Marching, 2019

In the beginning of this month I was hoping to have a new and improved vigor that spring always seems to bring.  Indeed, now that the weather has warmed up and the days are longer I have more energy and focus to complete old projects and start new ones.

Music:

We had a special musical treat to celebrate the birthdays of Charlie and Sug.  We attended a concert of the Maryland State Boychoir  at a local venue.

Maryland State Boychoir

They are inspirational and very well-trained.

Movies:

This month, I saw The Green Book due to the Academy Award buzz I thought it was entertaining although I would have liked it to have more of Don Shirley’s music.

I enjoyed this movie — Dumbo.

I saw Dumbo today.  It is a charming film. It didn’t get particularly strong reviews but I enjoyed it very much. Danny DeVito is always fun and Colin Farrell is very attractive.

Mark:

We marked both Charlie’s and Sug’s birthdays with a nice meal at a local Italian bistro. Charlie ordered capellini Alfredo which he enjoyed so much that he wanted to make it at home.

We also made multiple trips to Starbucks for free birthday drinks.

That wish came true last weekend when we discovered there are only 3 ingredients in Alfredo:  cream, butter, Parmesan cheese. We made it (Charlie boiled the pasta and I made the sauce).  Ta-dah!

Make:

I finally finished making door curtains in the master bedroom.  I also finished making shades for the windows.

Before
After

It took an entire weekend but now they’re finished.

Motivate:

Over the past year I have spoken with our carpenter who is supposed to reroof the deck outside the master bedroom and add a railing.

The arrow points to the deck that still needs a railing.

He just needs to be motivated to work on this complicated project.  I’m hoping the mild March weather encourages him to get started. He has not started yet so I’m hoping April will be the month.

Move:

I have started in earnest getting all clutter out of the Treetops room. As every surface (including the floor) is cleared I become more and more hopeful that this will just be the beginning of less stuff, more freedom.

Getting there.

Manage:

I managed to finish one of the two projects I had listed in the beginning of the month:

  • stain closet doors — I need a warm day which I’m hoping will be tomorrow.
  • neaten the pantry — I’ve accomplished a bit of clearing up and clearing out.  I’m hoping to sneak a few more unnecessary items out.  Charlie wants me to remove my mixer.  No thank you.
Metro:

The peak bloom of the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC is April 3rd this year.  We’ll be heading down to see them very close to this date.

Peak bloom for the cherry blossoms in DC this year is April 3.

We must take the DC Metro downtown so I made sure we both had SmarTrip cards to use on the subway to expedite the trip.

Will April cheer you up?

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New Remote

The dog’s primary room in our house is the conservatory.  He is allowed on a controlled basis in other rooms but he can roam freely in the conservatory.

The conservatory doorway is barricaded to keep te dogs inside.

I love our doggie but I was not very happy with him when he chewed up the TV remote in the conservatory.

Dash actually chewed the buttons off of the remote.

The main power button was chewed off so we taped the also-chewed input button to the hole left by the missing button.

I purchased the exact remote that came with the TV.

After having enough of this craziness I ordered another remote from Amazon using the code on the damaged item.

The new remote.

Hoping it would work I loaded fresh AAA batteries into the back of the new remote and it worked perfectly with our combination TV-DVD.

Dash and Charlie look so innocent.

Now Charlie please don’t leave this where Dash can get it.

What essential has your pet done away with?

Marching Toward Spring, 2019

Ah, the month of March named after Mars, the Roman god of war.  We’re always so busy in March — Charlie with his garden; I with painting and planning; and Sug with everything else.

I have been working on eating through the out-dated items in our pantry.

I’m determined to get some projects finished in March, even the ones I by-passed in January, so I can post some Before-and-After reports.

Music:

Charlie and I had tickets to the Baltimore Symphony pops concert last night. The first half was all my favorite American musical overtures:  My Fair Lady, Funny Girl, Gypsy, etc.  In the second act Christina Bianco impersonated all my favorite divas:  Celine, Dolly, Judy, Liza, Barbra — even Reba.  So much fun.

If there’s a piano, Charlie wants to play.

Charlie will be playing the piano/organ at local services including Ash Wednesday, a funeral, Sundays at various churches, and his regular gigs. There will be lots of music all month.

Movies:

This month, with my new aspiration to see more movies, I’d like to see a couple of films:  Dumbo, The Green Book, and maybe, Five Feet Apart.

How cute is this little elephant?
Mark:

Both Charlie and Sug celebrate their birthdays one day apart so I need to think of something or someplace to memorialize their special days.

My favorite food is (and always has been) steamed crabs from the Chesapeake Bay.

I’m thinking about the Stony Creek Inn because it’s right on the water and who doesn’t like Maryland seafood.

Make:

I need to focus and finish making door curtains in the master bedroom.  I keep putting it off but March is the month.

I know how, now just to DO.

I have to remind myself how nice it will be when they are finished.

Motivate:

Over the past year I have spoken with our carpenter who is supposed to reroof the deck outside the master bedroom and add a railing.

The arrow points to the deck that still needs a railing.

He just needs to be motivated to work on this complicated project.  I’m hoping the mild March weather encourages him to get started.

Move:

I have started in earnest getting all clutter out of the Treetops room. As every surface (including the floor) is cleared I become more and more hopeful that this will just be the beginning of less stuff, more freedom.

Getting there.

Manage:

I need to finish two projects that only I can manage:

  • stain closet doors — I need a warm day.
  • neaten the pantry — I need to use the space in there more intentionally.
Metro:

At the end of March (or the beginning of April depending upon the weather) we would like to visit Washington DC at the peak bloom of the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin.

We’ll be riding the Green line.

We must take the DC Metro downtown to make getting around more easily.  Even though we have used public transportation in many European cities, we seldom use it in the States. It’s always an adventure.

What adventure are you planning?

Getting Started on the January Task

The January task in terms of cleaning and straightening the house starts in the kitchen.  The kitchen is used to some extent everyday and from time we put a heavy load on its resources.

My side of the kitchen.

Kitchen Drawers 
We don’t have many drawers in the kitchen but the ones we have are packed to the gills with table linens and utensils.

The drawer next to the stove holds a number of unlikely items.

Some of the utensils are seldom used but when I need a cherry pitter I happy to have one. I’m going to try to be ruthless with useless items. Then I’ll organize so the most used items are easily accessible.

Even cluttered cabinets look neat with the doors closed.

Kitchen Cabinets
It can be easy to carelessly throw pots and pans and bowls into cabinets, so I plan to remove all the cookware and wipe off the revolving shelves. This year I did get rid of a bundt cake pan that horribly ruined a cake.

Pots and pans are kept in the corner cabinet near the stove.

There is lots of space in the cupboard but frequently used pieces should be near the front.

The pantry

Pantry 
Our pantry holds everything that needs to be easily accessed or, conversely, is seldom used. It needs an organizational once-over. I can organize canned goods by type, check expiration dates and get rid of foods you’ll never eat. Unexpired and shelf stable foods can be donated to your local food pantry.

We can never find an appropriate container and lid when we need one.

One of the worst areas are storage containers without lids and lids without matching containers. We organize this a lot but it is difficult to maintain.

Spices do get old.

Spice Rack
While I don’t actually have a spice rack I keep a number of spices and herbs in a narrow cabinet near the stove. I’m almost afraid to look at the expirations dates.

Spice cabinet of the far right.

Refrigerator and Freezer 
During the holidays the refrigerator and freezer were used and abused more than usual.  We must eat or store the large volume of food that we prepared.  Everything will come out and we’ll wipe down the insides and clean all the shelves and bins.

We have used up all of this year’s frozen peaches.

Under-Sink Storage
We have 2 sinks in the kitchen under which we store all manner of cleaning products.  Some products like Goof-Off we seldom use but are absolutely necessary when a sticky situation arises.

Under the prep sink

Perhaps I can whittle down the products and reorganize the spaces.

Where do you start in January?

2 Dressers and a Mirror

I’ve been wanting to move Charlie’s dresser (he has 3) out of the master bedroom because the new closet has plenty of room for his stuff.

This dresser in the smallest bedroom was part of a set inherited by my son.

First we needed to remove the mid-century teak highboy from the little pink bedroom.  Thankfully our son came by yesterday to pick it up .

This dresser belonged to Charlie’s grandparents.

The dresser Charlie uses in the master bedroom is usually covered with slightly worn clothing.

I had refinished this dresser 4 years ago.

To help move the Charlie removed the drawers and redistributed his clothes elsewhere. The dresser looks fine in the pink bedroom because it has a denimy vibe which goes with the blue accents.

Removing the chest of drawers and adding a large mirror opens up the bedroom.

In its place in the master bedroom I hung my mother’s gold rococo mirror on the empty wall.

The Eiffel Tower glows golden in the black and white photo of Paris hanging over the bed.

The gold on the mirror frame complements the photo of Paris with a gold-tone Eiffel Tower over the bed.

My little chair could use a paint uplift.

I plan to make a reading area in this space.

What are you moving around?

House To-Do List – 2018 Progress

I used to organize the house to-do list in one long list that I added to as I thought of something new.   I cleaned up this list just after I posted this at the end of 2017. Over the years we have made a lot of progress which sometimes seems very slow-going.

Living Room

New bench, new rug, same furniture.
  • Finish greige curtains 

Dining Room

Dining room
Dining Room
  • Paint paneling
  • Finish cushions
  • Paint trim

Kitchen

The kitchen
The kitchen
Coffee bar in the kitchen
  • Kitchen in action

Pantry

Pantry

Conservatory

Conservatory
Conservatory

Conservatory bathroom

Conservatory Bathroom
The rustic vanity.
  • Install baseboard
  • Install window trim

Powder room

The powder room has been totally redecorated.
  • Remove wallpaper
  • Add paneling at bottom of wall
  • Paper top of wall

    Anthropologie wallpaper would lighten the space.
    Anthropologie wallpaper would lighten the space.
  • Rehang towel bar

Stairs

Stair runner.

Hallway

Upstairs hall
Upstairs hall

Laundry Room

After the renovation we should be able to free up some room in the laundry.
After the renovation we should be able to free up some room in the laundry.

La buanderie means either laundry room or utility room in a house

  • Finish floor
  • Hang closet door
  • Add baseboard trim
  • Add chair rail trim
  • Paint and install inside shutters
  • Paint and install old kitchen cabinet above dryer

Master Bathroom

Master Bathroom

Master Bedroom

  • Erect bookshelves

    Shelves to be finished.
  • Paint trim
  • Refinish tall dresser

Master Deck

The master bedroom French doors lead to a private deck.
The master bedroom French doors lead to a private deck.
  • The furniture is painted and in place on the master deck.
    The furniture is painted and in place on the master deck.
  • Have railing built
  • Have deck surface finished

Diva Room

A tiny but useful room: The Diva Room
A tiny but useful room: The Diva Room
  • Paint trim
  • Add shutters or curtains
  • Clear out boxes

Treetops Room

The Treetops Room viewed from the doorway.
The Treetops Room viewed from the doorway.
  • Clear out boxes
  • Wash windows
  • Paint door

Front entrance

Front painted Sandy Hook Gray.
Front painted Sandy Hook Gray.

Side entrance

The westside porch.
The westside porch.
  • Choose bluestone or paving
  • Make planter for front edge
  • Make wood box
  • Bench or chair
  • Door mat

Back entrance

The back stairs to the conservatory.
The back stairs to the conservatory.
  • Plant grass
  • Lay stepping stones or temporary deck
  • Door mat

Garden

The planters are at the entrance to the potager on either side of the iron gate.
The planters are at the entrance to the potager on either side of the iron gate.
  • Make a plan for foundation plants
  • Plant grass

Wee Little House

The shed is both charming and useful.
The shed is both charming and useful.
  • Organize tools
  • Paint shutters 

    Shutters are out of the shed, painted, and on the house.
  • Clear work bench
  • Organize garden items

Glade Cottage

The Cottage has come in handy for guests and as a temporary home for our son's friends.
The Cottage has a permanent tenant.
Glade Cottage in Spring
Interior of The Cottage
The Cottage kitchen

Exterior

The before and after of the shutter installation.

Do you have plans for next year?

Updating the Header 2018

It’s fall and the trees are blazing, especially the bright red Japanese maple in the west side yard.

I wanted to use this recent photo of the house.

In order to use a photo of the house as a header it has to be a longshot.

I never notice the phone wires until I take a photo.

Instead I chose this one even though the colors are not as vibrant.

Before
After

Are you making changes?