Sunday, August 28, 2011

I am my mother's daughter.

It's not like there ever was a question, but today I confirmed that I am, in fact, my mother's daughter.

I'm embarrassed to say that until a few hours before this blog post, I had never used a riding mower. Let me clarify: I have ridden a riding mower, like when I was a little girl and would hop on with my grandpa or when I was in college and one was decorated like a Mardi Gras float and I had a Hurricane (capital H) in my hand and it was a dare. Don't worry, Mom--no blades were involved! The actual usage of a mower never seemed like a good time, and I have been confused for decades about why my mom not only relishes this chore but treats it with the respect of training for a competitive sport. BG always handles the yard maintenance around here. And by this I mean he does the weekly mowing, edging, and weed-eating.

I've posted before about how I can tear up poison ivy, pressure-wash the hell out of a front stoop, and hedge an azalea bush until it begs for reprieve. But as for the normal grass-growing, weeds being obnoxious, lawn sprawling over into the sidewalk cracks? Meh. Where's the thrill?

BFF-J (J of the fabulous pillows) mentioned a while back that she and her hubby divide the work so that it doesn't take an entire day and doesn't seem like such a burden to either of them. "Genius!" I said. And then I felt dumb that this job-sharing idea had never occurred to me. And then I remembered how sweaty and stinky BG is when he comes in from handling the yard. And then I remembered why I had conveniently never thought of this before.

Today after Lil C went down for her nap, I got over my ew--hot! dirty! hang-ups, and BG and I divided and conquered. I was one with that lawnmower. I didn't even feel the sun beating down on me or mind the sweat dripping into my eyes. I learned not to fear the quick jolt of the mower as it goes from park to drive. I dodged little rocks and sticks while imagining I was Neo in those super-CGI fight scenes in "The Matrix" where he looks sort of like air and liquid at the same time... SUPER STEALTHY air and liquid. That was me!

Then I parallel-parked our mower under the carport like it was my job.

I felt like I could do anything. I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR, YOU OVERGROWN LAWN! And then, as if an idea bubble from a comic strip popped up over my head, I saw my mom kicking butt and taking names on her yard machine, and everything in the world suddenly made sense, if only for a moment.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Intimidation makes me grumpy.

The architect I mentioned before came by today. I had a big realization:  

Oh, hai, we don't know what the hell we are doing. 

I have heard from friends that if you design and build your own house, you have regrets. You will wish you had done many things differently, but you would have had to live in the space to realize it, and now it's too late. This was one of the 852 reasons we didn't build a custom home. But then we went and bought a project.

The unfulfilled potential idea haunts me as we try to make plans for the ballroom. Anecdotal evidence and my curmudgeony attitude say it is inevitable that we're going to have serious issues with whatever decisions we make, implement, pay for. Maybe the trick is to out-think the part of my brain that keeps firing the message "You can't use an iron to web-fuse burlap for drapes, so just how are you going to plan a major renovation" by accepting that truth and moving forward anyway. Worst-case scenario is that we end up with rooms that have funny proportions and feel like add-ons. If we can avoid that--no *invokes positive thinking* when we avoid that--we will consider our reno'd ballroom a success. 

But I am getting way ahead of myself. The next step in the process, because I know you're curious, is that the architect is going to give us a quote for his interpretation of the wish list we discussed this afternoon. We thought we were getting that today, but apparently I threw a lot at him, and he needs to digest the info. If the price is right, it's pencil to paper AutoCad to printer, and we start saving our pennies for the work. Very, very many pennies.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The sweet life

This is a deviation from my usual house update, but I'm feeling the love and am going with it. 

I used to work with a guy--a Southern transplant to DC--who cracked me up once by proclaiming, "Pie is the only dessert." Pate, if you're out there, thanks for the utterly quotable phrase! And I know someone who agrees with you. Pop, I say treat yourself to a bigger piece of that peach pie as a sweet birthday nightcap <3 Mwah! (This is a shout-out to my grandpa.)

And congrats and lots of love to my aunt and uncle, who celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary today. I was at that wedding! I don't remember much, but I hear the buffet was nice. This one's for you:

Lastly, welcome to the world precious baby Layla. I wish for you a long and happy life with lots of peach pie and Elton John and of course lolcats (the last for your mom's entertainment).


What can I say? Sometimes life is just too sweet not to share.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Break out the Kleenex

Friday a real live architect is going to come for a visit. I'm going to tell him my vision for the ballroom renovation and get a quote for the master plans. The first step is always planning. Gotta plan the space, make a budget, get quotes, cry in fetal position about the quotes, burn the budget while you get rip-roaring drunk and cry about how much everything costs, and then take out a second mortgage for the reno while trying not to cry in front of the banker. Or is that just me?

That's a lot of crying. I need to practice the "It's just happy tears!" speech for the kiddos. I hope Ballroom 2.0 is worth it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Crafty Shame--Part 2

When your second grader says, "Mom, that is what I call STYLISH," you know your project belongs in the garbage.

And that is exactly what happened when I covered a lampshade with fabric this past weekend.

Here is the lamp in its uncrafted and un-crapped-up state:


It's really fine. I wish I had left it fine. Where is that time machine I saw laying around? About five minutes after that pic was taken, there was no turning back.

The lamp and shade combo are about 10 years old, and I am frankly bored with the white. Plus it's a little dingy and a little dented and could use a little pizazz. What I *really* wanted was a gorgeous black drum shade. I thought it would be such a sophisticated, contrasting pop against the white walls of the foyer, where this lamp lives. Unfortunately, I fought my instincts and decided to go crafty and cheap.

Do you sense a theme? Yes, after back-to-back attempts at crafty and cheap resulting in humiliating and expensive (relatively, for fabric) mistakes, I've learned my lesson. When you have a vision for something, just save up and buy the thing--or a knock-off of the thing--you really want, unless you are a bona fide crafter, which, hey, you may be. I think crafty people know they are crafty, and posers like me know their limitations. And if I didn't last weekend, I do now--history being the best predictor of the future and all that cliched whatever.

If you need a wall repaired with joint compound or weeds whacked to hell and back out of an overgrown yard, I'm your girl. Otherwise, call my friend Stephanie :)

For your entertainment, I present pics of the shade gone bad.

(1) To the lamp-covering tutorial creators on the interwebz: Sure, your guidance worked great... if my lamp were preparing to walk down the aisle on her wedding day.


(2) And how about those seams, eh? No one has a good solution for this. The best that I can find is don't use a patterned fabric so the country-come-to-town hideousness isn't as obvious. Probably good advice in the end.


This weekend, we don't have much going on. I am planning a few projects, but I need to take my time and think through the details so I don't waste money, embarrass myself, and then seek absolution from blog readers.

As that lamp goes, I am reinvigorated to find just the right [store-bought] shade to complement it. Redemption is mine.

My Crafty Shame--Part 1

My last post was, as my little brother whose first language is txt-speak would put it, so sad face.


Time heals all wounds, and apparently it also gives me the courage to talk openly about my crafty disgraces in a public way.

As I mentioned in my very first blog post, our house has a ballroom. As obnoxious as it sounds, there really is no better word for it. It's a 1,024-square-foot addition that was created expressly for the wedding of the original owners' daughter back in the 80s. Our big girls coined "the ballroom" upon our first viewing of the house, and I'm not sure who could be better ballroom identification experts than two wanna-be princesses.

The ballroom has a bank of rotting casement windows along the back wall. Very long and stressful story short, we have replaced eight feet of the wood rot and have eight feet more to take care of. We're doing this in stages because we have big plans (of the secret variety...not to be unveiled yet; sorry!) for the ballroom.

In the near-term, the ballroom needs drapery to disguise the mis-matched window renovation. My awesome plan (<--this is retrospective sarcasm) involved burlap. Have you guys seen treatments like these? They are big right now in mainstream decorating catalogs. Examples:

Pottery Barn

Ballard Designs

Half Price Drapes

My instinct was to reject burlap as an option because of its trendiness, but tutorials online claiming the SUPER OMG SO EASY!!! AND CHEAP!!ness of the window treatments lured me right in.

What a fool I am!

I got as far as spending $90 on about nine yards (p.s., since when is $9.99/yard cheap for fabric, oh wise tutorial-putter-onners?!) and ironing down my seams with a particularly well known fabric bonding tape. (No free plug for them. I hate them.). This is where failure struck. That stuff just would not hold. No amount of ironing and begging would do. Maybe it was a gimp roll, right? I tried the second roll in the pack. No worky. No likey!

In a rage, I balled up the burlap and shoved it in a closet, where it still sits, stinking up the space with its disgustingly pungent hydrocarbons.

I actually had another craft fail that same day, and there's even photographic evidence. What sort of blogger would I be if I didn't share? See: Part 2.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Brownie Mix FAIL

I love to cook, but if I try to make something that comes from a box, it is a sure-fire bet that I will junk it up. I will burn it. Or over-stir it. Or add the little packaged ingredients to the bowl in the wrong order.

Apparently we can extend this fail rule to anything labeled "easy tutorial" on the Internet.

This was a painful and expensive revelation involving curtains for the big room we lovingly refer to as "the ballroom." Now I need to go eat ice cream and let my heart heal as the windows sit naked, mocking me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lindsey Buckingham sang it best

It is a freaking long way down the holiday road.

At about 11PM last night, BG and I returned from the beach with a van full of exhausted children. We set out Saturday for a beach adventure. Some people laughed and pointed. Some cried for us. "You're going to drive about 7 hours with four kids for a trip to the Gulf?" Yes. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. And, honestly, the kids were the best part. 

The following events took place, save for one. See if you can guess!

--We were in a wreck three hours into the drive

--Since it was Saturday, there were no repair shops open, so we drove four more hours without air conditioning

--The littlest G almost had heat stroke and had to be iced down in a McD's bathroom

--When we arrived at the condo, the "skywalk" from the parking garage to the condo-proper was without A/C

--Aaaaand one of the two elevators was down

--We waited an hour for the functional elevator

--Seventeen floors up, our friends met us with their two kids, who had both started running fever and had developed croupy coughs

--We went down all those flights of stairs to get to the pool that first night because there was just no way we were waiting another hour on the G family's "quest for fun" <--Clark Griswold

--Something at the beach bit me (miracle of miracles, with my luck, it wasn't a shark), and that bite is now festering and infected... Er, sorry for the disgusting imagery

--Back in the room for dinner, I burned myself on a pot of boiling pasta

--When my friend and I returned to the condo after a grocery run, we were nearly attacked by a mutant hermit crab scurrying around the [single working] elevator

--^This was after our friends were bullied by a real-live pirate

--^^OK, so not a PIRATE, but he had an eye patch and said "Arrrrrgh" while shuffling past them in line for elevator access

--These same friends got no sleep because of the sick babies 

--And they ultimately had to track down a pediatrician to call in a steroid prescription from three states away

--The second-to-littlest G started calling everyone "Poop Head" and just.wouldn't.stop

--Meanwhile, baby G, recovered from the heat, committed her first felony (Did you know that throwing shoes from a balcony in Florida was a felony offense punishable by law?)

--We had to be out of our condo at noon, even with late check-out, so we hung out at the pool for FOUR HOURS while we dared security guards via The Patented Hate Stare to kick us out 

--The local repair shop guy, who promised a ride from the condo to the repair shop to get our van, reneged, and BG had to pay $40 in cab fare

--BG didn't have the cash, so had to pay with his soul; only he didn't have one of those handy either

If it's true what Clark says, "Getting there is half the fun. You know that," it's DIY-staycations for the Gs from here on out!