Tuesday, September 27, 2011

hello?

OK, yes, fine.

On September 26th we closed on the house. Yes we did. Even though my husband decided he wanted to back out of the deal that afternoon, and the bank's approval came in while we were all sitting around the settlement table.

On September 27th we moved in. That's when I saw it for the first time after it became ours. I totally fell in love. It's my house. Yes, I want to change very many things about it. But only because I love it so much.

September 28th I spent five and a half straight hours cleaning our rental. And paid the lawn guy $140 to mow and do outrageous amounts of labor on the weeds and bushes (it's a whole acre, but that's still outrageous) because it was looking like our landlords were looking for an excuse to keep our security deposit, and that would be so much more. When the landlord's agent called the next week and said she was very impressed with the condition in which she found it, I heaved a big sigh of relief. I mean, we deserve it. I repaired the plaster (that was broken when we moved in) and patched and primed and painted every nail hole and repaired the toilet and washed the floors and windows and refrigerator and the woodwork and repainted the fireplace where it was stained with soot (and my DH did some things too ;)). Whew.

Internet is not installed at our new place until tomorrow - soonest they could do it. This is a blessing insofar as we have so darn much unpacking to do. I would say we're 60-70% done with that, which is better than I expected. Last night I cooked in our new place for the first time and everything I needed was right where I was reaching - a good sign. I have done much home-things shopping (and found and purchased relatively little - it will come), and have been trying out paint colors madly. I've got one for the kitchen walls, the full bath, and our bedroom. One more sample, I think, and I'll have the third bedroom. Second bedroom color awaits the arrival of yet another wallpaper sample (settled on wallpaper for our room and the dining room; mostly set for the third bedroom; not going to do wallpaper in the bathroom. Thank you, TCIE. Tough love - I need it). My, oh, my.

Obviously, as a result of this internet business, I have been a bit absent. I'm sorry. I miss you all, really. I will be back more regularly...but not right away. Because this Thursday we are flying to France for nine days. Honestly, it would be nicer if it were, say, a month later, so I could enjoy the settling-in at leisure, and also the trip-planning at leisure (with the internet at home!). But I am not complaining - no, not I. I am going to the flea market at Clingancourt. (!!!) It's OK. Don't feel bad. You can hate a barren woman - I would hate me, too :).

Love you all.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

WTH?

I interrupt my regularly scheduled programming of room redesign inspirations (more to come on that front) to rant pointlessly about matters IF-related.


I want to preface this by saying that I know this is shallow. And petty. And I am so jaded that this particular brand of pettiness does not usually appeal to me (it has to get a whole lot more petty before it captures my attention). But for whatever reason I am making an exception.

I don't watch the Rachel Zoe project (I would like to say that that's because it's trash TV and doesn't appeal to me, but while both of those things are true, there is clearly plenty of trash TV that does. I watched all of Million-Dollar Decorators and I cannot wait for the next season to start). But I do read TLo's recaps. (That's plenty, right?) I understand that, being recaps, they are at least a little editorialized. The show may be a caricature of reality (to say nothing of humanity), but it's also possible that the recaps are largely a caricature of the show. Even so.


Apparently all last season Rachel's husband Rodger was on her case about how they should have a baby, and Rachel was not sold. (If this were a sitcom, it would make perfect sense to do this, because the writers could ordain that the character would get pregnant the next season, making the nagging part of a coherent storyline, rather than just an annoyance to the audience. But the characters in this show are supposed to be actual people, so that's my foreshadowing of the first thing about this that really annoys me.)


Several of TLo's catty but hilarious commenters pointed out that it probably is biologically impossible for the woman to get pregnant in the first place. She's over 40 and may be older than she admits to, and she appears to be starving. I understand that it's snarky to say that a skinny 18yo is anorexic (she may just be thin), but when it's a woman in her 40s (when metabolism slows way down), she looks like a death's head, she works in the fashion industry, her hair and skin are processed into oblivion, and there are cameras following her around documenting that she never eats food, the safe money is on some sort of rather serious eating disorder. And though yours truly has never been that skinny (or looked that scary), I've done the JV anorexia thing and I can attest from experience that it will absolutely mess with your cycle. The system shock from excessive diet and exercise will screw it up in individual instances, and more generally, once you drop your body fat far enough, you don't produce enough estrogen for a healthy reproductive system.


No one here would be familiar with the effects of hormone imbalance on fertility, by any chance?


Just checking.


Frankly, if a grown woman well into "advanced maternal age" who probably has been sexually active for decades but never open to life and is wedded to her career and at least mildly horrified at the thought of having a child can't get pregnant, then everybody wins, right? Most of all the baby, and the woman second, and after that, the rest of us.


Apparently this season of the show started the other day and Rachel is pregnant. Six months pregnant, and apparently (you can go and look up the pictures) barely looks pregnant at all. I know, first pregnancies don't show as much as early, but if you're a stick, your lunch shows (assuming you eat any). A six-month fetus would be plainly visible. Apparently several of her lines in the show indicate that she is continuing the thinness obsession into pregnancy (i.e., "you can't suck your stomach in when you're pregnant" - apparently that was a lamentation), which raises a significant question about what is now termed "pregorexia," or at any rate, malnourishment of her unborn child. Given that AMA increases the risk of pregnancy complications already, who in her right mind would take the additional risk of undereating?


So now you have the entire picture that has provoked my fury. This woman didn't want a baby; her husband did, and she probably enjoyed the idea of some attention accompanying the pregnancy announcement, but the idea of being continuously pregnant for nine months is clearly not her cup of tea. And it seems clear that she does not want a child (apparently she was extremely upset that it would be a boy, and thus not likely to attend the couture shows with her. That doesn't even qualify as a "first-world problem"). Children tend to result from babies; first they're infants, later toddlers, then preschoolers, then school kids, then teenagers, and later college students and then independent adults. All of those stages have the potential to create significant inconvenience for the parents. I know I did.


I know I have been highly ambivalent about the baby thing lately (while ttc), prompting questions from the more consistent-minded among you. But I feel that I have cause. After so many years of IF, I've tried very hard to get accustomed to my life without children. While that hasn't been a complete success, the alternative seems to be perpetual unhappiness, and that, at least, I would like to avoid. Paradoxically, getting pregnant now, while a blessing, would also be a major disruption of the little peace I've acquired. I don't think this woman's ambivalence is a product of dealing with the grief of IF, though she may have had other painful experiences about which I know nothing.


Also. I get a lot of exercise and I eat relatively healthy (plus dessert and snacks) and I take my medicine and see a doctor and wear sunscreen and I don't tan artificially (beds or spray) or smoke or drink or use controlled substances (prescription or otherwise) or consume much caffeine or even dye or perm my hair. I don't "eat organic" and I don't try to be a pain in the neck to others about their health and the only Gospel I preach (and I try to do so judiciously) is the Gospel, but I think I live a pretty healthy life.

I know I go on about pregnant crack whores (I find they help people to work out complex theological points without having to sit down with Aquinas and Augustine and a course in basic logic for several years), but that's crack whores in general. That is, some women who are selling their bodies to pay for illegal drugs become pregnant despite probably not wanting to, and obviously not maintaining their health in an optimal way to get and stay pregnant. Many of these carry their babies more or less to term (albeit often with compromised health). But any given crack whore probably has less of a chance of conceiving than a normal person (though likely a far greater chance than I have, and I have not sold my body for drugs even once. See that restraint!).

But Rachel Zoe is just one person. Just one apparently physically unhealthy person whose lifestyle (with high stress and limited sleep, and a schedule that likely makes ttc inconvenient, in addition to everything else) is not conducive to getting pregnant. And that person - that person who is not taking care of her unborn baby and appears not even to have wanted a baby - made a big deal ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, for A WHOLE SEASON LONG, about a storyline that would blow up in her face if she turned out to be unable to get pregnant. She gambled that she would get pregnant, even though the average person has a 1/6 chance of losing that bet, and even though her chances had to be a lot steeper.

And she won.

I don't know whether "didn't deserve it" is the right mode of analysis here, especially given that she probably would have been secretly (or openly) relieved if she could not have had a child. Embarrassed, maybe, but relieved. But I guess this absolute nonsense is really galling because it flies in the face of even what the moderate, sensible, non-vengeful me would like to establish on the subject of infertility. I would like the populace at large to have a real idea of how common infertility is. I would like them to think seriously about what 1/6 means. ONE SIXTH. I would like them to be forced to confront the fact that that sixth isn't just professional prostitutes and extreme athletes and people with an extra chromosome and those who started ttc over 50 - it's normal, healthy, risk-averse people with no STDs and no prior abortions. IT COULD BE THEM.

And even though it must be somewhere in our DNA to believe that infertility will never strike us personally, I would like normal people to start saying, before they start ttc, "It might not happen." Or, "we're hoping to have a baby" instead of "we're planning to get pregnant in October or November." To say "if we should be so lucky" and mean it. I want people to believe and understand that it could be them, that there are no guarantees. (And yes, I did. I was 21 and 22 and unmarried and even before the endometriosis diagnosis, I said, "I want 12 kids. But if I can't have my own..." Not being [that big of] an idiot doesn't protect you. And being an idiot doesn't hurt you, even though I ardently believe that it should.)

And then Rachel Zoe goes out on her TV show and demonstrates to the world that getting pregnant is effortless; it happens the day you stop arguing with your husband; it's a trend, a fad, a brief hobby to get you airtime, not a serious life-changing responsibility; it's not something women would be wise to prioritize when they are younger (not that that helped me), because it's just as effortless at whatever age; it has nothing to do with your state of health and it's totally compatible with being emaciated; and it doesn't require you to undertake any efforts for the health of the unborn child.

There is no justice. And there really should be.

(And I do not want her baby to be born with birth defects or ill or dying - I don't. But I do want her to spend at least one week in her third trimester in mortal dread that the baby will really not be OK, with a visceral awareness that this is because she cared more about being a maternity size 0 than her child's life. I don't think that's uncharitable - I think that would be an indispensible benefit to her life, and her child's.)

WTH?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

the powder room

I'm afraid that after the kitchen and the bath, I start to get onto ever shakier ground. I have ideas...but...I'm not sure. Maybe you can help.

I'm afraid I don't actually have pictures of the room. But it's fairly simple in concept. It has beadboard on all four walls and the ceiling (currently painted white, and in need of caulking some fissures and repainting). It has a vintage sink, like this one:


It also has tile on the floor that I don't really like. It's ceramic, and square, and an odd-ish size...maybe three inches square? And a strange color...a sort of gray-violet. It's in good condition, although it appears to be going un-level - it's actually pulling away from the baseboard a little bit.

And it has a little older built-in electric heater, and an older white toilet, and a door and a window with a nice sash. It has a teeny bit of extra room for a half bath - not enough to add a shower, but maybe enough to add a little chest and store some things in it. So here are my much-conflicted thoughts.

First of all, the room desperately needs color. I tend to think that I can't paint the beadboard a color other than white, so that the color would have to come in from elsewhere. I didn't find many inspiration photos with floor-to-ceiling beadboard, but this one offered an interesting way to introduce some color. I think I could do brightly-colored trim paint and maybe a piece of brightly-painted wood furniture:


And then I had another inspiration. I could bring in some awesome color in the floor! A while back I had a fascination with these penny-round tiles:


They're bright, right? I think they'd make the bathroom so lively...but maybe too much so? In general I like white ceramic tiles, but white tiles with white beadboard on every surface would just be too much. And then, today, I was flipping through the posts in Thrifty Decor Chick's before-and-after party and I was immediately hooked by the title of one transformation - "Grand Hotel Mackinac Island blue." DH and I honeymooned on Mackinac Island (though we were too poor for the Grand Hotel!) and the reminder of it made me smile. I'll admit that I don't recall the hotel being painted that color, but it is an absolutely magnificent color:


It looks to me like a variant of "haint blue." So that means, if nothing else, when the ceilings of the porches need repainting (the front porch ceiling is already light blue! Yay!) I will use that shade.

In addition - thus far I have resisted the increasingly popular distressed turquoise furniture trend. If offered either the stained or the painted version of that little occasional table, I would definitely take the before - I love the look of the wood and it would fit beautifully in the picture of the living room I have in my head. But she did a wonderful job and even though it's trendy and it pains me to say this - I do love that color. And the shade is just pale enough for me to think...maybe I could paint the bathroom's beadboard walls that color? Maybe? Too much? If I kept the ceiling white???

And then maybe I could use white penny round on the floor:


That really doesn't leave a lot. I may switch out the mirror (I remember it being generally unimpressive but I can't conjure up any specifics), and I guess I need to think about hand towels. I'm mostly set on a light gray shade that can't really be discolored (I'm committed to my bright white bath towels - they always get back to white with a nice bleach wash - but I unwisely put out both white hand towels at a huge party we had a few years back and I've bleached them a dozen times and they will never be white again. Lesson learned). So just before our latest party (this past Saturday) I picked up a Cynthia Rowley hand towel in "graphite" at Home Goods. This is not my house, but this is the towel:


It has already been washed once and used repeatedly, and it is still soft. And no discoloration. So, maybe I'll grab a few more.

Hmm...that's all I've got. Would be delighted to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

in the kitchen

I continue my home-redecorating series. To gather the giant unwieldy pile of inspiration images into my arms all at once, I ran a google search on my own blog, and realized that I have been going on about this stuff for years. (Is it cool that I can say that? Or just weird?) I'm happy to report that some of my ideas have actually evolved, and equally happy to report that some old favorites are still favorites. Onward.

First, the raw materials. They're not much, folks:


...and...


Right. OK. We have lots of work to do. With apologies for any redundancy with prior posts: the floor is a new vinyl peel-and-stick tile in good condition. It's going. It will be replaced with something like this:




(My excellently-priced source of slate tile is here.) Yes, I know, slate breaks plates. I cry crocodile tears for the plates that will be dropped there. I just don't want hardwood floors in my kitchen. For the sake of feet, and possibly plates, I will distribute a few of these (the blue):


The cabinets are not solid wood. As you see, they stop well short of the ceiling (which is nine feet high - the only major score in a small room), and in fact they start oddly high above the counters. (That's not an illusion in the photos; it's actually even more pronounced in person.) Since the cupboards that you see are the whole lot, their size needs to be maximized. And since they're not real wood, I feel no qualms about ripping them out. My plan is to reserve a facing pair of upper cabinets to install above the washer and drier (after I paint them white), and to find a set of cast-off real wood cabinets on Craig's List. With so few cabinets total, finding the right pieces to fit the puzzle together should work OK. I'm not picky about the design - anything basically traditional that I can paint and will not look "soooo 2011" in a decade will do nicely. Obviously, 42-inchers would be great to eat up that height, but that's custom and may be hard to find. I may be able to get the requisite height by stacking. I do love the stacked look of older built-in cabinetry:


My principal kitchen inspiration image, because it simply inspires me, in a kitchen-related way, is this one:


But my pet color scheme comes from here:





I don't have an island; rather, I'm thinking of that creamy white color for the upper cabinets, and the slate blue/gray color for the lower ones. I continue to debate paint colors for those. For the walls, my favorite is Behr's "provence cream" - a blogger shows off how it looks on her walls here.

Let's see, what does that leave us with? Well, I think I should replace the sink - its angly placement is not maximizing much of anything. I love vintage ones - wouldn't this be cool? (From Craig's List.)




Oh yes, and stoves. You know I love the Chambers 1950s copper one (upper left corner):


But they are rare and difficult to find, so I have decided that I am willing to settle for a white or other less-flashy Chambers one instead. The first one that falls into my lap in working order at a good price, since the 1970s (that's almost vintage enough!) stove that the kitchen currently has...does not work on the "bake" setting. It does broil, but as the weather cools down, I am going to want cookies. And bread. Hot from the oven. With butter. Mmmmmm.

Sorry, where were we? Oh, yes. There's also the question of countertops. Supposing I go for a sink (like the one above) with a built-in drainboard, I will still need a water-resistant material at least on the sinkward side. I think that may call for a bit of soapstone (and here is a source I found for discounted soapstone remnants. "Remnant" includes pieces five to ten times my size AFTER a KitKat binge, BTW). For the other run of countertop, a little further from the splashing, I would like butcher block. Ikea sells a nice low-priced option in birch. [I never understand why Designed to Sell installs laminate instead of butcher block when butcher block can be so affordable!]
And I'm keeping the dishwasher.

That leaves a few logistical points; the kitchen is not only small, but oddly shaped, and though I don't go in for "gadgets" much, I have a lot of pots and pans, and dishes, and platters. (I am in many ways my mother's daughter - and in still further ways, the current custodian of much of her servingware.) So some space planning is in order.

First, you may have noticed that neither photograph reveals a refrigerator. Presently, the refrigerator is in the laundry room (just off the kitchen). In the second photo above, you may notice a tall cabinet with a reddish stain, and a kitchen table. Neither is in the kitchen now. On the wall where that cabinet once was I will place the refrigerator - after tiling the floor, of course.

Next, if you will refer to the second picture (waaay) above, you will notice that in the upper-left corner you can see into a room with shelves. That's the laundry room (more on this to come). On the wall outside that room is a framed something and a wooden sort of furniture thing below. (These also departed with the former owners.) I intend to place on that wall - the entire wall is blank, except for a window - a very nice vintage built-in looking cabinet from my husband's grandmother's house. My in-laws saved it for me especially (it was my favorite piece in the house, so I was delighted). It's wood, painted white, about five feet tall and almost as wide, with two glass-paned doors and shelves inside. It will hold LOTS of dishes and glasses.

Next to that, under the aforementioned window (not pictured), I am contemplating putting a little table that folds down against the wall. Maybe I could build the top with a bit of butcher block, or a piece of marble (World Market had little marble slabs for $30, and I need to check whether they still do). Under that, I could tuck a stool or two. I love these:


But they are designer and they are expensive. So maybe a knockoff. Or maybe something else simple and sort of industrial-looking.

I am also contemplating a simple white-painted wood shelf along that blank wall - about the height of the top of the window casing. OR, alternatively, perhaps above the window I should hang a pot rack, so that the pots hang over where the little foldable table would be. Here's where you can help me. Pot racks don't have to be expensive, and I've found several that I like. But which one?


To further maximize the usable storage, I'm thinking of some of those rails along the backsplash from which you can hang cooking utensils by S-hooks. At present, I'm not planning to tile the backsplash or anything, just paint it. And while we're on storage, there's the pantry idea. Here is the laundry room:


The sellers took those wooden ikea shelves with them, so that wall is now blank. You see the washer and drier (which I would keep there), and the fridge that will move into the kitchen itself (I would like to put a coffin freezer in its place), and then on that blank wall I think I would like to build in wood shelves, with nice wooden corbels, which could hold noodles and raisins and brownie mix and cookbooks. And things.

I think that might actually hold all my stuff, and leave a wee bit of room to navigate. Whew. Are you exhausted too?