22 November 2006

Let there be light!

One of the very first things we did when we bought our house was paint. All the rooms (minus the bathroom, which can only be helped with a stick of dynamite, and our bedroom, whose ceiling will be replaced) got a new coat of paint on the walls and ceiling.

When we did the walls, we didn't worry about the top edges because eventually, they will all be covered with crown moulding. When we did the ceilings, we took down the light fixtures and let them dangle, so that we could evenly coat the entire surface.

That was two years ago.

And, this is what Avery's room (top) and the spare room looked like as of last week:

After painting, we never reattached the lighting fixtures because we knew that we wanted to replace them. A few months ago, we bought new lights (Avery picked his out) and finally last week, Jason braved the very old fabric electrical wires:

Yikes, I know. He's an excellent boyfriend. And, we only got into one fight during the project. Progress people, that's all we want :) So, here are the "after" photos:

Now, about that crown moulding in Avery's room... ;)

14 September 2006

"Curtain Rods"

Um. Yeah.

That's Jenn.

They're going to be curtain rods.

Trust me, kids. We'll make it work.


24 August 2006

I do stuff, too. I swear!

Lest you think I lounge about, lazily flipping through magazines, surfing the interwebs and scratching my kitties under their fuzzy little chins whilst dearest boyfriend slaves away painting trim and installing windows, I show to you this:



(Yes, that is an old school Bop It to the left.)

There used to be a rubber tree in that pot, but it had slowly begun its decent to the compost pile about three months ago when new growth ceased and leaves began to drop one by one. Once there were only about three and a half leaves left, we emptied the pot and decided to wait until we could get to Ott's for a replacement plant. Who doesn't love an excuse to go there?!

So, we went to Ott's and totally did not buy a house plant. Perhaps we were too stunned by the awesomeness of the place. Or perhaps I just forgot. Either way, we returned from Ott's with no houseplant, but instead some adorable little decorative pepper plants, flowering cabbage and on-sale perennials for the front bed and stairs. (See, I'm on charge of those, too.)

And, thank goodness we didn't get a house plant there, because our neighbor had a I'm-selling-everything-I-own yard sale (he's moving to Arizona in two weeks) and we scored this money tree for TEN DOLLARS. Hells, yeah.

Tonight when you say your prayers, please include this plant's survival on your list. We live in a row home and this baby is right in the middle of the house, where it can see a few windows from the corners of its eyes, but maybe can't get a whole lot of light. Don't worry, if it starts to look sad, I'll find a sunnier place for it. But dang... it just looks so perfect where it is. Don't you think?

21 August 2006

We've got more trim than you...

Good god, there's a lot of white trim in our living room. And Jason touched up every last square inch of it this weekend :)

The banister is my nemesis. My friend Michelle and I spent an afternoon shortly after we moved in (almost TWO YEARS AGO) trying to cover the maroon with white. Covering up a dark color, especially red, with a light color, especially white, is hard enough, but we ran into an additional bizarre problem:

Everywhere there is maroon paint (all the trim in the upstairs hallway, the banister and staircase, and the living room and dining room trim) there is also a force field that repels any other paint form covering it.

I'm not kidding people. When one tries to paint white over the red, it "slips" off. After about 14 coats (with drying time in between each), the maroon goes away. It's really, really strange and really, really frustrating. Which is why the banister and upstairs trim is half-assed not done. See that first picture for an example of "half-assed not done."

Jason had the white paint out for some minor touch up work in the living room and for the repairing of the living room window sill. Cinder likes to throw herself at the window whenever another dog dares to walk down the street and her claws have scratched the daylights out of the sill. Also, one side of our couch is near the window and there's a gap of about two feet between the arm of the couch and the window. Cinder's preferred investigative perch is in the shape of a bridge, with her back legs on the couch, front legs on the radiator and slobber dripping onto the sill. Cute, i know.

So, that was Jason's mission today, to repair and repaint the window area, as well as finish up the box-that-looks-like-a-column he made to cover the radiator pipe. Because he had the paint out, he decided to tackle the banister. He's good like that.

The banister looks awesome and so does the window. We're ordering a piece of Plexiglas to cover and protect the newly-painted sill.

Oh my goodness... maybe soon we can look into putting up curtains! How exciting :D

29 July 2006

Jase rocks

Jason finished up some flashing on the roof, and while he was up there, he plugged up the gutter over our porch. The one that spills buckets of rain water onto the flower bed in front of our house. That means, we could also plant the hibiscus and phlox that we bought today. Yay!

But, the real story is the praying mantis that Jase saw in the bed. She was eating a fly. A fly whose leg was still twitching.

You can't see the fly leg twitching action in these photographs, but if you make them larger (by clicking on them), you can see it's lower body. By the time we saw the scene, the mantis had already eaten the fly's head.

As I was taking photos, it stopped eating and turned to look at me. While looking up praying mantis at Wikipedia, we learned that they are one of the few insects that can turn their heads, and that there are 2,300 mantis species world-wide. We also learned that a praying mantis is capable of capturing and killing a humming bird.

Pretty wild.

28 July 2006

Details, details, details

Right begfore we left for holiday, Jase finished up the crown moulding in the living room. The actual moulding has been up, but the caulking and touch-up paint had to be done:

He's pretty good, yes? Oh, and don't mind the slash of paint on the ceiling, which is visible in the photo, as it's not visible in real life.

While he was finishing this project, I was updating one of our other blogs, and we were listening to This American Life. A perfect no-work afternoon :)

26 June 2006

Zucchini the size of your arm

Because there's so much garden stuff in here lately, I should note that we picked, prepared and devoured our first home-grown zucchini this weekend. Woot! Read all about it here, on out JAM*intake site: http://jamintake.blogspot.com/2006/06/home-grown.html

Gardens (and eating locally and organically) rock! :-D

21 June 2006

Summer, Summer, Summertime

Summer summer summertime
time to sit back and unwind

Here it is the groove slightly transformed
just a bit of a break from the norm
just a little somethin' to break the monotony
of all that hardcore dance that has gotten to be
a little bit out of control it's cool to dance
but what about the groove that soothes that moves romance
give me a soft subtle mix
and if ain't broke then don't try to fix it
and think of the summers of the past
adjust the base and let the alpine blast
pop in my CD and let me run a rhyme
and put your car on cruise and lay back cause this is summertime
--The Fresh Prince

Happy Summer Solstice! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_solstice

One Love,

17 June 2006

Meet our boy, Francis

Lots of outside work lately :o) The veggie garden that we laid out in April was planted right before Mother's Day and is doing fabulously. Yay veggies!

The photograph on the top is facing the alley, the photograph on the bottom is facing the house. The white building is our neighbor's garage whose vintage look is proving to be a perfect backdrop to the garden, don't you think?

We planted:
yellow squash
jalapeƱo peppers
banana peppers

red bell peppers
string beans
red lettuce

So far, no fertilizer, no pesticides, no insecticides, no nothing! We mixed in our compost pile with the soil when it was planted and since then, it's had just sun, water and love. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we'll continue to get through the season with only those three ingredients.

We also moved Saint Francis to his
intended place in the garden. What? didn't you know Saints should be placed behind the lettuce?

The Saint Francis statue was given to me by two amazing people, Jean and Wally Dolan. Ol' Saint Franny was chillin' in their gardens for nearly 30 years, where Wally unfailingly took care of him with a fresh coat of spray polyurethane every other season or so. Then, a few years ago, the Dolans decided to downsize and moved into a condo. They gave a lot of things away when they moved, downsizing not only their landscape, but also their possessions.

Of course, Saint Francis made the cut, and found his new place at the foot of the stairs leading up to the new Dolan home. Wally and Jean always knew that they wanted to pass the statue onto someone, but they wanted to find someone that would care for him and get as much joy out of him as they had for so long.

A couple months ago, they mentioned Saint Francis and their quest to find him a new home to a group of us and I jumped (no really, I jumped), clasped my hand together, and gushed about my love for the Saint and how he is just my favorite Saint ever and how we just dug up our yard and how I would have just the perfect place for him once we put in the gardens and I promised I would take care of him and could I, could I please, keep him? Please? Please, huh, please?

I think primarily in an effort to shut me up, they said yes. I picked him up that afternoon.

So, Francis has kind of been hanging out here and there in the yard since April. This weekend, he picked his preferred location in the lively, colorful and serene vegetable garden. (Click the photo to enlarge it.) He looks perfect there, doesn't he?

11 June 2006


Best thrift store purchase to date: Aaaw yeah. It's a Scott's classic model in impeccable condition, and came with a catch bag and a sharpening kit. Oh, and it cost us 25 bucks.



Had we bought it new, it would have cost us over $100. I've been looking for a reel mower since last spring, and I am so glad that I didn't give up, give in and buy one new. My favorite thrift store, Impact! in Lansdale, reliably came through for us once again. It's lovely when patience pays off, yes?

It only took five of us, but we figured out how to sharpen the blades:

From left to right, that's Jason, Mattie, Daddy-O and Bill. Mikaela is behind the camera.

03 June 2006

This is where shrubs come to die

Did I say die? I mean, rehabilitate. They come here to get better, healthier, happier, yay!

The best part of rehabilitating plants? Re-potting.
The best part of re-potting? Dirt.
The best part of dirt? Adding water.
The best part of adding water? Mud.
The best part of mud? This:

My little neighbor and Amanda's sister, Erykah, was my helper this weekend. Actually, she's been our helper since Amanda and I planted the front bed. I just want to eat her up.

29 May 2006

Dirty, dirty girls

One of the teenage daughters from the family to our right, Amanda, and I decided that we would rip out our (verysmall) shared garden. The garden is between our front walks and has had gigantic hostas growing in them since.... Forever. Or, about that long, anyway.

So, up to Suelke's we went. (Yay! I heart Suelke's!)

Amanda and I decided on a color theme of white, yellow and blue. It actually turned out to be more white, yellow and purple because there aren't a lot of blue flowers out there. We grabbed about one of everything (seriously) within our color requirements and a few bags of topsoil. One of my favorite flowers is a columbine, but I had never seen a two-colored one (see photo at right) - it's beautiful! We bought one to take place center stage in the garden, and two white ones to sit on each side.

Jason was very supportive throughout the entire shopping trip, and so I bought him one of the most beautiful hanging plants on earth. [Photo coming soon!]

Once home, we ripped out the hostas and put them aside for Amanda's family to take up to their camper at Boulder Woods in Green Lane. Then we tediously picked out as many of the weeds as we could, turned the soil (with a pick ax and shovels), mixed in top soil and laid out the plants. Turns out, Amanda has a really great eye for gardening! She did a fantastic job arranging all the different flowers. Finally, we planted, mulched and watered.

So pretty!
[Photo coming soon!]

09 May 2006

Through these windows, we can see your soul

More window installation!

The completion of the yard
inspired Jason to takle a couple windows. He's an animal. See, look:

That's the bathroom window. (Don't you love the tan and white
color scheme. Ugh.) And, here is the spare bedroom window:

The trim has to be painted and re-installed, and we need to find a way to make the bathroom window
not-so-see-through. It'll be nice to do some final touches and get these big projects out of the way.

Speaking of big projects...

Capping these windows is definately a priority. The outer frames are epecially bad on the wall of the bathroom (pictured) and the spare room. I think that this is one project that we will sub-out. Unless we find someone with an aluminum break, of course :o)

28 April 2006


Reason number 5,926 for Why it is Good to Have a Small Home:


Sod rocks our world, my friends. I hope that one day, you too will have the divine opportunity to turn your dirt yard into a soft, lush, green, green, green slice of heaven on earth.


As you can see, Nicholas ond Avery Cain are thrilled to be able to do their Jedi Training in the new yard - very important business for nine-year-old boys. And, the real reason why we took on this project :o)

19 April 2006

It runs downhill

The back yard saga continues, but the end is in sight!

Part three, diversion drain
There is a natural grade in the yard that runs right into our house. By installing a drain at the first low point of the grade (about the center of the yard), we hope to divert the water through a pipe and onto the street. Currently, the water goes into the basement. Of course, Bob already has one of these, so all we had to do was tap into his line.

We purchased enough perforated flexible pipe, drain caps, weedblock and gravel (thanks, Phil!) to build the drain from our yard, through the neighbors and into Bob and Sue's exisiting line. Then, we dug. 12 inches down, 12 inches across. This was not fun.

Once everything was installed, we covered it up with dirt and pondered: We spent two weekends working on a project, that, when all is said and done, we will never see and therefore will never be impressing to our family and friends. Hm.

03 April 2006

Pound puppy

Part two, new back fence
We had to keep the super pooch in the yard, so the new fence had to be installed ASAP. Jase picked up a couple pieces of fencing from Home Depot. After consulting with Bob (he knows *everything*), he installed the new fence pieces and a gate. It looks lovely - and Cinder is contained :o)

Also, in the photograph you can see where we started laying out the vegetable garden - yummm! The little barrier wall is built out of reclaimed materials; bricks from our chimney and wood from my parents old garden.

Disclaimer: Any fencing and decking we do from here on out will be with more environmentally-sound materials. We've used that grey recycled plastic composite lumber from Home Depot before, but Laura recently turned us onto Trex, which I think is our preferred material moving forward.

21 March 2006

I like dirt

I like dirt
I like dirt
I like dirt
I like dirt

The earth is made of dirt and wood
And I’d be water if I could
I live in a dream
In your stream
I live in a dream


We began tearing up our backyard at the beginning of the month. This is a project that has been on The List since we bought the house 18 months ago - it feels great to have it crossed off!

In our old house (circa 1928), we simply cannot expect to have a dry basement. We would however, really love a not-soaking-wet basement and the completion of this project will hopefully give us that :o) So far though, it has also only given us a dirty - no, make that a very, very, very dirty house. If you fell the desire to identify every surface, corner and orrafice of your home, I recommend filling your back yard with dirt and waiting a few weeks while two adults, one child, two cats and a dog go in and out, tracking that shit *everywhere*.

Anyway, here's what we did:

Part one, re-grade the yard
Ugh. We knew it had to be done, but really, when are you ever *really* ready to completely rip out what little grassy yard and fence you have and invite a machine to come in and dig it up and turn it into no more than a dirt desert? Our motivation came from two places.

One: Our neighbor and friend, Arland, had a couple free days, a bob cat, a load of topsoil and a willingness to work for beer.

Two: we had spring fever.

The end result was not only a re-graded yard, but also a re-graded alley, four new fenceposts set in concrete, a load of topsoil spread and a retaining wall and a compost area built from reclaimed wood. And 25% of the keg gone ;o)

The retaining wall pieces were salvaged from Mike's old pre-addition walkway, and the materials used to build the compost area is made from our old fence.

Mission compete! Next is building the fence, installing a diversion drain and laying sod.

Oh, and in case you haven't heard, Azrielle (aka, Tubby) loves dirt. If it were up to him, we'd stop right here. Whenever we're digging, he comes waddling up to the freshly tilled earth and with no grace what-so-ever, plops down and starts rolling. Pictures speak a thousand words, my friends. (Want to see more stuff on our cat? Go here!

12 February 2006

That is because you crazy!... The new one is much better.

in early february, boyfriend and monster installed the replacement window in the dressing room. monster excelled at the demo portion of the job while boyfriend excelled at the home repair patience with an eight-year-old portion.

replacement windows were one of our first big purchases for 132 noble. they've lived here with us, in their shrink-wrapped factory glory, in various rooms since november of 2004. slowly and surely, they've been placed in their permanent rooms and this one marks the first one to be installed on the second floor. woo-hoo, boys!


a quick on the side: this talking of the windows as inanimate objects being in shrinkwrapped glory and finding permanent homes - of having *feelings* reminds me of this ikea comercial (via prestonandsteve).

06 February 2006

Our house

this is where girlfriend and boyfriend keep track of all the cool stuff (and the boring, mandatory stuff) they do to their house.