Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Addition update - installing built in bookcases

My husband took off work this week to work on the addition project.  Usually after Thanksgiving we start decorating for Christmas, this year we started tearing apart the house.

First, we boxed up all the books from the bookcases in the living room.  That was a sad moment because the bookcases gave our house some character, I have been dreading moving them out of the living room. Then we carried the bookcases out to the addition. These bookcases were custom built for me years ago by some dear friends.  They did an excellent job with the bookcases, they are very sturdy.

And very heavy.

Each one weighs about the same as a small car.

I have moved these bookcases too many times. I have hauled them up and down flights of stairs, I have dragged them onto moving truck and off of moving trucks. That reminds me of a funny story.

One time two friends were helping me unload the truck. They were both trying to lift one section of the bookcase. Now granted, it is heavy and unwieldy. Each section is 3 feet wide and 7 feet tall, so they are hard to move. However, I have had to move them many times so I assumed the two of them would be able to handle one section. They struggled for a bit, complaining how heavy this beast was, saying "maybe we should find a man to help...."  Now, I had been moving boxes all day, I was grumpy and was feeling impatient with them. Finally, totally exasperated, I said "move aside!" And by myself, I lifted the bookcase and moved it.  My friends gaped at me in wonder, I believe they were awestruck.   That day the nickname "superwoman" was given to me.  I believe I earned that one.

Now, to be fair I must tell another story. These bookcases have not always been kind to me. One time I was moving them by myself and one fell on top of me, hitting me on the head.  I lay there on the ground with this huge bookcase on top of me. My head was throbbing, I didn't know how I would lift the bookcase off of me. Then I saw feet, someone was standing near me, it appeared to be a man walking his dog.  I asked him to help me but he turned and walked away. That was a low point for me.  I did manage to crawl out from underneath the bookcase and ended up spending the evening at the urgent care with a slight concussion from that bookcase. We have such a history together.

But this is the last time the bookcases are being moved. Peter built a base to raise them to the ceiling, eventually they will have crown molding around the top. We are building them into the new piano room, they will be attached to the wall and will spend the rest of their lives there.

This is what the piano room looked like a week ago.

and this is what it looks like now...

I will not show you what our living room looks like now because I hate it. It looks so empty and blah.  I really can't do anything to fix it either because we do not yet know what we are doing with that room.  When I get the Christmas tree up it will help a lot.  I told Peter we may need three Christmas trees to cover the wall! 

'til next time...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reading...Now May You Weep

Now May You Weep  by Deborah Crombie.

This is a Scotland Yard Mystery.  I have read several of her books and love them!  The characters seem very real, they have problems that we all have, they are not perfect, they are human.

I would like to start at the beginning and read the series in chronological order.  I may do that this winter, so far I have jumped around in the series.

Crombie has a Martha Grimes or Louise Penny feel, if you like those authors you will like her.

'til next time...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thinking about the years of Thanksgiving

This year many people were posting each day one thing that they were thankful for. I think this was done for the whole month of November, or maybe up to Thanksgiving day.  I think it is  a great concept but as usual it took me awhile to figure out what was going on.....maybe next year.  I saw a lot of posts on Facebook, they was good reminders of all the things we have to be thankful for. I think consciously thinking of our blessings and verbalizing them does a lot for our mental health. Reading these posts made me think about my blessings and it also made me reflect on the Thanksgiving holiday and all the past years of celebrating.

As a young child Thanksgiving was a highlight of the year. We would go to my mom's parents house and stay a few days with all the family. As a kid it was a great time, we got to be with our cousins for a couple days straight, we ate lots of food, played games, such great memories.  Sometimes my mom's father's family got together with his brothers family, then it was really crazy!  Tons of people!  Some years after spending a few days with my moms family we would drive to "the country" and spend an afternoon with my dads family. As a child I loved Thanksgiving.

Then at some point things changed.  I'm not sure what year it was but at some point the Assembly decided that Thanksgiving Day needed to be spent together as a group rather than with family. To add insult to injury they didn't even serve traditional food, we ate chicken instead of turkey.  Those were sad times.

Then I left the Assembly and Thanksgiving started improving.

2003 -  I spent Thanksgiving with a dear British friend.  The two of us cooked many of the traditional dishes and sat at the table, eating ourselves into a food coma.  I think we later rolled ourselves out of the door and went to a movie.

2004 - Peter and I were dating but not spending holidays together yet!  I went down to Richmond and spent Thanksgiving with my brother, his wife and my baby nephew.

2005 - We had Thanksgiving here with my brother.  I fixed a bunch of food, my brother and Peter just stared at the table in dismay, wondering what army was coming to dinner?

2006 - Peter and I went to New York to spend Thanksgiving with his family. We spent Thanksgiving day in the traditional way of feasting!  The next day we went into the city and went to dinner and then to a Broadway show, it was a play starring Bill Nighy and Julianne Moore. Wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

2007 - Back to New York.  This was a great time also but with a few complications.  I was pregnant, very sick and trying to hide my dashes to the bathroom. I thought for sure that his family had figured it out, they probably thought I was just boring. I believe they still think I am quiet. Go ahead and laugh all you people who really know me!  We went into the city, went to dinner (which I didn't keep down) and went to see Stomp. Another great holiday, just would have been better if I hadn't been trying to hide my vomiting.  Kind of felt like a bulimic trying to hide my addiction.

2008 - This was a bittersweet year. We had a precious little baby boy that we were so thankful for. But we wouldn't be going to New York for Thanksgiving as we had just been to New York a few weeks prior for his aunt's funeral. We were so happy to have our sweet boy here to celebrate with, but sad that his aunt was gone. We spent this Thanksgiving at our neighbors house with other neighbors. Everyone brought food and we had a lovely meal!

2009 - This year we had Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's house. We had lots to be thankful for, especially the recent arrival of our baby girl.  It was a lovely Thanksgiving, especially celebrating with our new family of four!

2010 - We hosted at our house. My parents and brother were with us.  It was nice to have some family with us but it wasn't a joyful time because my nephew wasn't with us.

2011 - We hosted at our house, you can read about it here.   This was probably my best Thanksgiving ever!

'til next time...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Being thankful and eating, lots of eating...

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year.  We celebrated and feasted with family and some very dear friends!

And....the festivities all took place in our master bedroom.  A.K.A., our ongoing addition project.  One day, in the future as we are enjoying our new master suite, it will be funny and strange to think of all the entertaining we have done in that room. "oh, the parties we have had in here...."

Last year my parents and brother joined us for Thanksgiving, we sat in the addition and said "well, it sure is nice to use this area one more time before it is finished!  Next year we will have a real dining room to sit in!"


But it all worked out for the best.  We had a total of 16 people this year and would have been hard pressed to fit anywhere else in the house!  I did most of the cooking, it was a lot of work but also very fun to fix a feast.  Thanksgiving is a meal that I want to have many side dishes, that only works if you are cooking for a crowd.

Here is a picture of the adults table

and the picture of our feast...

The food was delicious and plentiful but the company and conversation was amazing. There were lots of laughs but also lots of deep thought provoking conversation too.  It was a perfect Thanksgiving for me!

'til next time...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Toddlers with fashion....or not

I love to dress my daughter in pretty clothes. I love all the beautiful dresses they make for little girls.

I love that at this stage in her life I can choose her clothes.

I realize this stage will not last long.

I also realize that my daughter and I may not see eye to eye on style of dress. She has her own style as evidenced by how she dresses every morning.

This is her "look".  

'til next time....

Addition update

Well,  that about sums it up.

'til next time...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reading...A Trick of the Light

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny.

I had to wait a bit for this book at the library, apparently Louise Penny is popular in my hometown!

This is the 7th book about Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. I continue to enjoy her books, the only complaint I have right now is that I will have to wait awhile for the next one!

These books should really be read in order. The first couple of books almost stood on their own but now there is so much background that you really need to read the previous books.  

I am so happy for Louise Penny and the success she is having as a writer.  From what she shares on her blog and Facebook page she seems to be a delightful person. 

Looking forward to book #8

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My love/hate relationship with Biscoff

When I was in Europe I had this marvelous spread that was wonderful on everything. You could spread it on fruit, on a baguette, crackers, probably even paper.  

I did not remember what the name was and failed to bring any home with me. I do not remember if Biscoff is what I had over there but it is remarkably close AND, my favorite grocery store in the whole wide world, a.k.a. Wegmans, stocks it. 

Now this is a good and a bad thing. 

Those are actually the exact words I would use to describe Biscoff. 

Good and bad. 

Good because it is delicious and addicting.  

Bad because it is delicious and addicting. 
And because there is absolutely nothing of nutritional value in it. 

But since it is the same consistency as peanut butter you can convince yourself that is has protein or something good. Or you can smear it on an apple and say "look! it is healthy, it goes on fruit!"

Basically, if you haven't tried it then please avoid it at all cost.  If you have tried it then you know what I am talking about and you are welcome to join my new group I am forming B.A., (Biscoff Addicts)

'til next time...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The reason I get up every morning...

You may have thought I was going to mention my husband, or my children, or any number of things that I have to be thankful for.  But hey, I'm trying to be honest here.

This is my favorite coffee mug in the whole wide world.  I have used it almost daily since 2001.  My mother found my a second one on Ebay, my family feared the depression I might sink into should I lose this mug!

And this is my latte, brewed effortlessly by my Tassimo machine. 

Best Christmas present ever! 

Thanks husband of mine!

'til next time...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reading...Franklin and Eleanor, An Extraordinary Marriage

Franklin and Eleanor, An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley.

I had heard about this book in an interview on NPR and have wanted to read it ever since.  There have been so many things written about the Roosevelts' that I was curious about someone writing yet another book.

I have to say I enjoyed it though I can see why some people gave it negative reviews. As with most biographies it is a compilation of other peoples writings, however in this book she does seem to frequently reference two other biographies for a lot of the information. So in that sense there wasn't a lot of new information about the Roosevelts. One thing she does emphasize is the community that the Roosevelts' built around themselves with their staff and friends.  It is remarkable when you think about the absolute loyalty that they inspired in others. One guy is quoted as saying "If FDR had asked me to jump out of a window I would have done so gladly." I am not sure that kind of loyalty exists these days. Or perhaps, we just do not have people that can inspire that type of loyalty.  I think the loyalty played a big part in the secrecy of their lives and the cover up of the extent of his health problems. These days the media is far too powerful to conceal the type of things that they hid from the American public, but the loyalty of those close to the family helped as well.  FDR was very careful to not be photographed in his wheelchair. He worked incredibly hard to get around on braces so that he appeared to be mobile. In fact, when he was elected President most of the American population knew that he had polio but didn't realize that he couldn't walk. Some accounts of people that met with him in person stated that upon meeting him they never even realized until later that he didn't walk. He was larger than life and you didn't really notice that his legs didn't work. In one account there was a rogue reporter that was trying to get a picture of him in his wheelchair. All of the other reporters crowded him out and made it impossible for him to get the picture.  A far cry from the paparazzi we have today.

I have previously read several books about the Roosevelts' and I would have said that I knew a fair amount about them. But for some reason I absorbed so much more this time. Maybe it is just the timing of reading the book.  I think being married I have a different perspective on their marriage than previously. There is no doubt that it is a baffling relationship but I believe there are a lot of lessons we could each learn from the Roosevelts'.

Reading this book makes me want to visit the Roosevelt museum at Hyde Park in New York. All in all, I recommend this book.

"til next time...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I was having a hard time finding a costume for my son that wasn't "too scary" or didn't have a mask on the face, etc.

Finally one day he said "I want to be a sheep".

I"m not going to lie and pretend that my heart swelled with parental pride.  But at least we had an idea for a costume he wanted to wear.

Of course Walmart and Target didn't have sheep costumes so I was either going to have to order one online (at a ridiculous price) or make it myself.

I opted for making one, after all, how hard could it be?

I found an idea online that looked to be "easy" and claimed to be a 2 hour start to finish project.  Basically it consisted of using a onesie and tacking batting onto it for the "woolly" look.

Simple, right?  

I'm sure you can read the sarcasm and have correctly guessed that it wasn't a two hour project.

The "tacking" took a lot longer than anticipated. In order to get the right look you had to bunch it up and stitch it every inch or so, took a lot longer than two hours...  I also had an issue because they don't have onesies for my son's size. So I had to make one using an old tee shirt.

After many hours of stabbing my fingers with the needles and getting the batting stuck on my fingers and catching on the skin around my fingernails....finally the costumes were all stitched together.

Did I mention this was all times two?  Since my son was going to be a sheep I decided to do the same for my daughter.

I tried the costumes on my kids, or rather, I tried to TRY the costumes on my kids. But couldn't even get them on, I hadn't accounted for the batting taking the stretch out of the onesie, so now it was too small.  So I ruthlessly ripped and separated the batting in the back, cut open the onesie and sewed it a few snaps. Once they had the costume on I just meshed the batting back together using my fingers.

To finish off the costume I used a white knit hat and sewed on "ears" made out of felt.

The most important part was the kids were happy with the costumes AND wore the costumes!

Next year I think they will just wear a sheet.

See how cute they were???

Doesn't that just melt your heart?

'til next time...