husband cleaned the kitchen, discovered that the fridge that came with house has a freezer full of mold, bought a new fridge, set up the internet, found out that we have one working phone jack in the entire house, made appointments for the phone company and gas company to come out and fix jacks and read meters, took a complete inventory of our outlets and brought me lunch and dinner.

My mother in law recently offered to help remove the wallpaper from other rooms in the house. Yeah, I'll be accepting that offer. In the meantime, ibuprofen and sleeeeep.

Totally Floored

Some pics of the floor refinishing...

Before (with cat pee stain!):


Before (third story):

Three layers of pain:

All ripped up:

After (third story):

Before (levelor hell):

After (*angels singing*):

A pile of nasty crap:

So, after the closing on the house my husband and I drove over with a bottle of champagne and two glasses to do the walk through and celebrate. We split the bottle on the deck and ran through all the big empty rooms shouting and laughing.

At one point I fell down drunk on the carpet in one of the upstairs rooms and just lay there giggling madly because I was so happy. It struck me that the carpet was kind of dirty but at the time I truly did not care.

The following day we came back to rip all that carpet up because the floors are going to be sanded and refinished before we move in, and WOW were we in for a nasty surprise. I didn't realize that the previous owners even had a cat, let alone a cat with severe urinary incontinence. Or monkeys.

We ripped up three rooms of carpet two of which were pretty nice and one which was badly damaged by cat pee. And then I had an allergy attack and had to stop because I was covered in hives. We drove back to NY to pack, and then I totally freaked out and drove back up over the weekend of the 4th to rip up all the carpet on the third floor in three days.

I was highly motivated. By pure rage.

When it got too dark to see carpet nails, I spent the early evening tearing down old dusty crappy levelor blinds which were covered in dust and dead bugs. Oh, and crappy faux lace polyester curtains in the bathroom which had mold on them. Oh and pulling NAILS out of the beautiful wood. And cursing. I accumulated a pile of nasty trash in the basement that is all disgusting crap I have ripped off of the house.

Soon it will go to the dump, which for a fee of only $35/year will supposedly accept *anything*. I'll be putting that to the test.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Manhattan Transfer

All my life I have had dreams about owning a house. No, not "The American Dream". I mean actual dreams, during which I was asleep. When I was a teenager they were all about decorating. I spent many nights painting walls and hanging art.

As a young adult I assumed I would never have any money- and so the dreams became about buying at auction and renovating a house that was condemned, saving it from certain destruction.
However, it hasn't been until just recently that any of these dreams started to become a reality.

The house that my husband and I finally did buy was beyond anything I had actually imagined. Since its purchase I have been cornering friends, family and new acquaintances at parties to obsessively rant about the renovations. So finally I decided to get a blog- so I could have somewhere to put all these thoughts that wouldn't drive everyone around me crazy.

But before I tell you about the new place, let me tell you about the old place. It was a rail car style apartment on the Upper East Side, about 750 square feet, which wouldn't be so bad except that it means to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night you have to walk through every other room including the kitchen. Also, it was located on the second floor above a bus stop and directly opposite a bar. Every weekend night the drunken ex-frat boys and miracle bra wearing girls would spill out into the street, scream each others' names for about an hour until the police arrived, and then retreat to sulk at the bus stop muttering about how the cops are bullshit.

I loved those cops.

The great things about our old place were that it had high ceilings and a fake fireplace and that it was seven blocks from Central Park.

The new place is a 4,800 square foot Arts and Crafts mansion on 1.8 acres of land surrounded by hundred year old trees, on a quiet street, with 6 bedrooms, four bathrooms, two half baths, two huge fireplaces and the most awesome staircase I have ever seen.

When the sellers and the bank got two different appraisals for the house, the difference in square feet between the appraisers was larger than our current apartment!

Also, our mortgage is three dollars less than our previous rent. Go ahead, hate me.

Here are some pictures, just for comparison.

Front steps before:

Pay no attention to the lady with camera in the reflection...

Front steps now:

This was the entryway:

This is the house's entryway!:

Stairs before:

Stairs after:

Living room before (note- maximum distance between television and couch is 3 1/2 feet):

Living room after:

There are many more rooms (more rooms!) in the house but I won't spam you with them now. I want the honeymoon to last a little longer. And then the bitching begins.