Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Common Ground

Sometimes, if we try, we can find common ground. Or, in this case, common sofa.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Trying something new

There will be no more stripping paint. There will be no more refinishing floors. There will be no more long afternoons spent planting flowers and raking leaves. No more drafty rooms. We are trying something new.

For the last 15 years, Eddie and I owned old houses. We reveled in the front porch time and enjoyed the hardwood floors, crown molding and big windows that they had to offer. It was work, work, work all the time, as one thing or another had to be fixed, maintained or renovated. But, we kept doing it. It was worth it to us. When we got married, we thought things would get easier as we joined forces with our 1920's bungalow. They were not. We continued to enjoy the trees and the front porch and the molding and windows, but we started asking ourselves-- "What if we lived in a place that didn't have a yard?" Or, "what if we lived in a place that didn't need so much upkeep?" Just think of all the tennis we could play, all the money we could save, and all the time we would have.

We also thought about what we would lose-- the grand front porch, the old neighborhood feel, the beauty and uniqueness of an older home. We thought about things like the attic fan and windows that kept our energy costs down. We thought about the garden and the compost that saved us money and helped us live greener. It was a tough decision, but we decided to take the plunge. We sold the old bungalow in favor of a newer condominium unit. We sold some of the antique furniture (but kept most of it). We sold our lawn mower and most of the gardening tools (our former neighbors quickly took them off our hands). We kept the pots and planters for the patio.

So, how has it gone? Well, we've had a lot of time to discuss it as we relax at the nearby coffee house, and early polling data shows a tremendous success. There were some initial adjustments to central air conditioning (how do I work this thermostat?) and covered parking, but most things have fallen right into place. Personally, I can't say that I miss much from the old house, except that sometimes it was nice to turn the dog out in the yard instead of having to walk her every time. But, that's small potatoes. It turns out that our new neighborhood is even more walkable than the old. We can walk (or bike) to grocery stores, restaurants, coffee houses and shopping. Good stuff.

It was scary at first to leave a lifestyle and area of town that we had known for so long, but I'm glad we did it. No regrets. Change is good sometimes. Most of the time, if you listen to your heart and follow the signs, you will end up right where you are supposed to be.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why do we wait?

Well, Eddie and I finally decided to take the plunge. We are selling the house and moving into a condo. Ahhh. Simpler living. Can't wait. But, there is a long road (in a short time frame) from here to there. While we wait for the closing day on the condo, we are busy whipping our house into shape to put on the market. We are finishing projects right and left, but most of them are things we've wanted to do for years. Some of them date back to when Eddie first moved in . . . several years ago (we won't disclose just how many).

The same thing happened to me before Eddie and I were married. Overall, my house was in good shape, but I struggled year after year to strip the paint from the front porch so I could repaint it. When I knew I would be moving soon, though, I asked a contractor, "can't you just pour a layer of concrete over it and be done with it?" As it turned out, you certainly can. It looked fantastic. I was only able to enjoy it for a couple months. It was the same with the kitchen floor. The cheap tile installed by the previous owner came up in 30 minutes, only to reveal a stubborn mess of mastic (or whatever that stuff is) underneath. More than one person spent countless hours trying to scrape that junk off the floor. The same contractor took one look at it and said "no problem, we can sand that out." And so they did. Filled in the cracks and put on a nice, dark stain. It was what I wanted all along. Again, it was great for the few short weeks I was able to enjoy it.

Over here, we just had a new dishwasher installed. We had been washing dishes by hand for months because after we replaced the kitchen faucet, we couldn't attach the hoses for the portable dishwasher anymore. Let me tell you, I am running that bad boy every other day! Before the dishwasher, we put in a new kitchen floor. The old floor had a cool design on it, but it was wood painted white, and after 10 years, there were stains that wouldn't mop out. It never really looked clean to me, though I could attest to scrubbing it within an inch of its life. The new owner won't have that problem. They will have the nice, new floor. And the freshly painted trim, and the refinished floors.

So, why do we wait? Why do we pull out all the stops and produce our best work on a place right before we leave it? Did that lesson learned in Girl Scouts (leave every place better than you found it) imprint that much? Is it simple economics (if we do all these projects, we can sell the house at a higher price)? Or is it karma? The condo we are buying is a much newer property, so it doesn't have the quirks and character and architectural accents of the old houses we've been living in, but it is SPOTLESS. Everything is clean (at least until we and the animals get there) and fresh and painted and in good condition. All we will have to do is move our furniture in and enjoy. We hope the same will be true for whoever buys our house. Maybe we shouldn't have waited to do all these things, but I guess it all comes around in the end.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Working on acceptance

I do not like cold weather. I mean, I really, really do not like cold weather. Some people think it is not winter without snow. I totally disagree. Others like the cold temperatures so they can wear tights and wool coats and colorful scarves. I would much rather wear sandals and cotton and sleeveless shirts. I like the feeling of the warm sun on my skin. I like being able to sit on the porch. But, I am trying to accept the cold weather and the changes it brings. It gives us a break from yard work. It gives us a chance to snuggle under blankets. Hot chocolate tastes better. December brings Christmas and January brings the new year and all the hopes and promises to look forward to. February rolls around and you dare to think that the warm weather is in reach. If I can just tighten my scarf and pull down my cap and hold on a little longer . . .

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Trying to be green, part 2

They have been available at the grocery stores for years and have been even more prominent lately: the reusable grocery shopping bag. Everyone should be using them, but so few of us do, even though we've heard numerous times how plastic bags use petroleum and linger in the landfills and icky chemicals are released in the manufacturing of paper bags. Sure, it is nice to have a few paper bags to put newspapers in for recycling and a few plastic bags for walking the dog, but they really pile up after a while. The grocery stores have bins where you can recycle your plastic bags, but who remembers to do that? And, are they really recycling those bags or do they just want you to think they are recycling them? We don't know for sure. Anyway, after months of threatening to buy a bunch of those reusable grocery shopping bags and bid farewell to paper and plastic, we finally did it. But now, the big question-- will we ever use these bags again? Place your bets, folks.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My tasty new discovery

I was making Peanut Blossom cookies for the first time to take to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. You know, the sugar-coated peanut butter cookies with the Hershey's Kisses in the middle. One of the classics-- at least for me. I remember eating them at various school and/or Girl Scout functions growing up. The combination of peanut butter and milk chocolate is a winner, of course, but I always had difficulty eating the cookies (okay, maybe not that much difficulty) because of the Hershey's Kiss sticking up in the middle. Do you pull the Kiss off the cookie and eat it first? Do you bite the top off the Kiss until it is level with the rest of the cookie? Who thought of this design anyway? Well, I wondered how I would resolve this issue now that I had control of the batch. I ended up buying Hershey's Miniatures and Hershey's Kisses, thinking I would try the flat Miniatures but have the Kisses to fall back on. I made the first batch in the traditional style with the Kisses in the middle (I figured at least one person would say "hey, isn't this supposed to have a Hershey's Kiss in it?"). They turned out perfectly. With the second batch, I used the Hershey's Miniatures. Not quite as pretty, and slightly too much chocolate (debatable, I suppose), but at least it was flat, and you would get chocolate in every bite of the cookie. Then, it came to me. While the chocolate was warm (having been placed on the cookies right out of the oven), I took a knife and spread the chocolate out like frosting. Yesssss! That's it! When the cookies cool, the chocolate hardens so you don't have a sloppy mess. My new invention tested well at home, but I decided to take the first (classic) batch to Thanksgiving dinner. They were a bit hit, too, but little did they know. Just wait until Christmas. My tasty new discovery will be revealed.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I am trying to be green, but . . .

I really am trying to be more "green." The problem is, I can't quite get it right. You see, I prefer to use paper towels to clean up messes than cloth towels, even though cloth towels are the greener choice. I also like to print things out sometimes, even though that involves bleached white office paper. There are situations where I could ride a bicycle, but end up driving the car because I didn't allow myself enough time to get there on a bike. What else? Oh yes, I don't always turn off the light when I leave the room because I think it is good to show some light in different rooms. (It is supposed to throw off the burglars). We subscribe to magazines that don't get read and sometimes we have to throw food out because we let it spoil. Who can keep up with this all the time? Can anyone? It would take a constant, 24-hour vigil to really get it done. It makes me wonder about the people that make that claim and lord it over everyone else. I bet we could find something on them. But, wouldn't that be a waste of energy, too?