Monday, June 28, 2010

This is the part of homeownership I don't like

When something breaks.

And that something is needed pretty badly.

Our central air stopped working last night.

It was over 85 degrees yesterday with lots of humidity.

We are not happy campers.

I know, it could be worse, but it's more of an annoyance than anything else. Besides college owned apartments that I lived in for 2 years, this is the first time I've lived with central air. I didn't grow up with it, and I don't know how I managed to escape childhood sans A/C. Turtle did grow up with it, and when we lived in the condo we only had window units in our bedroom and living room--which made things miserable when it came time to cook.

Fortunately (well, not for HIM) Turtle is off today so he can call for someone to come take a look at our unit (IF someone is available!). Luckily we kept the window units when we moved, so if we don't have working A/C tonight, we're popping in one of those bad boys. And so funny, because yesterday I was looking at them, thinking "we should think about getting rid of them..."

I'm going to physical therapy early this morning, just to sit in their A/C, because right now it's 79* at my house, with 77% humidity. GROSS. I'm glad that I can go to work in (nice) shorts and a t-shirt...and don't have to wear makeup or do my hair. I don't look great, but I feel hot on the inside!

Oh, check out today's forecast:

Scattered T-Storms
Scattered T-Storms
87° F
Precip: 60%

I cannot WAIT to see how much this will cost....

Saturday, June 26, 2010

So much to do, so little time

Who hasn't uttered this phrase, or at least thought about it?

I'm probably over exaggerating, and when am I not (?), but it feels like there is SO MUCH TO BE DONE AROUND HERE. Especially with working full time, commuting 1/2 an hour each way every day, appointments, regular household chores.... And those household chores are never done, or being put off because I'm tired or something else comes up...sigh. I would love to have a household that's up and running. Maybe someday?

Confession time:
We are not fully unpacked from when we moved in, 8 months ago. It's not anything major that needs to be put away, but still, there are a few boxes and things not put away in our front room. In most American colonials this would be the "formal living room that no one ever goes into except when Great Aunt Helen comes over." Well, for us it's our library/office and we have no Great Aunt Helen! Part of the reason is because since the stuff isn't in our way, why bother putting it away? When we were renting the condo (home before here), it was really small so we couldn't afford to be climbing over things. Now, it's like "meh, who cares?" I really should care, though!

We are not really decorated. Save a few icons on the wall, a crucifix and three, count 'em! THREE pictures on the wall, that is it. No wedding pictures, no family pictures, nothing. This is sad. Not really any decorative items, either (vases, baskets, etc.). I am trying to keep the house minimalist at best (both for my sanity and my budget) but this is bordering on "no one lives here." And it's not like I don't have plenty of stuff. I do. Most of the decorating stuff is still in boxes/bags.

We have only painted one room. The family room. It's a pretty sage green color...but that was it. My first time painting, too. I was really excited and gung-ho, and then it fizzed out. I finished JUST before Christmas, and then I took a break, then I broke my hand, and and and. The bathrooms should be painted, only because the PO did a horrific job on them, and I think that would add a small touch of "my home" to the rooms. The other rooms need to be done professionally only because those are the rooms we live in (our bedroom, the kitchen) and I couldn't do that to myself or Turtle. When I paint, the house shuts down. It happened with the family room. No TV for almost 2 months!? It was crazy. Could you imagine if I painted the kitchen myself? We'd never eat in the house again. (Kidding) The kitchen does need some work done on the ceiling (not sure if the taping is the problem) so I'll have someone do that, and they might as well paint the entire room if they are here. Plus, I don't know how to paint the wall that is above the cabinets. I'm a tall girl. I wouldn't fit! Better to let a professional deal with it. I'm saving money for this, so while it might not be done soon, it will be done.

I'm sure I'm not the only one with these weird confessions about her house, but sheesh, I really thought I'd be rearing to go when we moved in. I admit, I was overwhelmed. Me and too many choices do NOT mix well. So many rooms, what to put where, we don't have a lot of stuff--all of these things rattled around my brain. It was almost like I was afraid to commit a table or basket to one room, when that is so silly because I could just MOVE it if I didn't like it. I also know that part of the hold up was my hand, and then it got really nice outside, so we've been working a lot on the yard and garden. That's normal--I can't do that in December! I can paint whenever and I can put stuff away whenever. Who knows, maybe in October I'll be decorating and painting?

I really should be off of the computer and working on a pile or box. Ha. But it's time to unload the dishwasher and take out the compost. Oh, compost. I should write a post about that, too....

EDIT: I just tweaked my Things to Do bar...and maybe things are coming along better than I'd previously thought!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hydrangea Hype!

I have loved hydrangeas since the first time I saw them in my aunt's wedding bouquet, over 15 years ago. My mom has grown some in her gardens over the years, and I've always had to steal bouquets for my house. I just love the blues and purples (two of my favorite colors!) and the big snowball-like blooms. This past Easter, my mom gave me two small plants for my own garden. After we planted them, I wasn't sure how they would do. Luckily, the local garden center offered a class, which I attended yesterday. The instructor talked about the different types of plants that are out there--did you know there are "tree" types of hydrangeas and climbing hydrangeas? I had no idea. I had always seen the ones like the in the picture I posted above. While those new types aren't really my style, it's nice to know that there are other varieties out there. The best thing that I got out of the class was knowing more about how to take care of the plants--when to prune them, when to transplant them (if necessary), how much sun they should get. Unfortunately, when I spoke to the instructor after the class, he seemed to think that the ones my mom gave me (often called "florist hydrangeas") will not last the winter, and not to be surprised if they don't come back in the spring. While I'm a little sad at the waste of planting and my mom's money, I now know more about what to get for next year, if I choose to go that route.

In other news, my hand is slowly getting back to normal. I've had the pins out for almost a month now, and I've been attending physical therapy twice a week, trying to regain the strength in my fingers. You're probably thinking, "I thought she broke her hand?" Yes, I only broke one bone in my hand, but the way that the surgeon positioned my hand and fingers while the pins were in left me stuck in a not-so-great position for the long term. It caused some serious atrophy and stiffness in my fingers, mostly my pinky. I still cannot fully extend it, and bending it all of the way (like I can on my other hand) is really difficult. The hand is fine--the bone is healed, there is very little pain. I'm very lucky. However, this pinky issue is quite annoying, but I'm optimistic that I'll regain most of the strength and flexibility. I have to wear one sort of brace at night, one during the day, one for a few minutes during the day...and I get to play with Play-Doh! Well, not really, but similar. Actually it's more like Silly Putty. It helps me with my flexibility--I mash it, knead it, roll it. It's good for stress relief too ;-) Then I have "boring" exercises--bend and stretch!

OK, time to go do some laundry and clean the stuff! It's kind of damp and cloudy here--it looks like the sky could open up at any moment--so no outdoors today. I'm itching to lay down more black plastic and mulch--this time in our front yard. The side of the house looks so great, I want everything else to look like that! There's always something to do around here, I'm learning...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Here's something I don't get

And maybe it's because of where I live (New England).

I subscribe/lurk/whatever on a lot of blogs that talk about frugality and simple living. Good blogs, nice people, great tips.

What puzzles me is how some people manage to eat well (organic, Trader Joe's/Whole Foods, farmer's markets, etc) AND eat meat! for as cheaply as they do. Some of my blogger "friends" are vegetarian, some limit the types of meat they eat (ie, no red), so I see the savings there, but then there are others who eat a significant amount. I'm guessing they don't live around here...

Why is it that food prices vary so much? It's really annoying. Yes, we eat meat. Pretty much every day--always at dinner. But even vegetables. Fresh produce can be ridiculous. We shop around, and pick the market with the best sales each week, so that helps a bit. I'm thankful that we have 3 different stores from which to select our food--I know in some places, it's one store or you have to schlep to another one miles and miles away. And there are food deserts, too.

I'm stumped as for what I can do. TJ's and WF's are a ways away, so I couldn't run there all of the time, and honestly, that part of the equation isn't 100% important to me. What's most important is healthy, fresh food and not to pay through the nose for it. Meats, produce, grains, fish, etc.

There are only two of us in this house. It is CRAZY how much money we spend on food, for ONLY two people, each week/every two weeks. God help us when/if we have a child and that child becomes a teenager!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Saturday of house stuff

Turtle had Saturday off (a rarity) because Memorial Day was his regular day off. His company offered yesterday as a "trade" and he took it. It was awesome to have two days off together.

We went to two places and looked at their stoves. There's really not much to say about the shopping experience, since there's not much selection. Basically you pick a company and a size. Maybe a color if you want a fancy door. We'll be going with matte black, thankyouverymuch. So really all we have to decide is the WHEN. When to order/buy and when they'll come out and do it.

Besides the wood stove shopping, we also hit up a local farm market (not a farmer's market) and a nursery. Got some whiskey barrels and plants to put in the front of the house. We got two of the red cedar ones (looks just like the one on the right).

We're partial to New Guinea Impatiens, so we got some of those in hot pink and light pink, but we also got some grasses to put in the center. Turtle says it's good for "height." They are on either side of our walkway, right before you go up the steps to the porch. Next weekend, I hope to lay down more of this black plastic stuff (it blocks weeds) so that I can finish the landscaping in front of the house. I hope to be able to extend the front bed and put down mulch, as well as doing a few other things, similar to this picture below...

My parents have these Belgian blocks (the white/grey rectangles closest to the grass) along their flower beds and walkways at their house. They ended up buying too many a few years ago when they installed the blocks, the remainders being left to sit in a pile on the edge of their property. They said that we could have them, which is a fabulous little gift! I would love to put them all around our yard, but it's not so important to have them in the back just yet. The front of the house and the left side (east side) would be a better start.

Speaking of the east side, since that's almost done, we have a new addition. Our neighbors gave us some irises yesterday so we planted those in front of the chimney. We plan on moving the existing irises from the back yard over here, too. (Just as soon as I find out when it's OK to transplant them, haha.) The hydrangeas that we planted are still doing well, and I'm taking a hydrangea class next weekend! I think we'll end up making the back yard's flower bed area (it was never really fully landscaped) into a vegetable garden of sorts. There are two tomato plants there now.

I figured out what the stuff popping up around the basement door was--it's some kind of daisy! I saw the exact same plant at the nursery yesterday, and last night I checked ours--there are buds starting already! Very exciting.

If this weather would decide what it's doing--it would be wonderful. It's hot, but one minute it's cloudy, then it rains...then the sun comes out...then it goes away. I just want to finish working on the house so it looks nice, but it's difficult when the weather won't cooperate!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wood stoves in June

It's 83 degrees today in our neck of the woods...and we're going to look for a wood stove today. GOOD TIMES!

We have a fireplace already (which had never been used in the 7/8 years this house has existed), but we know that stoves burn better and heat a home more efficiently than just a fireplace. Plus, I have "connections" to all the free wood I could ever want. So thanks to our tax refund, we'll be able to fund this upgrade.

More to come, post-shopping.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

This time, a real post

HELLO everyone!

It's 6:30 am and I'm up, drinking a smoothie, and blogging. Usually I'm still asleep, trying to catch a few more winks before the alarm BLARES in my face. I was up before 6 today. I haven't had any coffee yet. I have a load of laundry in the washer. This is too weird.

I think, after being so helpless for about 6 weeks, because of the cast and pins, my body and my spirit are thinking "LETS GO!!!!" Over the long weekend, I accomplished so much around the house--a little bit of cleaning, a little bit of yard work. It was really nice.

So what's been going on with me lately? Or, should I say, since I broke my hand? Haha. That's about 6 weeks worth of stuff...and it wasn't all too exciting.

I can talk about gardening, since it is spring and a lot has been going on...

At first, there was a feeble attempt at weeding the eastern side of the house. I had to sit on my butt to pull the weeds, since I couldn't put pressure on my left hand. That was interesting. Turtle helped, but he's really not into weeding. So by last weekend, the weeds had returned and looked terrible. We'd planted two hydrangeas on that side of the house just after Easter, but you'd never know it since the weeds were encroaching....and fast. Last weekend, I weeded a bit, then Turtle and I laid down some black plastic/paper stuff that is supposed to help keep weeds at bay. Then we put down mulch on that side of the house, over the black stuff. Let's see how this goes. There's nothing else planted over there right now, besides the hydrangeas, but I like the minimalist look. Plus, the mulch makes that side of the house look SO much cleaner/neater than it did prior to us doing ANYTHING. Have I mentioned that the previous owners (POs) didn't do much landscaping??

In the front of the house (north side), there were a bunch of shrubs and bushes, such as azaleas and rhododendrons. There were also these two barberry bushes. I don't know if you've seen one, but they aren't really that nice. Also, they have PRICKERS. Not fun. I don't know why someone would plant these--they must have been cheap. The front porch needs to be painted and we wouldn't have been able to do so, because of these nasty guys. Turtle and his dad pulled them out a few weeks ago, and now the front of the house doesn't look so...choked? We also discovered that one of the bushes is indeed a smaller lilac variety. I LOVE LILACS and was so excited to find out what that deliciously smelling plant was! Over this weekend, I weeded the two beds (there's one on either side of the walkway up to our house) and pulled out all of the rocks that the POs had used as a border. Not really my style (they were just random rocks they found in the yard), plus they hadn't done a good job of maintaining the border, so the earth was starting to shift and go OVER the rocks. We plan on extending the bed that's on the north east side, so that the two beds are even. I like symmetry :-) Not sure about what we'll plant...we need something that's lower to the ground, since there are bushes already there... But it'll be a fun challenge to figure out what to plant.

In the backyard (south side), there's not much, but along the garage wall, I noticed that there were some green things popping up. Two weeks ago, they blossomed into IRISES! Very pretty deep purple ones. Turtle's dad gave us two tomato plans, and we stuck those a few yards down from the irises. Last night, I noticed that they already have flowers!!! There's not a real garden there...but the grass didn't really grow, and it looks as if the POs had tried to start some kind of bed? I don't know...we plan on turning it into a bed of sorts. Probably for vegetables. We wanted to do a HUGE veggie garden this year, but there's just so much to do when you have a new house that we decided to wait until next year. Probably a wise decision. There's also something popping up around the basement's thick and really green. I think it might be echinacea, just looking at the dead stuff from last year, but we'll see. This is the best part of being a new homeowner, looking to see what surprises unfold in the garden! We also have a deck in the back, and I'm not going to plant anything around or near that since Turtle and his dad have some work to do on that, first.

The west side of the house is mostly the side of the garage, which faces the main road. It is desperately in need of a power washing. Very green. (Our house is beige) I don't think we'll be planting much/anything's very shady and damp.

The grass is getting greener. When we first moved in, it was mid-fall and things looked pretty bleak. We had many comments from the neighbors! Well, I don't know if Turtle has a green thumb, or we just care more than the POs or what, but we've actually gotten COMPLIMENTS on how the lawn is looking! We do have a lawn service that comes every few weeks to put down lime or some fertilizer, but everything else is on us. I'm not 100% keen on having a service...but the pesticides are at a minimum and things lawn-wise were pretty bad. Maybe next year we won't need it?

ACK! Time to go get ready and get off to physical therapy before work. Yes, they have hand PT. My hand is still pretty stiff and I can't extend my pinky all the way, but there's hope. And exercises. Lots of them.

I wrote a ton about gardening and there's so much more to talk about that's been going on around here. Hopefully I'll have more time soon to hop back is busy and the fact that a lot of stuff is now blocked doesn't help.