Archive for the ‘Justin’ Category

You know how you should never tempt fate without knocking wood?   Saying that I thought we were just about done with the dining room, well, that was just silly on my part.   From here on out, I will accept that the house is always evolving and changing with us.

So, when last we spoke, Justin and I were lovingly debating whether the back wall in the dinning room needed anything else.

I smugly said no.  I was wrong.

Joann Fabrics was having an excellent sale this past weekend and I was there picking up fabric for a side project I will soon be sharing with you.  Justin and Audrey came with me and when I let Justin out of my sight for a few minutes, he came back with a literal arm load of picture frames, all 1/2 off.  That man of mine sure can spot a bargain!


So much for the bead and batten board.  I have to say though, I think I like this better.



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The best house projects are the ones that Justin gets involved with. It automatically skips the steps where I have to lobby for an idea or theme. Case in point, the dining room.

dining room

Our first joint purchase as cohabitators in 2006, was the bistro dining room table.  We bought that together and our parents each bought us chairs.   It was a fun set to have for entertaining and we used the extra two chairs to eat at the kitchen counter.  Unfortunately though, we realized quickly that a) you couldn’t substitute in a regular height chair for larger dinner parties so someone was either standing or eating at the coffee table and b) a little person would never be able to get up in the chair on their own for meals.  Also, Neuman and Piper the dogs had both done a number on the foot rest part of the chairs during their chewy puppy phase.  It was not pretty.

Luckily, I had a great family heirloom table waiting for me in my parents’ basement.  When we made the switch, we kept three of the bistro chairs, the three that hadn’t been chewed to bits by wild animals, with the intention of painting them white.  So far I’ve got one chair kind of spray painted.  I am so out of my depth with spray painting, being a tried and true paint brush kind of gal.  That will be a project for the warmer months.

While we were making changes, the $20 chandelier had to go too.   I’ll always have a soft spot for the old guy.  He was Justin’s first attempt at home electrical work and he knocked out power to the back of the house during the install.  Sam the local electrician had to come in to bat clean up.  In Justin’s defense, Ikea light figures are notoriously a bit wonky to install.

Justin actually picked the new chandelier out. It ties in beautifully with the brushed metal knobs and light fixture in the kitchen.  Time and experience has made him an excellent amateur electrician, so this install was a breeze.   Although, looking at the pictures, I think we might need to add a few extra rings to drop it down a bit.   I had also painted the ceiling white which makes the room look a lot brighter.


In January, Justin, Audrey and I happened to be in Ikea in New Haven shopping for who knows what and on our way to the check out, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a turquoise chair. I love the color turquoise and use it as an accent color all over the house. The chair was the absolute perfect color but and this was a big but, it was a metal folding chair.


I had never seen a turquoise chair before and definitely never seen a turquoise folding chair. I knew immediately though that a funky fun chair would work with our very classic looking dining table. While we didn’t actually fight, there was a mooning and some serious discussion about the chairs in the Ikea warehouse that day and in the end, we left with only two of the chairs for a “trial run”. A few days later two more chairs appeared. In a perfect world, I’d love to have six, but marriage and decorating is compromise. Trust me.


Now that we’ve gotten the room mostly complete, someone thinks they might want to install some bead and batten board this weekend.  Well, I’m on board with that.  Ha Ha.

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One last thing, Justin wants to put something in the corner of the room in between the window and the floating shelves.  I say no, but what do you think?


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To signify the end of a really challenging year for us, Justin and I debated wildly over where we could go to celebrate New Years.   We decided to take the Orient Point Ferry from New London, Connecticut over to Long Island.

We packed up the car with our two fuzzy friends, Piper and Neuman and some snacks!  They are both great in the car and did well with ferry ride (in full disclosure, we left Neum in the car with a bone and took Piper up into the passenger area).

If you are in Connecticut/NYC/NJ, you must go check out the Long Island wine trail.  We tried so many delicious wines and met a ton of really great people.  It was the perfect way to spend New Years Eve.  While we were celebrating the potential of a new year, we got some great news from our friends Jessica and Michael, who had just welcomed their beautiful baby daughter, Leah, into the world.  The day really couldn’t have been any better.

If you are an iPhone owner, I spent the day playing with my new lenses, from Photojojo (fish eye, telephoto and macro mostly). They attach right to the back of your phone with a magnetic ring.  $50 for three.  I’d say it is worth it.  Plus they give you a small plastic dinosaur.

We had a lot of fun going from vineyard to vineyard.  I love this shot of Justin.  This was at Lenz vineyard, which also had some of the best staff.  Great people.  What are you waiting for?  Just go!


Happy New Years!











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We are normally big New Years Resolution people.  Justin usually stiff arms me into doing something dramatic, like giving up pizza or burgers for an entire year.  He believes that a resolution should be significant, disciplined and a reminder of how lucky we are, by giving up something that we really enjoy.  It is kind of like doing Lent for an entire year.   I would imagine that we probably seem pretty smug in November.  “Look at those two, they gave up burgers/soda/fast food/pizza”….haha.  Even I’m sick of us.

This year we aren’t giving up any food items and instead focusing on our meals.  There is always room to cook more meals at home.  A few weeks ago, we purchased a share of a local, grass-fed cow.  It has been fun coming up with recipes and trying out new cuts of meat that we wouldn’t normally buy, with the added bonus of eating healthier meats.  We’re definitely going to do that again in 2012.

We don’t usually cook meals together, but tonight, while Justin was getting our dinner ready, I started cutting up the veggies for a crock pot meal that I’m going to cook tomorrow.

Nothing crazy, just some carrots, red potatoes, onions and a cut of beef (with a splash of whatever wine we have open in the house).   I’m still on the fence about whether to cook it tonight while we sleep or while I’m at work.  I’m a bit of a worrier, so if I use the crock pot while I’m at work, I set up my laptop webcam so I can watch it.  I’ve declared it the most boring web cam in history.  Piper the dog does occasionally make an appearance to sniff, so I can tell when it must be starting to smell good at the house.

Crockpot Cam

I threw everything into gallon sized plastic ziplock bags.  If we decided that we didn’t want to have a crock pot meal tomorrow, I could easily just freeze everything.

While I was cleaning up, Justin set the counter for our meal.  We try to use our china as much as possible.  We also put it in the dishwasher.  Why wait for a special occasion and baby it?

And of course, no new year meal would be complete without a delicious, fresh salad!





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I said, gosh darn it, we need to get an electrician.   You know when aforementioned electricity professional describes your overhead kitchen light as “being perfect for a garage, so don’t throw it out” that you are clearly not hitting the mark on style. 

The purpose of having our new electrician friend come over and spend time with us at a rate of $150 per hour was initially so that he could replace all of our bathroom vanity lights.  He did such a great job with that and only scared Justin a bit, so we decided to ask him back to install our new kitchen light.  


On a lunch break a few weeks back I ran into our local Ikea and purchased the BAROMETER.  I liked it enough and it had an Ikea name that I could pronounce.  Win Win.  Justin also liked it.  I should have bought a lottery ticket that day.  

Anyway, our electric friend saw the Ikea box and promptly declared that he charges double for “that sh*t” because it always requires extra work.   Since he had already taken down the “awesome for garages” light fixture, which is now OUR ONLY LIGHT SOURCE on the first floor (thank you, contractors for screwing a cabinet into the wire cable, thus knocking out power to the back-end of our house) (this is also why I wake up every morning with the desire to start with the strong stuff) I had no choice but to whimper pathetically and beg that he give us some light.  How mighty and powerful the tradesmen are!! 

Obviously I’ll have to get up there and tickle the ceiling with a paint brush in the very near future, but here it is in all of its Swedish glory.   It has bendy arms, so instead of pointing all the lights straight down in a cook-the-cook formation, I artfully arranged them to shine their goodness on our cabinets.


Now the kitchen has that museum quality that kind of works perfectly since we aren’t able to (touch) put  anything away until after they fix the oopsy daisies from construction.  

Today is counter top day and this evening will either be sponsored by unbelievable happiness or bourbon, so expect an update either way!


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So the kitchen project is moving along.  Each day there are new things to see.  Yesterday though, there wasn’t enough done to put up a post.

This is the view as you enter the kitchen.  The microwave still needs to be installed over the stove.  I think that plus the knobs will really make it seem real and close to the finish line.

The cabinet boxes are all in though, which is very exciting.  What isn’t exciting is the two scratches that appeared in the lazy Susan in the corner.  Ugh.  I’m sure that will get taken care of though.

So you can see that the toe kick has been installed.  Pretty!

The paper towels mark where the sink will go.

We picked beadboard for the knee wall.  At some point I’ll paint it.  We’d like to do picture frame molding in the dining room, so I suspect we’ll keep the bead board white.  I don’t know the rules for that.  I don’t dig the very visible seam in the middle but maybe there is an easy fix for that.

Now is where we cue the record scratch followed by the wah wah noise.  I was taking the pictures and I noticed something not good.

I leaned over the future countertop to take a picture of the new baseboard that the workers installed today and there, by the fridge is a gap, a big gap, between the floor and the bottom of the baseboard.  I busted out my level and the baseboard is level, the floor as you get closer to the fridge, is not.  If you’ve been with us all week, you know that we specifically focused on fixing the floor in that corner of the kitchen by reinforcing the existing joists and replacing the subfloor.  Insert head scratch.

We are meeting with the project planner, the Big Box Store scheduler and the General Contractor bright and early tomorrow to figure out if any of the minor hiccups (scratches and uneven cabinet doors) and the floor by the fridge are issues that can be easily remedied.

I have to say, I think I’ve rolled with the punches of this whole kitchen remodeling experience.  It is what it is.  That being said, I need easy.  I need the right answers tomorrow and I need this to all be done.  I still have stitches IN MY FACE.  I deserve a break universe!

On that note, I’m going to go pick up the wine I ordered at the fantastic Junior League Wine Tasting that happened last week, get a super fancy meal out of a drive thru window and come home to watch the Thursday night NBC line up (quick plug for our friend Sam.  He wrote tonight’s episode of Whitney so please watch and do much laughing).

Keep your fingers crossed for us!


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I would imagine that any young couple embarking upon the purchase of their first home does so with a youthful idealism and the totally misguided idea that the sellers aren’t trying to pull a fast one.  Well, that would be silly.

One thing that we’ve learned time and time again is that people can be incredibly shady.  A perfect, real-time example of this would be our current kitchen remodel.  When we had our contractor come check out the flooring in advance of the kitchen demo, he noticed immediately that there was a loose joist.  Strange, but worth fixing.  When we were putting together our budget, we factored in the removal of the current subfloor, reinforcing the joists and replacing the subfloor.  I’m really happy we did.

When Justin pulled up the linoleum last night, we found extreme old water damage, which would explain the dip in the floor under the refrigerator.  When the contractor came today, he said that based on the fact that none of the pipes show evidence of leaking, what was the likely culprit was a leaking fridge.  Makes sense with the pattern of damage.  He also said scary stuff about a person falling through (with my luck lately, I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time in that corner painting).

The far corner was the fridge location.

Being a regular Sherlock Holmes, we pretty quickly realized that “hey, the fridge we replaced in 2009, wasn’t leaking and the current fridge is definitely not leaking”  and we are the second family to live here.  I think we can all connect the dots.

Am I saying that the other family maliciously caused damage and didn’t disclose it?  No.  Would I put that past them considering all the other stuff we’ve had to replace or fix?  No.  (When we replaced the furnace, hot water heater and central air unit this spring, the tech guys told us the old stuff hadn’t been serviced…ever).

The point of all this?  I wish that we had been more careful about the inspection.  I think that we both fell so deeply in love with this place that it clouded our judgment and the seller took advantage of that.  Don’t let the fear of losing the property keep you from advocating for yourself, especially if there are concerns.  We’ve since discovered that sellers actually friends with some of our extended family, so there is always a chance that we’ll run into them someday.  I can’t wait.

The other important take away, if you are planning on doing a big scale remodel, don’t cut corners.  At one point we considered leaving the floors as is.  I shudder thinking about the future nightmare we are avoiding by doing it right.

The water damaged area is the darker wood on the right.

Our great team of workers are clunking away now and there are rumors that the new floor could be done by tomorrow.  More pictures to come!


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