Friday, January 30, 2015

Louisiana Travels Part One

I was sure that I'd clicked the button to publish yesterday's post but apparently it went to drafts instead!  SIX days ago!!!  

I've been tooling around Louisiana for a week and am just getting a minute to sign onto Blogger. 

I'm back in LA for the yearly gathering of girlfriends at Carol's camp which has become an every other year event for me.  2011 was the last time that I was still living in Louisiana and could make an easy 45 minute drive to attend.  Since then I've missed a year  (2012-due to house construction), flown down in 2013, and missed last year (2014).   

The lower cost of gas and plans to linger longer in Zachary and Baton Rouge made driving the best way to get there this year and besides I was looking forward having the luxury of  some hours of reflection while driving.  

I was ahead of schedule to arrive at the camp so made a stop in Jackson MS in order to pick up a few groceries at Whole Foods, wander in my favorite southern bookstore “Lemuria” and buy bread from Broad Street Bakery. 
During my  first visit to Lemuria in the 80's, I bought Carter a book about Lego's;  and now he's in his mid 30's??!!  How has so much time passed?  

The camp is just over the Louisiana border south of Woodville MS.  When I arrived it was chilly and damp but the drizzle that I'd been driving through all day had finally stopped! 

I had to laugh when I made my final turn and looked at the road sign that greeted me.  It wasn't a "Dead End" as far as I was concerned!  It should have said "Friends Ahead" or "You're Here!   I'd gone more than 900 miles and about 1/2 mile past the dead end was the place I was heading for!
No cell service, ensures that the “Girls” Retreat/Reunion remains a true getaway.  

Everyone takes turns preparing a meal….

Sunrise over the pond…..

View of the camp from the pond levee

As you might expect there's a lot stories shared and plenty of considerate listening.

I’m honored to be a part of this unusual gathering of women. 

Three days at the camp passed quickly and it was time to get back in the car.   My plans to visit our former church and the cemetery in St Francisville changed.  Rather than take a nostalgic and perhaps sad trip down memory lane at my parent's graveside, I instead went straight to Paige’s.  

How best to describe the next three days? 
Talking and eating!  We had a lot of catching up to do and plenty of meals to do it over.

But like a dummy, I didn't think to snap any photos of the two of us or even one of the pets.

Sometimes I'm so caught up in a moment that it never occurs to me that it will end, or perhaps I was in a food induced stupor; but either way, photo taking never entered my brain except for this one moment when I wanted to brag to Joe via a text that I was eating a Jay's Po-Boy!

Likewise I didn't take a group photo at dinner with the Steibs or Williams. 

I'd a lot rather have some photos of dear friends than one of a sandwich. What was I thinking?

More to come...... 

More Laundry Room and a Painters Holiday

The spices took an afternoon,
but the laundry room cabinets are still a work in progress.  

They come looking like this 
and with the magic of a few screws....
The insides are pre-finished perfectly and left plain, 
but I paint the front edge so that it matches the overlay doors. 

There will be three sections stacked, joined together and screwed to the wall.  Filler pieces affixed to the sides will make it look built-in and there are several shelves for each cabinet.

This is the view toward the laundry room from the sofa area of the den.  
I usually keep the pocket door closed 
because of the stack of plastic bins and tubs that have been towering in plain view behind the hole.
It won't be long before the door can stay open to show the cabinet!
Joe is working on leveling and screwing together the sections 
and who knows maybe he'll knock out something else on our list, while I'm on a "painter's holiday"!
Road trip! 
Off to Louisiana!!!!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Spice Drawer Rehab

 We came up with a massive things that need to be completed or started in the house. 
Some are daunting (the pantry and garage doors) 
while many are small details like a couple of missing door stoppers.  

This is one of the littler manageable ones,
but even I'll admit that this post that may have you thinking that I need to join OCD Anonymous. 

Lurking behind inside this seemingly neat corner by the stove
was my mess of a spice drawer.
A jumble of tins and bottles sliding around
and stacked 2 deep on their sides 
since the bottles were 1/4" too tall to stand up in the drawer.
Not awful but the containers were stuffed in willy-nilly.  

Last summer I saw a Brother labeler on close out and bought it planning to get organized.  
It's been languishing in it's box ever since but finally got to see the light of day!  
I don't know when I've seen such a lame excuse for an owners manual, 
but eventually I got a the better of it and was able to churn out some labels 
for the spice drawer rehab.
Meet the players:
a few large glass jars with seals for large and bulk spices, 
tins with clear lids for easy pinching of leafy herbs, 
and glass bottles with removable sprinkle caps the right height to stand up in the drawer.

With the help of a coupon and sale, my World Market purchases came to about under $50.

The garage may be a wreck but the spice drawer is perfection!  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Laundry Sink Cabinets: Finished!!!

After a little more than a week of paint drying
(isn't that supposed to be the most boring thing ever?) 
Joe attached the lovingly painted fronts to the six drawers
and the hinges to the two doors.
Then it was time for him to take a deep breath,
put on his glasses, 
and say a prayer asking for the courage 
to drill into the cabinet fronts for the handles.

After all my painting,
I'll admit that I might have had a total meltdown if he had mis-drilled ...  :) 
Because he wanted a happy wife,
it was a case of measure 25 times and drill once!

And he did it perfectly!

Why in the world did it take us 2 years to get this done???
The Barker cabinets are terrific!

I've almost convinced myself 
that I could survive devoting a few weeks of my life to painting
in order to use them in the pantry.
(Yet another project to be done this year!)
Dovetailed drawers, formaldehyde free
a gorgeous finished maple interior,
soft close hinges and drawer glides.
Solid US wood and totally sourced and made in the US.

I wavered back and forth between using "fun" and colorful handles or knobs
but traditional and classic won the day 
and I ordered more of the same bronze pulls that I used in the kitchen.

Halfway through the month and already one project checked off the list!
This morning I was in the mechanical room putting the final coat 
on the six cabinet doors
which will be opposite the sink cabinet.

Part Two of the laundry room project:
The cabinet boxes are assembled (Barker again)
and Joe has work to do getting trim pieces cut;  
while I take a break and watch paint dry!
Products/colors used:
Cabinets: Barker (Paint Grade Adler and Maple Front, Boxes Prefinished White Maple), 
                 "San Francisco" Door Profile
Cabinet Paint:  "Feather Down" Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo 
Handles:  Hamilton Sinkler Tradiitional DP collection Bronze Pulls
Walls:  "Inner Balance" Benjamin Moore Regal Eggshell
Counter and Backsplash:  Quartzite/Slate with Murano Glass Accent in Lagoon
Floors:  Terrazo Tiles
Sink:  White Kohler Glen Falls with Grohe Concetto Faucet

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Primer on Priming

Another true confession:  I enjoy painting.  
Somehow over the years, I've gotten good at it 
and learned to control the brushes without a need for tape and other aids.
I use quality tools:  the best level of Benjamin Moore paints, 
Purdy paint brushes in a variety of sizes, 
Zinzer sealers and primers.  

I've come a looooong way since our newlywed days 
when I bought a Kmart enamel 
(and I'm sure the cheapest brush ever made)
to paint the bathroom walls of our rental a brilliant kelly green. 

The "stunning" effect of the green with the stark white trim lasted about 24 hours
when following the first steamy shower
the paint ran down the walls turning the snow white window and baseboard trim
into the the color of algae 
and looking like a bad tie dye job!

So looking back, I've learned a lot since then and 
painting is a process that I enjoy.....
Except for primer.  

As much as I like to paint:  I really, really, really (truly) dislike priming. 

Raw beautiful wood 
Door backs about to be primeed
becomes ugly after priming. 
There's no other way to put it.... priming turns lumber into a blotchy streaky mess. 

The first time I used BIN primer, 
I stressed out trying to make it perfect
which is totally the wrong method.

It dries in seconds:  literally.
You can't brush back into it.  
Now I map out a plan of attack and rapidly paint it on without worrying about coverage.

After the second coat of primer, 
it looks a tad better but a smooth "painted" finish isn't possible with BIN.
The cabinet door below has two coats of primer on the center panel and one on the outer sections.

Even after 2 coats, the primer still looks pretty yucky.
Why use BIN primer?  
Because when it's dry and ready to sand, the magic happens.
That's when I forget about what a pain it is to use a product that dries too quickly, 
requires an ammonia cleaning of the brushes 
and has fumes that would kill a canary. 

With the lightest of touches and a gentle sanding sponge,
 BIN sands like chalk 
and the surface becomes smooth as silk.
Zinzer makes some terrific products and BIN is one of them.  

There's been a whole lot of painting (and priming) going on down in the mechanical room!

Two coats of primer on the door backs
followed by sanding and tacking off.
Then 2 coats of paint (Satin Impervo) with at least a 12 hour dry time between each. 
After a few days curing, the panels were flipped over 
and I started the process anew on the cabinet fronts.
Finished sink cabinet drawer fronts and doors
The hardest part was waiting a week for the final coat to cure 
so that Joe could screw everything together and add the handles.

Photos of the finished sink cabinet tomorrow!!!  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Years Goal #1

It's true confession time. 
We live in a gorgeous home....
But we did what we said we'd never do:
we didn't finish it.  

In our defense, the construction drug on and on .....
and on and on....
We were working until the wee hours each evening painting, sanding and sealing.
When we finally moved in after 20 months, 
there were still major chunks to finish 
and we planned on getting to them soon.  


Instead I forgot all about my paint brushes 
and we've been enjoying life.  
If any friends or visitors noticed the unfinished aspects of the house,
we honestly didn't care.   

And while we still don't worry what others think,
it's finally begun to bother us.

So stand aside for New Years Goal #1:
We're going to finish this place!  
There are several big projects and quite a few nagging little ones.

On New Years Day, I got reacquainted with these old pals....
In order to tackle the unfinished area that's been bothering us the most:
the laundry room!

The combination of slate and glass tile behind the sink, 
the big window (ignore the lack of curtains)
and the terrazzo floor make it a bright cheery space.
But isn't something missing?
Cabinet doors and drawers?
(also ignore the junction box on the backsplash) 
The pathetic thing is that for over two years, 
we've had rest of the cabinets down in the mechanical room.
We ordered them from Barker Cabinets in Oregon; 
custom made but knocked down 
and ready to finish and assemble on site.  

During the final stages of construction,
our carpenter assembled the sink cabinet
so that it could be tiled in and plumbed.
I painted the side panel and this is the way its been....
for TWO years!!  
It took the better part of a day to 
find all the parts
and remember which 
paints, primer, sandpaper and brushes 
were the correct ones to use.  

Darned if I even had a hard time remembering what the paint color was supposed to be!  

Status for the week:
two coats of Bin Primer with a sanding between each coat,
followed by a coat of  Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo 
thinned with just a bit of Floetrol to minimize brush marks. 
Tomorrow I'll put the second/final coat on the front faces!  

Knobs are on order and after a few days curing time,
the drawers and doors will be ready for Joe to attach.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Holiday Summary!

I’d better write something 
before GoDaddy and Blogger decide that I’ve died 
and give my domain name to a Capital Hill newspaper!

Is it possible to do a summary of the past weeks?  

Bridge games and dinners with friends have been numerous.
We've tried to balance that with outdoor activities such as 
slaying the nasty autumn olives that are taking over our woods
and riding and hiking.  
Friday Hiking Group
End of the Hike to Devil's Marbleyard
View from the base of the Marbleyard
One sure way to get Joe to go somewhere is to offer food.
He doesn't often come hiking, 
but was lured in by Alan and Debbie's soup party 
after the short hike to Panther Falls.
Panther Falls
The house is getting old enough that there have been a couple of repairs.  
One was a doozy:  replacing a lower post on the rear of the house. 
About to start framing and jacking:  Notice the spiral twist to the nearest post?
We had hoped that the gentle twist 
which began shortly after the house was built would stop, 
but it continued until it began to impinge on the integrity of the upper post 
and general support for the roof.  
We were nervous as cats during the 10 days it took to get the job done,
but it went off without a hitch.  Phew!  

Three “F’s” (Family, Friends and Food) 
were the theme of our trip to Louisiana for Thanksgiving.  
We crammed every minute with visiting (and eating). 
With Randy and Carol
You'd have thought we were feeding an army!
We never made it up to the northern part of the parish 
since we stayed at Randy’s house in South BR.  
However, I’m already planning a return trip for January 
that will include St. Francisville and our old stomping grounds in Zachary.    

There was music in the air at the end of 2014!  
We enjoyed a date night at a Catie Curtis concert in Harrisonburg, 
Lessons and Carols at W&L,
and the highlight of the Christmas social scene:  
The Four Piano Monster Singalong at the Krantz'. 

Sometimes I think we're crazy but we're still at our part time jobs.
Giving tours at Lee Chapel for Joe 
and working at Ladles & Linens (the kitchen shop) for me.

And of course Christmas!! 
We weren't able to share the holiday with Owen, Kathleen or Chris,
but who knows maybe next year will have us all together?

 The newest "tradition" of each family member 
planning and cooking a meal at some point during their visit went splendidly again!  
Carter made a chicken mole that was out of this world, 
and Asher prepared Pastitsio (a Greek Noodle Casserole) 
which not only tasted delicious but made the entire house smell heavenly.  
Clark and Raeanna made several awesome meals 
(Butternut Squash Enchiladas was an especial favorite) 
during their Advent visit.  
Owen even mailed in some Pralines which he made from my father's recipe. 
 I enjoy cooking so I'm pleased that 
“The apples didn’t fall far from the tree,” 
as the saying goes! 

Clark and Raeanna flew in from Washington state for a week pre Christmas.  
They were sweet enough to tag along with my Friday hiking group
and lower the median age substantially!
Clark and Raeanna hiking to Crabtree Falls
And of course I was delighted to spend time with Carter and Asher Christmas week!
Me with Carter and Asher.... dropping Asher at the C'ville train station
So that was the end of 2014.... time to move forward!  

Resolutions for this year? 
I’ve always been one to prefer the subtle difference of “goals” rather than resolves.  

I’ve settled on two goals for 2015 
and I'm already making slow painful progress on one of them!

I'm going to do my best to post again tomorrow but it isn't a sure thing.

Sadly the internet on the hill is kaput.
Oh for the good old days of unlimited cable! 

The only drawback to having young holiday visitors 
who are tethered to their various Apple phones, iPads and laptops
is our resultant “throttled”/nonexistent internet 
which now requires either buying more bandwidth 
or making the trip into the town library!

But seeing family at the holidays:  Priceless!!