Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sweater Party Pics

So, in case you didn't know Eric and I are sometimes silly people. When we bought "the house" at the end of 2006 we threw a get-together to show friends and family what we were getting into. Since we survived the demo/reno and have moved in we thought it would be fitting to throw another party to prove that we really are living there and actually even have furniture! But we also like to be goofy so we decided to theme it a sweater party, not knowing those would be all the rage this year, so don't credit us with too much "hipness." I hit the thrift stores and gathered us a stock worthy of shuddering, we took a frightful pic expressing our feelings about holiday sweaters, plastered it on an evite and we were off! The photo that started it all:
(Rumor has it there are t-shirts with this image on it out there somewhere). Some of our first arrivals, Jon and Missy sported frocks that Missy crafted out of wrapping and contact paper:
We even gave out cheesy prizes for cheesy themes. Bru won "most ho ho ho-ish" &
Amanda made us want to put on sunglasses just to look at her:
Barb and Doug were tastefully matching and looked like they were apres-ski ready!
Goofy Dave (bouncing up in the background) wore a big furry sweater to match his lamb chops but you can't see that here:
The always-adorable Clark and Anne:
Anne's handcrafted sweater featured a tree with googly eyes and when she lifted her arms her sweater would SING! Our neighbors Billy and Michelle went for a white trash en vogue look in their holiday colored sweats. They flank other neighbor Clint in his woodsy themed attire:
Patrick and Patrick won "most crafty " with their ornament-al sweaters:
Amber and Nand should have won most festive:
Mark's home-slashed snowman was note the creative use of "yellow snow":

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Best Kind of Night Lights

Are holiday lights. And this is just half of them. Eventually the porch columns and railings were decked out too!
It's hard to get a non-blurry photo at night. Sorry!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween horrors!

Eric and I like to have fun in couples costumes when possible for Halloween. We've been Zorro and his lady love, Storm and Cyclops of the Xmen and one of the more goofy/ingenious creations: the Verizon wireless guy (can you hear me now?) and Eva Save-a-lot. This year we went with Amy Winehouse and husband Blake Fielder-Civil. It might be our most frightening combination yet. Do you have any idea how time-consuming it is to apply that many (realistically researched) temporary tatoos? Or the crazy eyes? Behold the power of wifebeater, fake fur and bouffant beehive hairdo:
Eric gives a worthy cracked-out look:
The duo:
We went to a party at the Adam's famiily household and shared couchtime with "Sheriff Aggie":
MUCH earlier in the evening we were visited by the too darling Reno clan:
Amy Winehouse was a far from original costume as there were three others at the party we attended. But Ivan had to be one of my favorites:
Bru and Amanda came with us. Amanda makes a mean Sarah Palin. She met her running mate at the Halloween High Ball:
Angela B wins for most realistic portrayal of Amy Winehouse. I think that's even her own hair: One may question who is the drag queen in this photo:

And it would be a legitimate query!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Proof Possum-tive

Have ye no doubt in the power of the peanut butter and pretzel sticks bait. Case in point...on the fourth setting of the trap on the following morning we find Mr. (or Mrs.) Possum lounging in the cage:
He/she was fairly unimpressed with our closer investigation, but still not nasty enough to warrant anything other than being released.
It waddled its way over to the neighbor's house (sorry Renos)! And the scoreboard has been updated.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Batting 1000

After capturing a raccoon last week I set the trap the very next night. We caught a possum. Since he was a gentleman (meaning he didn't hiss or growl at me) and I have no evidence that he is residing somewhere he should not, I set him free and he waddled off down the alley. Then we took a few nights off from what Eric refers to as "land fishing". Last night I set the trap again with our tried and true bait- pretzel sticks and peanut butter. Let's say I did that about 9pm. Just for fun I checked it about 10:30. Lo and behold...I found this guy:
We think he's number 2 of 3 who lives in the neighbor's roof (make that LIVED in the neighbor's roof).
So far we've not set the trap and NOT caught anything. Kinda funny and kinda frightening. I decided more funny and decided to keep score on our chalkboard in the kitchen:
Let's hope I don't have to add any other faces to the board. A squirrel wouldn't be bad...and there's the ground hog spotted in the shed. Luckily so far we haven't seen (or smelled) any evidence of skunks! I have no idea what we'd do if we caught one of those.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Oh Brother Where Art Thou?

Along the way we picked up our own humane animal trap. It's been sitting in the back yard with the wrought iron fencing pieces. Since we put up the fence yesterday it gave me impetus to also clean up and set the trap. I used our tried and true bait of pretzels and peanut butter (after all, if I love them, why wouldn't the raccoons?) But let me give you some background information. Since we moved in we've thoroughly enjoyed our second story porch. We like to sit out there with a glass of wine and watch the comings and goings in the alley. Before the seasonal skeeters (mosquitoes are thick down here by the river) chased us back in the house we became acquainted with a trio of raccoon siblings who would ramble about during dusk. We think one got a little too comfy in our yard back in June

That was when they were tiny and pretty cute. Now we've determined that they are all grown up and living in the neighbor's roof where it overlooks our house. We discovered this twofold: once while I was lying in bed Bogart suddenly became rapt with something going on outside. For visual effect, imagine Bogart calmly lying next to me in bed one moment getting his ears scratched then jumping up and "pointing" to something intriguing outside (and, effectively over my head). A raccoon was peering over the neighbor's gutter into the bedroom windows of our house. Further outside investigation with a flashlight led to the determination that the usual suspects (all 3 masked siblings) were foraging in the gutters. Another recent evening E was returning from a stroll with the hounds when he witnessed one of the now larger raccoons prying its body out of the hidey hole in the roof. Note: Eric is aware of the hole because he's been up there on a ladder cleaning out our neighbor's gutters (a task they do not see fit to accomplish themselves) in an effort to keep our basement drier.

While putting up the fence we mentioned the furry tenants to our neighbor who owns the house and who was on her front porch. She seemed entirely unfazed with the news as evidenced by this comment, "Really? Oh, I knew I had a squirrel living in there, but I didn't know anything about the raccoons!" Well, alrighty then! Keep in mind that an enormous branch from the tree in her backyard that was blown over during the "hurricane" back in mid-September is still attached to the trunk and lying across the backyard. We suspect she'll address the animal issue with the same urgency.

So, just for "fun" we set the trap out by the van. And early this morning found it occupied with one of the bandits. At first we weren't sure whether it was one of our familiar trio, but then the evidence mounted. I heard something on the neighbor's roof and saw a single raccoon "watching" us investigate the trap. Then we heard something clammoring through the bushes (we thought on the other side of the neighbor's yard). Until Eric shouted, "Mary! He's on the tree RIGHT NEXT TO ME!" Once spotted he decided to go a little further up the tree (but he was originally only about 8 feet fewer)

When I started taking photos of him he sought refuge in the crook of the tree:
We decided he was trying to spring his bro (we're assuming gender here, we didn't check). He failed and his sibling will now reside....elswhere.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Just in time to add Halloween flair

You may recall that about this time last year we went on an adventure to Dayton and purchased an old wrought iron fence. Those unwieldy pieces have been resting in the backyard (chained up of course given the price of scrap metal these days) since we moved in back in April. Yesterday, E got the brilliant idea that we should try to put it up. So off to Lowe's we went to purchase rebar and straps. We had six lengths of wrought iron fencing in various lengths. The fence took about an hour to install, each length had a wrought iron tube attached which was perfect for hammering a piece of rebar in to anchor it. We used metal straps to anchor the end pieces to the hand rail and adjacent sections of fence. Here's Eric levelling the fence:
The view from the sidewalk:

An "artistic" view from the lawn...
One of these days we'll scrape and repaint the fence black. For now we think it adds extra spooky ambiance to our Halloween decor!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Animania Continues

Been awhile since we posted, but this is one of my favorite subjects to share: the wild creatures that visit (or live at) our home. Who would have thought that such an urban neighborhood would have such wildlife?

Take a look at the photo below. This is our very full shed. Notice anything? Near the front bike tire & green shelf? Brown, and kinda ground-hog like? Well, I surprised this fellow outside the shed next to my Vespa. He darted under the door to the shed and I thought: "Oh, is he living under the shed? I thought I closed off all the holes leading below the shed." So I open the door to see, and it looks like he might be living IN the shed.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Beautiful Inside & Out

Summer is usually a hectic time for us. I took a 2 month hiatus to prep for ComFest where I am a vendor. There was much crafting to do to have stock to sell. Now that that's done I can refocus on our abode. For instance, after 11 years of owning this lovely metal plant screen we have for the first time used it for its intended purpose...the housing of plants and the screening of our neighbor's too close for comfort porch:
We planted a lovely assortment of herbs and created a mini kitchen garden. Here's to hoping her cigarette smoke doesn't smother our little greens. Next up I filled the gorgeous ceramic planters that Eric gave me for Valentine's day last year with rosemary and flowers:
Eric and I are now Elfa-addicts. Elfa is the Swedish shelving systems available at the Container Store. They have sales twice a year and our neighbor Becky is on their list to receive coupons. She kindly adopted us and we got a deal on the shelving for our basement stariwell. We now have an organized place to put all of our not so oft-used camping gear:
As well as our year's supply of carbonated beverages. There's just so much space in the stairwell (it was formerly a wraparound porch MANY years before we owned it) and the shelving really maxes out the opportunities. Since the shelves on the back wall are so far up we also mounted a ladder on the wall (a metal one came with the house but some scrappers stole it out of the back yard) for easier access:

I created a new bed in front of the porch and augmented the free flowers from our friend Biran (irises and coreopsis) with some purple balloon flowers:
And I added the containers around the steps. Our formerly tulip-ed front bed had become a weedy mess so I ripped out all of the interloping weeds and added perennials:
Eric found one of the terracotta pots that mounts to the wall and put it on the back of our shed. I accessorized it:
After many headaches with the water in the basement we may have come to a happy conclusion.
Eric spent a few hours putting hydraulic cement about 2 feet up the entire wall:
The perimeter:
The battle with nature continues. The evil squirrels decided that they wanted back into the comfy house they used to have in our eaves. Little brats tried to chew their way back in:
While I ComFested last weekend Eric made use of the Miller's tile saw to finish the final detail work in the bathroom:
A little grout and we're good to go!
This has been your mid-July update!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The battle against nature continues

We've been a little waterlogged Chez Martineau with the summer storms of the past couple of weeks. When we bought the house we knew that we could get a fair amount of water in the front room of the basement, but it appeared that the water came from under the stairs and so one day might be fixable. Perhaps that day has come.

With repeated storms last week (we got 4" in one hour one day) we took on some significant water in the front room of the basement (a couple inches, but not enough to make it into any of the other rooms). Normally, this would be a minor inconvenience, however, as we stashed most of the contents of the basement of our old house in the first room while making plans to organize the back two, there's a little more at stake. At one point (well, at several points) Eric was outside in the midst of a rainstorm re-grading dirt and push-brooming the lake of water down the hill from between our house and the neighbor's (who we will patently blame for the water in our basement as their gutters are so clogged and dirty that brand new plants are growing up there and they overflow and land between our houses). Meanwhile, I was shop-vac-ing water out of the front room when I realized there appeared to be water in the heretofore DRY second room. I flipped on the light in there to witness a small stream coming in below the new glassblock window. I alerted Eric who immediately tackled that fountain from the outside and stopped the flow. It would probably help if we had actual grass in our backyard instead of the mud patch that just creates a pond out of our entire backyard.

Then we had guests staying over this past Friday when another storm broke out at 4AM. I awoke at 6AM on Saturday morning wondering where my husband was. He was in the basement shop-vac-ing water (sorry Tim & Carol!) and using hydraulic cement to attack a new (3rd) leak that sprung around our water connection in the second room in the basement. So finally, fed up with the repeated deluge, on Sunday Eric removed the stairs to the basement (actually just took them up) and used the Dry-Lok cement to fill in a number of holes under the steps. We've not had any serious rains since, but we're hopeful that we've finally addressed the main problem!

(Eric Here): Quite discouraging, really. For long-time readers, you may recall a half-dozen previous posts where I discussed my attempts to control the water in the basement. New gutters, a french drain, re-grade, gutter extensions, a drainpipe to direct 100% of the east side roof water down the front hill... I'm probably forgetting a few. And each time, a mother-of-a storm rolls through and our basement gets an inch or so of water.

On the positive side, it does happen much less frequently (or so it seems, as the frequency depends upon the weather). And the 4'' rainfall was truly a record-setter which had some streets in Columbus under 3 feet of water, so I shouldn't be surprised that the improvements I had made couldn't cope with such a massive rain.

So as Mary said, I tore up the stairs to the basement to access the wall where the water was coming in. The good news is I found a number of cracks where the water seemed to be entering. My hope is that by filling the cracks with hydraulic cement, the water will no longer be able to enter at all. Of course, water has to go somewhere... it is my hope it finds its way into the french drain rather than finding some new hole.

Time will tell...

Friday, June 6, 2008

An old friend returns

Remember our great adventures with raccoons from last year? Well, we deported a number of them. And it seems at least one decided to return for a visit. Or maybe, as it looks pretty young, it is a teenager who just wanted to see where his mom or dad grew-up. I (Mary) let Bogart out to do his business this morning. I sat on the porch and watched him for a minute then went in to pour his breakfast...when all of a sudden a RUCKUS broke out in the backyard and Bogart was barking hysterically (really, he was using his "big dog" bark). I run out and see a raccoon cowering behind our flower planter. I corral Bogart back into the house and don several pairs of leather gloves and think "he's itty bitty, I'll just put him in a tree." So I pet him on the back and he hisses at me nastily. I think better of attempting to manually relocate him and figure he'll move along once he's calmed down from the canine hysteria. After half an hour I have to be getting off to work and warn Eric about our visitor lest he accidentally let the dog out for round 2. An hour later and Eric finds we have a new resident in the backyard. Somehow he thought this was the best place to bunk down for the day, right off of our back porch in the fenced yard where we run our dogs.

Below, I've (Eric now) delivered a wake-up call and explained our "early checkout" policy:

With the aid of my trusty hockey stick, I manage to get him to leave the fenced yard. At which point he decides to find new accomodations:

Yes, that is the rim of our van tire. Well, with gas prices being what they are, I'll be taking the vespa today anyway, so I guess he's safe for now.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cardboard Kingdom

It's been over a month since our last update. The reason for the lapse is there just is not that much to report. We have moved in and things are going well, but it takes a long time to settle in. There is the whole issue of unpacking. We have the major rooms unpacked, but still have a sea of cardboard boxes in the LR and DR. Plus, the 101 small items of differing priority that we have to tackle just don't have a whole lotta WOW! factor. We hang some art one night. Another day I clean out the shed so we can 1. reach the items in it, and 2. put more in it. We do some more painting on the exterior porch. I rake 1 million concrete pieces out of the dirt that is our yard. See, no "Wow!"

One major accomplishment was to hook up the washer/dryer. Long-time blog readers may recall our dryer's cord didn't match the dryer outlet (3 prong vs. 4 prong cord). A new cord from the hardware store and some heavy lifting (to reach the cord connection) and gymnastics (to plug it in inside our small stackable-w/d closet) and we are able to clean our clothes!

I have a list of about 50 other small projects to complete, and I know it's not a comprehensive list, so it will keep me busy for months to come.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Another organizational feat!

You might recall that we had them frame in the extra space behind our master bath for a slim little linen closet:
This weekend I got out the tools and put in the shelves for our previously open space. Some cheating was involved. As I picked up the paint-ready pine boards at Lowes they were already the right width for the closet (hooray for 20") and they will do a couple cuts for free, so I just had them slice my shelves to the right depth. Then I painted them hearts of palm green (like the closet walls). We had lots of leftover 1" trim that I cut with the jigsaw (just because it was handy and they were only tiny cuts) to the right length for shelf brackets. I squeezed into the closet and did lots of measuring and leveling and stud finding to attach the brackets, popped in the painted shelves and VOILA~ instant linen closet:
OK, it was really like 2-3 hours worth of work between the finding of supplies, cutting of supports, sanding, painting, measuring, affixing, etc. But it all worked out right (read: level) the first time and I did it all by myself (Eric was at the Clarksdale Blues Festival in MS) so I was pretty pleased with my organizational quotient for the weekend! Now we just need storage for the basement, the steps to the basement and the shelves and bar for the coat closet!

What to do with an obscene amount of clothing?

Hi, my name is Mary and I am a clothing addict. My weakness is vintage clothing and thrift store finds. I likely have not seriously shopped in a bonafide department store since I left my job as assistant manager at Elder Beerman (Department Store) some dozen plus years ago. But I can have a field day at an outlet mall. Which has led me to this...we have a magnificent and HUGE new closet (compared to many in old houses + our old house) and I am still trying to devise a system that will accomodate my collection of clothing and shoes (Doc Martens are kinda chunky, ya know?). Eric seems mostly settled on his half (40%?) of the closet...while he technically has less of the space, he's got the "full-size" space with walls and a ceiling that neatly meet at 90 degree angles:
I am working in the eaves on my side. So envision a 16 inch span of flat ceiling, that connects to a wall that is immediately at a 120 degree angle until it meets the floor (it's been a long time since my last geometry class, forgive me if that is totally off). My ingenious mother helped me put in four wood pillars which then attach to angled blocks anchored into studs on the drywall so I've got 4 hanging bars that work for my on season (in front) and off season (in back) shirts and jackets. The right side:
The left side:
And I've got a fabulous old brass fixture from my former clothing-store-owning friend Anne (thanks Annie) that sits amidst the pillars and houses my "long hanging":
Because, yes, I'm still sentimentally attached to my wedding dress (among other things) and my parents kicked it out of the closet at their house. The big hanging picture:
So, most of my tops, jackets and dresses have a home in the closet. What I'm still working on is medium-height hanging for my pants. I thought it would be brilliant to just hang a bar from the ceiling- it's flat, I can fix it into the studs, I can still access my other stuff....but I can't find anyplace that sells ceiling hanging bars (our ceiling is maybe 6' tall, so I could easily reach it). I think this space needs just that:
Not Lowes, not Bed Bath & Beyond, not even my last bastion of hope The Container Store could solve the dilemma and give me a ceiling hanging rack or suitable alternative. And, yes, it's all on an adjustable mobile rack right now, but it's taking up too much space. So if anyone has any brilliant insight, I'm all ears!
Other workable stuff we assembled includes a sweater shelving rack that steps down with the angle of the wall:
A shoe rack that fits in at the bottom of the floor angle for shoes on top and storage below:
And these great armed towel holders that I got from Ikea, but mounted on the side of the sweater shelving that are working fab for handbags:
That's the closet so far! Stay tuned for more organizational accomplishments!