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I don’t care for Valentine’s Day and I don’t care for decks. But if you tear my deck out on Valentine’s Day, you’ll have won my heart.

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There is a lot happening on the Parkway this week.

Our porch is just about finished–the floor is down and the columns need to be put back in. The floor–primer white in the picture–will need to be painted as soon as possible. We chose a muted green. The shutters are also going to get a new coat of paint, changing from that very unlovely shade of rust red (oh how i hate that color….) to a much more flattering green.

Tony finished stripping the last few shreds of wallpaper out of the Library and front hall, getting us closer to having those rooms painted, hopefully within a month.

So we’re finally back from vacation, having learned a few very valuable lessons:

1. Rosie likes rides that go very high and very fast. When we go to Disneyworld later this year, Space Mountain is a go!

2. Anthony does not like rides that spin around extremely fast. When we go to Disneyworld later this year, the Teacups are a no!

3. Without the benefit of a nap, and up hours past his bedtime, Anthony will lose his shit and holler “BOOBY!” in a nice restaurant. This is very embarrassing.

MOVING ON. Bright and early Monday morning, our porch renovation began. The columns were removed, and the rotting floor torn up. Unfortunately (although not surprisingly) the joists and other structures below had also rotted, so today they are being removed and rebuilt. If all goes well with that, the new floor should probably go in later this week.

The house looks kind of funny with no columns out front, like a kid who’s missing her front teeth.

The six roses I planted two weeks ago are leafing out beautifully, all but one, who is kind of inching along. This week we are finally done travelling and it’s not so soul-crushingly hot, so I should be able to put in all the rest of my new plants. I’ve got purple coneflower, daisies, black-eyed susans, pink and yellow coreopsis, chamomile and verbena all waiting patiently, under Rosie’s watchful eye.

I threw this window shade together this weekend with a few yards of scrap fabric and satin ribbon, and a spring rod. If anyone ever touches it (likelihood: high) it will fall down, but I wanted to experiment with the concept before making similar shades for our tv room (soon to be dining room). Only those will actually involve cutting and sewing (yikes!).

The weather was idyllic… the company was entertaining… the work was quick and easy… the beer was cold… if the unofficial First Weekend of Summer is any indicator, this might turn out to be the greatest summer of all time.

a new glove

floorboards must be primed on all sides before installation

progress-day one

child learns to fetch drink from cooler. survey says: awesome!

while waiting for the primer to dry, child helped clear overgrown ground cover. number of worms eaten: 3.

progress–day two

Well, I’m back from a brief blogging absence. Every year Derby is worse than Christmas: tons of hype and fun and things to do (and eat and drink) leading up to the big day, then POOF! it’s all over and in the vacuum you’re left wondering, what am I supposed to do for the rest of the summer?

In our case, what we are going to do is finish our living/dining room arrangement (no! really! i mean it!) and have our front porch renovated. As we continue to wail and gnash our teeth over our kitchen indecision, we’ve decided that we may as well tackle one of the other non-DIY-able projects on our list. For some reason our porch floor has deteriorated rapidly over the last year (actually, why be so magnanimous? the reason is that the previous owners installed it improperly and maintained it poorly, just like everything else. harumph) and it’s starting to feel a little… dangerous. So we’re having the old porch floor torn out… which means the columns have to be removed… which means some structure has to be built to support the roof… which is why this is totally not a DIY affair. But that’s not to say we aren’t helping… Tony and I will prime the new tongue-and-groove wood flooring before it is installed and paint it after the contractor is finished. We’ll probably paint our shutters and trim as well…. who wants to help us pick a color?

But back to Derby for a second. It’s widely known that Derby weekend is the greatest holiday of the year, involving a tremendous amount of anticipation and planning. It is also generally the first major outdoor event of the year for most people, although falling as it does in early spring–in the Ohio Valley–conditions¬† can range from snowfall to thunderstorms to 95-degree heat stroke. Needless to say, accurate weather forecasts are crucial on Derby weekend. One must balance the need to look fabulous with the demands of the weather, not to mention staying comfortable trackside for eight hours or so. Take last year, for instance: for Friday’s Oaks, the meteorologists predicted rain throughout the day, so we dressed down, wore appropriate shoes and rain gear, and had a damply wonderful time. This year, however, I am very sorry to report, was an undeniable DISASTER. After wildly ranging forecasts throughout the week, we woke up Friday to a forecast of partly sunny, no rain until after dark, possible storms overnight. Oh no! Derby may be rainy, but at least I won’t have to wear a parka! Yay me! So we eschewed parkas and sneakers for airy ruffles, linen and sandals. This is what it looked like outside early on Oaks day:

Rosie, sporting a Derby hat of her own creation.

This is what it looked like when we got to the racetrack three hours later:

Perplexing! This is partly sunny? Oh well, after a few rounds of mint juleps it didn’t seem so bad, and I figured, at least I won’t get sunburned. And then the skies opened up and the wind started to blow. A quick call home revealed that we were under a thunderstorm warning, a tornado warning, and, yeah, possible hail. SAY WHAT? How do you whiff on a thunderstorm warning, Mr. Weatherman? On the most important weather-related holiday weekend of the year?? So we took our sodden ruffles and soaked linen and wet feet under cover, staked out a friendly corner and resumed our Oaks day. I don’t have any pictures of that part of our day, because for the next six hours I was standing with a racing program in one hand and a drink in the other. When the Oaks went off, amid 40-mph winds and muddy mess, this was the view:

Dreadful. They lied! Jerks. The next day, Derby day, was lovely, of course. But I’m still a leeetle bitter about the way Oaks worked out. So if you ever see me in the headlines, “Woman Punches Weatherman in the Mouth,” now you know why.

While stripping wallpaper in the dining room over the weekend, I uncovered the word “Library” scrawled on the bare plaster. Same black pencil as the word “Parlor” I found in the living room. So, this house was built with a Parlor and a Library (cute!), but… where did they eat? Where did they sleep? The original floor plan of this house remains a mystery.

After many meetings and measurings and estimates, we’re back to the drawing board on our kitchen remodel. Which is kind of frustrating, but I’m keeping it all in perspective. Thinking about last week’s earthquake–on the very same day of the catastrophic San Francisco earthquake in 1906– helps keep me grounded: there is a very fine line between a terrible disaster and a fascinating act of nature that is scary only for a moment but is harmless in the end. I’m reminded daily how lucky we are to have what we have. Whether we remodel on a grand scale or a very conservative one (yes, please!), or not at all (urk), doesn’t matter.

WELL. Here we are at the new blog. With new news! Well, a little news. We got the second set of drawings from Pete, the kitchen designer (who, by the way, has been great to work with so far). He designed and quoted our kitchen with three separate elements: the perimeter cabinets, the hutch (a freestanding piece on the currently blank north wall), and the island. So we can configure the kitchen as our budget allows. The hutch, at over eight feet tall, eight feet wide and twelve inches deep, cost almost as much as the entire run of perimeter cabinets! Who knew?! So, as lovely as it would be, we’ll probably not install that at this time. The island? Maybe, maybe not. We may use an old 48″ round table that was our dinner table growing up, put that in the center of the kitchen to double as workspace and dining space.

The cabinets we are planning on are from DuraSupreme, and I was so excited to have a look at them in the showroom. They really are beautiful, sturdy, solid. They look “crafted” more than manufactured. And they have these soft-close thingies on the drawers so that when you close them, they kind of magically siiiiigh closed the last few inches–you can’t slam them! Fun! We picked the quarter-sawn oak door, in a simple recessed-panel style:

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We haven’t picked a countertop yet. Or appliances for that matter. We have to get our order placed in the next two weeks to hopefully take advantage of a promotion DuraSupreme is running, to save 12% on the cabinets.

It looks like we’re going to pull out (sounds so easy, doesn’t it??) the old chimney and put windows all across the back. You can see the chimney in this ooold picture, right in the middle there. It goes all the up from the floor through the ceiling. Taking it out would allow us to run cabinetry all across this wall, instead of being interrupted in the middle there, as well as adding another window (squeeee!). This of course all depends on having the contractor get another good look at it, but we’re hoping it’s feasible.

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This is a crazy process, so many decisions (so much money! yikes!). We’re trying to keep it all in perspective and focus on making this place OUR HOME. I can’t wait to really get started, and I really REALLY can’t wait to be finished.

There are little metal catches in the floor to hold the french doors in the front of the house closed. One in the entrance to the parlor, one in the entrance to the dining room. They are not quite identical, but I think you can tell which one sits in front of the completed room, and which one sits in front of the unfinished room which is making miserably slow progress.


Yargh. As I may have mentioned, this time of year IS SO NOT FUN. We had tornados (IT’S A TWISTER!) one week, catastrophic snow storms the next week. Global climate change has jacked us UP. That, combined with the usual seasonal affective boredom disorder, has meant we have really not made much headway in our ongoing debacle. HAH! I MEAN REMODEL.

So Saturday morning Tony got all motivated and started stripping wallpaper (again. sob.) in the dining room. Taking off layers two and three, which shall hence be known as The Blue and The Pink. It’s crazy, The Blue was hanging on to the plaster for dear life in the hall and Parlor, but in the dining room it just kind of chips off. Underneath it is The Pink, which has been coming up pretty easily as well. So we each put in 45 minutes to an hour of stripping and called it a day.

I have an appointment with the fabulous Contractor Guy on Thursday to assess the pit of despair that we call a kitchen. He has done awesome work at my sister’s house and apparently enjoys the challenges of old homes. AND HELLO, HE IS FROM WEST VIRGINIA. So, obviously we love him to death already. I intend to offer to pay him in pepperoni rolls and I’ll let you know how that goes over.

In other news, the short and loud half of our family continue to entertain us daily. Anthony is starting to talk a lot… real words even! He started with the obvious: “lunch.” And “car,” “juice,” and “that.” He uttered his first BIG long compound word last week, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that it was “meatball.” Followed a few days later by “basketball.” Or, actually it might be “baseball.” Whichever. Rosie has been painting and doing “crafts” at every opportunity and is getting good at writing her name. One entire wall in our kitchen is filled with her construction paper paintings, and she kindly pointed out that now we don’t need wallpaper, we can just user her ART instead. Which is actually not the worst idea I’ve ever heard….

On to the pictures. As always, click to enlarge.

Here is Tony stripping The Blue and revealing The Pink. Which, actually, in these pictures it looks like The Brown, because it’s wet. It’s got the cutest pattern of white Queen Anne’s Lace on it. I would totally buy that wallpaper.


Art class. For future reference, if you lick that glitter glue there, it WILL make your diaper contents sparkly.

Jumping off of furniture turns out to be a good way for The Short And The Loud to combat the dreaded winter cabin fever. I haven’t tried it yet myself. But I’m close…