Thursday, March 27, 2008

I'll get you, my pretty... and your little DOG too!

I am seriously considering taking out a hit on the dog next door. It will not shut up. Last night they left it outside for at least 30 minutes and it barked THE WHOLE TIME. (Coincidentally it was during the entire broadcast of American Idol.) I'm not talking a "arf" here or there... It BARKED for half an hour straight. It's a terrier so it's that little "yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip..." constant-type-bark. I even went outside and looked around hoping there was something valid he would be barking at. Nope. Just the wind.


I think I was more upset last night to learn the lesson that you still can't control your neighbors - even in a nice neighborhood. Why did these people get a dog if they don't want anything to do with it? Dogs are pretty labor intensive and if you don't have the time to spend with one, or even the time to train it, then why get one? It's really not fair to the dog.

I will take a picture of the culprit tonight... along with a picture of the patio furniture. (Sorry Kevin!!)

Monday, March 24, 2008

What the deck?

I'm back at work today after a VERY productive weekend. Which is good and bad I guess... Good because I can sit at my desk and type on my blog and lay low... Bad because I was on such a roll that I kind of feel like if I had 1 more day off maybe I could get even more stuff done.

My office was closed on Friday so I had a free 3 day weekend. Friday I decided to head out and tackle some errands. And my last stop was at Garden Ridge because I saw an ad that they had patio umbrellas for $30 - which is a phenominal deal so I just had to check it out in person. When I got there not only did I find umbrellas in every color of the rainbow, but patio chair cushions in every color and pattern (25% off!) and new chairs ($15 each!) so I ended up getting 4 new chairs and 2 new cushions for the rocking chairs on the deck.

That purchase spurred a flurry of cleaning at Ardsley!! I scrubbed the remaining patio furniture down with a bottle of Krud Kutter and the hose on full blast. It was SO mildewy. Gross.
Then I moved inside the house and did a gargantuan amount of spring cleaning. I even vacuumed the blinds. (Yes I know I am fanatical but really they get very dusty. Have you ever looked at yours?) I feel so much better after a big cleaning like that, but it does wipe you out physically!
And then I moved onto cleaning out the office so we can do our taxes. I was shredding such old old old papers I was afraid they would turn to dust before I even got to load them in the shredder slot.

In between all the cleaning... we ate out one night, I cooked one night, we got some movies at Best Buy, I went to Dave's softbll game, I went to the pool with my sisters, and we had a nice Easter dinner at my parent's house. It was quite a whirlwind. But I am most excited about the new deck furniture! I'll take pictures tonight...
Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy 50th!

So what kind of present do I get for posting my 50th blog? Isn't that gold or diamonds or something?

I am kidding of course... (Dave is right now breathing a sigh of relief.)
So to celebrate - let's recap some of our favorite house stories shall we?

How about trying to install the new toilets? We did all that work to get the old ones out, the new ones installed and then stepped back and looked at it and Dave said "It's crooked." M-F-er.

OR how about the time I was pressure washing the deck and realized I was actually breaking the wood off because it was so rotted. So now we've got holes in the deck. Nice.

There was my nervous breakdown about the dining room paint color...
There was Dave's frustration over replacing all the outlets...
The light switches that go to nowhere and don't turn anything on...

And that stupid white carpet that we tried SO hard to keep clean, but then finally decided to rip it up and found nice hardwood floors underneath! (What were we afraid of??)

I know we're reminiscing here but I'd rather not talk about the wallpaper.... or the other wallpaper.... or that other wallpaper.

Or my favorite day... the day we signed the paperwork and then drove to Ardsley with the keys and walked into our very first house together. One of the neighbors actually ran over to congratulate us and took a picture of Dave carrying me over the threshold. :) We were so abitious. I think we've lost a little of that... we're just worn out and now are trying to enjoy all the work we've put into it. It's fun to come home to a house that's (for the most part) finished.

We've learned alot in a VERY short amount of time about what we can and can't do. And now people are asking for our advice... which is so crazy to me because not a year ago I was asking everyone I could think of for advice!!
To anyone buying an old house out there I would say it's fun - but ALOT of work. So you either have to be independently wealthy or willing to give up alot of Saturdays. It's all worth it in the long run though when people come over and say, "I love your blank.... who did that for you?"

And you can say, "I did."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Who's your Paddy?

For the first time in a LONG time I cooked an Irish meal that didn't taste like gruel!!! I finally did it!!

I always try and cook a traditional Irish dish on the big day... partly as an homage to my peeps, partly because I like to try new recipes, and partly because I am trying to inspire Dave to take me back to the motherland. I went once in college but haven't been back since.
Well last night I made a beef and Guinness stew and we ate it at our pub table... it was like we were on the Emerald Isle! So quaint! Dave had a Guinness, I had a glass of white wine (I just couldn't stomach the Guinness) it was nice. So you just have to let brag about this one... considering my past attempts.

Oh yes. There have been many a March 17th where I crashed and burned - literally.

There was the time I cooked corned beef in the crock pot - It was too mushy so we decided to throw it on the grill. Yeah. Did you know that corned beef is full of fat? Yeah. And did you know that fat over an open grill will most likely cause a humongous fire? Yeah. Part of my eyebrow fell out. No joke.

Or how about the time I decided to cook shepard's pie... but in the interest of time I used INSTANT mashed potatoes. Yeah. They were a little runny. And sort of.... ran... into the meat below them. Yeah. It looked and tasted like slop.

Or how about the time I tried to boil cabbage and Dave came home from work and accused me of having really bad gas because he said no piece of lettuce could actually smell THAT bad.

So raise a glass all you chefs out there - by God we deserve a drink. It's a war zone in the kitchen.
Happy St. Patricks day everyone!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We all scream for ice cream.

Another reason why I LOVE our new neighborhood. We've got an honest to goodness Ice Cream Man who drives through the neighborhood EVERY AFTERNOON. I kid you not. You can hear him coming because he plays that childhood tune "Do your ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie them in a knot? Can you tie them in a bow?........" Even in the dead of winter I saw him driving through... and I thought, that's a little weird, but still really neat!!
I can't wait until it's summer. I've got these visions in my head about what "Life on Ardsley" will be like. I come home from work... dinner is simmering on the stove... I sit on the front step with a glass of white wine... ice cream man drives by, I wave, he waves... people walk their dogs... Dave gets home... and we eat on the deck overlooking our yard that has miraculously come back from the dead, and all the flowers are in bloom.... AAAhhhhhhhh. Doesn't it sound heavenly?? (Well come visit this summer!!! We love company!!!)

Shed some light on it.

Well the in-laws came and went... it was a quick trip as usual. I didn't get as much of the yard tackled as I wanted, for two reasons. Nancy never really brought it up... and two, I caught a cold and started feeling really awful on Saturday. We did work for about 2 hours in one of the flower beds which was great; but that was about the extent of our gardening. I didn't want to push it, but I was really hoping she would help us tackle our black thumb. She ended up telling us alot of what we should do before summer gets here. So I got some good advice, but the yard still looks as crappy as ever.

Dave and Charlie built a great little shed in the back. It's much bigger than the old metal one and this one actually has a door that locks. It took them the entire time and they had to make several "emergency" trips to Lowes but I think it was well worth it!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Picture Perfect

Amazing what a picture on the wall can do for your spirits!!

Dave and I were feeling bummed about spending all our time working on the houses, having no money, etc., and then we decided - let's put some pictures on the walls. I don't know why we waited this long... but Dave got out the tools and I pulled all our pictures out from the closet, and we started holding them up this way and that way and started hanging them. We couldn't stop ourselves - we were drilling and hanging until 11:30 pm!! It feels soooo much homier and cozy! We did leave some space for new pictures we want to get someday... but for now we are enjoying some of the great art we've collected.

Belmonte gets a sunny facelift..

Four rooms in Belmonte are now looking brighter than ever... which ain't too shabby considering there are like 6 roooms total in that house. I used the color Tea Cookie by Behr...mainly because I had alot left over from the hallway in Ardsley. So I had about a gallon and 3/4 of another to work with... and MAN was it close! I was scraping every little last drop out of the can!! The office/2nd bedroom was the last room I painted and it's pretty thin.. but I think it works.
I also touched up the trim on the bottom of the walls with white trim paint. It in no way matched what I had originally painted it - but those baseboards were SO dirty. They were filled with scuff marks, dirt, dust, splatters of soda and wine. I don't remember being that sloppy but apparently we were pigs!!!
If nothing else, everything at least looks fresh and clean for our open house on Saturday.

Monday, March 3, 2008

From me to you.

The painting is well underway at the old house... and since there is no furniture, television or radio there now... I had A LOT of time to think. I thought a lot about painting... and what I've learned in the past few months. Then I thought, "Why not pass along these valuable tips to you folks in case you are contemplating painting your own four walls??" So my friends, here are some tips you might want to consider before picking up that paint brush.

1.) WHEN IT COMES TO COLOR - CHOOSE WISELY. Those little paint swatches might look great taped to your wall... just remember that it will be 100 times brighter and bigger once you get it up there. If you have color phobia you will want to stick to the swatches labeled "Whites and Neutrals." They actually end up a lot darker than white or neutral so I think you'll be happy with the end result.

2.) PRIME IT. I used to skip this step. I thought I was better than that. I didn't need primer! Then we moved into a house with wallpaper and I was forced to investigate primer and actually use it on the wall. What a difference!! I kid you not! Not only does it fill in the imperfections, it makes your color truer with no bleeding from the previous color. **Caution: If you use oil based Killz - open a window - or else you can find yourself sitting on the couch eating an entire bag of Doritos and watching cartoons.

3.) ROLLERS ARE NOT WORTH SAVING. I used to spend hours trying to get all the paint out from the roller. Why??? You can never get all the paint out. It's impossible. And after you use it once, it's never the same again.
The same can be said for the "freezer trick." It doesn't work. Inevitably you'll forget you put it in there and then you either have to wait until it defrosts, or you end up painting ice on your walls. Forget it!! I say - buy a new roller every time you paint. They are cheap enough that you can do this. Typically a pack of three is 5 bucks. Money well spent in my book.

4.) BLUE TAPE IS FOR SUCKERS. Have you ever EVER taped the trim/door knob/floor/window/etc. with that blue "Painters Tape" and then pulled it up after you were done... and found that it didn't seep under the tape? No of course not. So why even bother? Just be sloppy and touch up later with a really small brush.

5.) ALWAYS PAINT BAREFOOT. So you can feel if you stepped in a splatter before you go walking all through the house trailing little blue dots wherever you go.

Most importantly - HAVE FUN WITH IT! It's just paint. If you hate it, you can change it for as little as $20. Just keep that in mind when you are crying over your decision to paint the dining room purple.