The last 2 weeks in pictures

Its been a very eventful past 2 weeks and I gotta share. First things first -- my good friend Heather D. came to visit!! We've been friends since 1999 but hadn't seen each other in over 6 years. She came all the way from Portland, Oregon, and it was so good to have her here. And as if that wasn't enough, Ryan came from Chicago to visit too! I got so spoiled having such good pals in town and it was hard to see them both go.

Here are some highlights --

Smoky Mountains

Ruby's first hike

She made it to the top!

mountain man (hubba hubba!)

beautiful fall colors

a Smoky Mountain katydid

The Sunsphere

view from inside the Sunsphere

carving party! pumpkins by (from left to right): Heather & Libby, Seth, Ryan

yea Heather was in Tennessee! This was after an awesome hockey game that included 7 fights AND funnel cake. Can't beat it.

And that's all for now. I have lots more to post about (like some awesome thrift store finds, Halloween 2007 costumes, and a FINISHED KITCHEN), and hopefully I can get to them in the next couple of days.

Hole in the wall

I feel like I've gotten 2 mini-educations these past 2 months. First I got a Bachelors of How to Buy a House, and I now know what PMI is and how escrow works and that the $ figure estimate that real estate websites list for the monthly payment for a specific house are not at all accurate. Then I moved on to work on my Masters of Home Improvement Projects, with a concentration in Sanding. I wish I never had to sand anything ever again, but I know I will because sanding really is important and it works wonders. You know what else works wonders? Toothpicks. After the cabinets were painted and I started putting the new hardware on the doors and drawers, I realized that the screws that came with the hinges were too skinny for the holes that were already in the doors from the old hinges. I trotted off to Home Depot for the three-thousandth time to buy fatter screws, and I luckily found an extremely nice employee who had "been wood-workin' for 30 years" that saved the day. He told me to cut up toothpicks and put them in the holes first and that would make the screws fit tight enough to keep the hinges on. And it worked! I love little tricks like that.

So after successfully refinishing the floors and getting the cabinets painted with new hardware and hanging again, I sort of feel like anything can be done with enough research and advice from handy Home Depot employees. Which is why a hole below the bathroom sink where an old pipe used to be seemed like no big deal to fix.

And you know, it was no big deal! It couldn't have been easier, actually. Its amazing what kind of gadgets are out there...any kind of problem you can imagine, there is something out there to fix your specific problem. All I had to do was cut a wall patch to size, dip it in water and place it on the wall, let it dry for half an hour, spread some spackling on it that looked like bubble gum...

...and 2 hours later, voila!!

The hole is gone!! This stuff is so cool. And not just the hole patch...all of it. The pink spackling, the toothpick trick, and all the other things I've learned - its all fascinating! I wish I was an expert about all things do-it-yourself because I'd love to work at a hardware store and help people like me find the right things and tell them about secret tricks. And best of all, I'd get a discount! Maybe after a few more years of working on this house and I'll be ready to do that :)

The pink walls are slowly disappearing. Here's a sneak peak of the new living room walls:

For awhile the living room looked like a baby's room with the pink and blue, but I now all the pink in the living room is covered by the first coat of blue and half of it has a 2nd coat. Once the living room is done, there will only be 3 more pink rooms to go (both bedrooms and the hall). Apparently the old owner was really into pink.

All the pictures so far on this post are ugly, so here are some pretty ones from the past few days. Hanging out in the backyard --

View from the roof --

Isn't it amazing how the minute Fall starts, everything immediately turns crisp-looking? Its like you've been wearing glasses that are too weak all summer and then suddenly you've got the right prescription again.

I've got my 10-year high school reunion this weekend, so I won't have any updates for a few days. Apparently I'm the only one who's nervous about it...everyone else I've talked to is so excited, but I feel anxious about seeing people that I grew up with after all these years (our class only had 34 or so people in it, and our school was K-12...I went to school with most of my classmates for 10 years!). Anyway, everyone tells me it'll be fine, and I'm sure they're right. But I'm still nervous so wish me luck!

Before & After: FLOORS

I just realized that I never posted pictures of the finished floors! Here are a few close-up pictures of the floors after we pulled up the carpet, just to give you an idea of the shape they were in (click on any of the pictures to make them big):

Not the worst I've ever seen, but not good either. Now...on to the dramatic Before & After shots! ;)

Living room, before:

Living room, without carpet and after sanding:

Living room, AFTER:

Dining room, before & after:

Bedroom and guest room, after (I didn't take before pictures of these rooms):

Not too shabby, right? I'm absolutely thrilled with them. They look great, they feel great on my bare feet, and hopefully they'll even increase the value of the house for when/if we sell one day.

I've got lots more stuff to write about and pictures to post...hopefully I can get those up tonight or first thing tomorrow morning.

Moved in

Have we been in the house for 4 nights already? And I haven't blogged in a week?? Good grief. The week has been a haze, and I feel like a zombie. But....we're IN the HOUSE! Seth and I were talking about it last night, and it just doesn't feel real yet. Yeah, all our stuff is there and Ruby is there and our cars are in the driveway and we're getting mail and phone calls and what-have-you, but it doesn't feel like our home yet - more like a house we're living in right now. I'm sure that's because I can't find anything and I haven't established a routine for everything yet...I really like my routine. Ruby likes her routine allot, too. She was on edge big time when we first moved in. She wouldn't stay in a room if we left it, and every night she'd pace around the house for hours...we could hear her nails clicking on the hardwood floors as she walked from the dining room into the kitchen, into the living room, back into the dining room, and on and on in circles all night. Poor thing. She was probably just disoriented because she didn't know her way around and she's getting so blind these days.

I've been pretty disoriented too, and not sleeping too well. I fully expected to feel overwhelmed with unpacking and to be excited for more space and a yard, but what I didn't expect was my reaction to not living in an apartment anymore. I got so used to being in a 2nd floor tiny apartment surrounded by lots of neighbors, and I guess I was so busy complaining about the noise from the apartment above us and having to hike up and down the stairs with my groceries that I didn't realize that those things made me feel safe in a way. There aren't many places for someone (aka, a killer) to hide in a 1 bedroom/1 closet apartment, but it feels like there are endless hiding spots in the house. Plus, unless someone was scaling the apartment building wall, I was pretty much guaranteed that there was never someone (aka, a peeping Tom) outside of my bedroom window. Its also so quiet and dark at the house...I got used to the lights and the sounds on Broadway. Don't get me wrong -- I do NOT miss Broadway and I wouldn't go back for anything. And I'm not complaining, either. Just trying to be honest about all the aspects of being in the new house and the adjustments I've making.

So last night I tried to do things as normally as possible so I could maybe relax a little and get a good night's sleep. No unpacking, no manual labor, no trips to Home Depot...just grocery store, dinner, TV or movie, and bed. Period.

I put some jazz on the radio, stood in my kitchen and chopped veggies for a salad, and watched Ruby wandering around in the backyard from the kitchen window -- it was just what the doctor ordered. It felt incredibly good to make a real meal again instead of throwing a frozen pizza in the oven - I haven't cooked in over a month! It also felt good to sit down and eat it.

Oh man I love a good salad. Ruby finally started relaxing a bit, too.

I got in bed around 10:30pm and I was asleep almost immediately. I don't think I woke up once all night long, and maybe I was just sleeping really hard and didn't hear her, but I'm pretty sure Ruby didn't walk laps last night.

So....things are coming along. Getting better every day. There are still boxes everywhere, only 2 walls in the whole house that are painted, and the kitchen cabinets have no doors or hardware on them. But that stuff will happen with time, little by little. We have 30 years to get it all done, after all ;)