Friday, December 30, 2011

-your best year ever-

YOU just had the best year ever. Yes, you. And you. And you. We all did.

Think about it. This year you:

Bought a house. Listened to a friend. Had a perfect cocktail. Made the perfect cocktail. Switched jobs. Had a baby. Spotted someone a penny. Traveled somewhere warm. Traveled somewhere abroad. Ran a marathon. Finished school. Got a pet. Got a raise. Ate an amazing meal. Made an amazing meal. Performed in front of an audience. Made something with your own two hands. Called your parents. Remembered to send a birthday card. Took the perfect nap. Hugged a grandparent. Smiled at a stranger. Found religion. Or not. Donated to a charity or an alma mater. Got married. Held a baby. Weathered a storm.

We, collectively, have done all of these things. And if you've done just one of these things, you've had a pretty good year.

So this New Years Eve, give yourself a break. Put off those new years resolutions for another day---you've had the best year ever.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

-post Snowmageddon 2011 report!-

I never thought I would be the recipient of a federal disaster fund, but lo and behold Glastonbury received some federal funds for our little snowstorm last month!

This should be exciting except we had to move this:

From here:

To here:

Yup, that's half of our share.

Let's just say by the end if that little project, I was deliriously humming:

praying that root I grabbed wasn't dormant poison ivy (can poison ivy even BE dormant??), and realizing that wearing my lululemon yoga pants for yard work is only a good idea if you're into wearing dried leaf bell-bottoms (insert hippie tree-hugger pun here).

I couldn't resist throwing in a very first-world problem to remind myself of how good I have it! Hey, it could be worse---the storm could have crushed our cabana.

-a study in marriage, holiday edition-

Good news!

We're finally getting the wall torn down and supported between the living room and the kitchen on Monday.

Kevin spent the weekend prepping by doing this.


And dealing with this (what IS that??).

To get us here:

But then again it was only a few weekends before Christmas, so to get in the holiday spirit I finally found and bought our tree this:

And made this (not the goose).

Yes, I made a Christmas tie for Mr. Goose*.
Note the Windsor knot.

A perfect marriage of talents and interests.

How does YOUR household split up the holiday duties---er, cheer? Tell me in comments!

*contrary to popular belief, Mr. Goose is not, in fact, a family heirloom from my Eastern Shore wood decoy heritage. He's an antique from the Swedish homesteading Oakeson family---go figure.

Friday, November 18, 2011

-mcleans annual thanksgiving day panic-

Some people are in doubt of my love of Thanksgiving because I've stretched the cardinal rule and am listening to Christmas music before Turkey Day, but let me set the record straight.

I love Turkey Day---I love what we're celebrating, I love the food, I love the ritual of preparation, I love the TV traditions. Heck, I even love the family part.

But every year there is a certain amount of panic that ensues the week before Thanksgiving (if you've ever hosted a holiday you know what I'm talking about), and this year is no exception.

Well, this year IS the exception since our living room has no sofa, no rug, no fresh paint, no fireplace front...basically it's a complete disaster a la the Room of Requirement (100pts if you know what that is)!

So as of today, the Friday before Thanksgiving, my living room set to host my family looks like this (see below). Say a little gobblegobble prayer for me...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

-my first chainsaw-

Usually, the sound of a chainsaw invokes a strong subconscious reaction.

A sense of dread among horror flick fans.

A vision of cash flow for lumberjacks.

Slight confusion among city folk (man, those squirrels get louder every year!).

But to me, a chainsaw smells like freedom.

So yes, we have liberated ourselves and cut our way out of the disaster that is our property!

Ok, so maybe the city finally sent the Parks and Rec guys to clear our driveway, but still!

The big news is really that Kevin bought his first chainsaw. Totally necessary of course. He also got a splitting axe, a wheelbarrow, chainsaw chaps...heck, this storm might be the best thing to happen to his testosterone since his first power tool purchase!

He's literally been out every day this week chopping wood. I told him if he doesn't grow a beard the Lumberjack Association will confiscate his chainsaw and give him a hefty fine. It is No-Shave November after all.

Things are finally getting back to normal here on Evergreen Lane---i.e. Kevin working and I'm painting, and for right now it's good enough!

Here are some pics of the chainsaw chaps, our immense amount of firewood, and the path to freedom:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

-Snowmageddon 2011-

Snowmageddon, you say?

When and where exactly was this catastrophic event, you may ask?

Well if you weren't within a 200 mile radius of Hartford, Connecticut then you probably either didn't get much of it or hear about it afterwords.

Let me update you.

The Saturday before Halloween, Hartford and its surrounding towns (hey, that's us!) got about a foot of snow in a 24 hour.

I mean, they canceled Halloween!

Now normally I would say hey, not a big deal---I live in New England it's part of the deal, but the problem was that we hadn't lost many leaves on the trees yet, so the damage was quite impressive.

So impressive in fact, that what was originally planned to be a three-day trip to San Diego the day of the storm to visit friends turned into a whole week since there was no way to access our property (just to confirm, there are definitely worse places to be stranded then sunny San Diego)!

I can only imagine if little 91-year-old Mary O'Meara had still been living here---she would've needed the fire department to rescue her (lest we forget our house is practically a fortress with a rock on one side, a stream on the other, and a pond in the backyard)!

Although I do feel lucky there wasn't any real damage to the house, (a Christmas miracle!) our poor trees took a beating and so did our yard.

Completely frustrating... every time we feel like we're making headway, some major thing gets in the way.

What's that? You'd like a new bed? Too bad! You've got to buy a furnace chimney liner! Oh, but wait, now you need to pay a tree surgeon so scratch everything else except that.

Sorry for the dark post... we are hoping to be back on track today or tomorrow, but for now here's what we've been up against:

Monday, October 24, 2011

-autumn inspiration-

It's dusk.

I open a window and there's the familiar and fragrant smell of distant smoke wafting in with the cool air.

I hear a rustle of leaves, 
comforting as the dark and chill seep through to my bones. 
I pull my sweater tighter around my shoulders. 

This evening is peaceful, 
        yet stirs the blood. 

There's anticipation---
        the seasons have changed
  ---and immense pleasure. 

It's fall.

A time of darkening nights 
       and contemplation; 
time for gathering warmth and       loved ones close. 

There are no greater pleasures than these.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

-a deck with a view-

Why, hello there Fall.

So nice of you to FINALLY join us.

Granted, I'll probably wish you had held off for some warmer days when it's the dead of February, but right now I am totally digging the dropping mosquito population, changing leaves, and Halloween prep!

In memoriam to your late brother, Summer, I am posting the before and after pics of our sad, little deck.

Here's a video I took while we were getting the house inspected mid-Spring. The footage is more of the view from the deck, but you get a totally sweet shot of the baby gate, patio table and ugly planters that were left behind (and if there's audio, I beg you to try to ignore it).

Our deck in greener times.
No, literally, the deck was covered with mossy stuff.

Here are some action shots of Kev breaking in his new BGE on the 4th of July weekend---no porch furniture as of yet.

I know what you're thinking, "PLEASE tell me kept those fabulous plastic planters nailed into the railing!" The answer is no.
Our chairs from Richmond made it, but the deck definitely needed work.

Fortunately, there are no actions shots of me worshipping, er using our new gas-powered power washer. EVERYONE SHOULD OWN ONE. There was some kind of gray paint on the deck, so the post-power washer end result gave it a whitewashed feel.

We decided this deck is on the 5-year plan, so we're not going to repaint and hope it hangs in there!
Here's the finished deck from above.

Honestly, this whole set-up is just waiting for the time when we don't have bigger home reno fish to fry. I'll let you know if I figure out when that time is.

The chairs, which I love, are from Pier 1, the side table has a twin and is from Target, and the patterned pillows were made by my Aunt Sally.

We divvied up our deck into two zones---the 'relaxing, watching Kevin work the BGE' zone, and the 'hey, the mosquitos aren't bad! Let's eat outside' zone.

You can see where I went a little overboard with the power washer on the house. Easy to do, let me tell you. 

I think I got this rug from Target a while back. Indoor/outdoor rugs have really gotten awesome. This reminds of the Greek key pattern.

We could only afford to start with two chairs, but hey, it's a start!

Evidently the best time to buy porch furniture is the end of the summer-- this Pier 1 outdoor wicker 6 footer was on the super cheap.

These stacking outdoor wicker chairs were also on sale from Pier 1.

Well, it's definitely not the most exciting update to the house (or blog post for that matter), but it's certainly hard to beat the view! I plan on wasting away many hours on this deck wrapped in blankets, drinking wine, and watching the leaves change.