Friday, July 29, 2011

Play Review - How To Succeed In Business (without really trying)

We went to NYC last weekend to meet up with some of M's family who had never been there before. We took the Staten Island ferry, we saw the Statue of Liberty, we did Chinatown and Little Italy, we put them on a carriage ride through Central Park, we stayed in a hotel in Times Square, we ate at fancy restaurants, and we took in a Broadway show. We had a 15 year old girl with us who is also a Harry Potter fan, so it seemed only appropriate that we see How To Succeed In Business starring Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter in those movies.

I didn't have any expectations of the play prior to seeing it. I had seen the original movie starring Robert Morse. You may remember Mr. Morse as a character actor in a number of t.v. shows and movies in the 1960s and 1970s, or from the series "City of Angels" or from "Mad Men." He's had a very long career on both stage and screen.

Because I had seen the original movie when I was just a child, I only remembered the general gist of the story. So when I saw the Michael J. Fox movie years later, The Secret of My Success, I thought it was the same story, just re-done a little bit. Now that I've seen the play and refreshed my memory on the story, I realize they are not the same story. Anyway, back to the play, it was AWESOME!! I can't begin to describe the talent of the cast, or just how physical this song and dance play was for the actors to perform. They really put their hearts into each number. They seemed enthusiastic and each number seemed fresh to them. When the play opened, there was great applause. When Daniel Radcliffe appeared, the theatre shook with the roar of the crowd, and there weren't that many young girls in the theatre. The audience really loved this guy. I would reserve judgment until the end. John Larroquette also got roaring applause when he appeared as well.

As I mentioned previously, John Larroquette was in this play. He played the boss of the company, even though there was a bigger boss above him. Daniel Radcliffe's character has a book titled, _How to succeed in business without really trying_, and it's through each chapter of this book we see Daniel's character miraculously climb up the corporate ladder with really no experience at all. John's character is a lovely man who is easily manipulated by his wife, his mistress and others. John played this part so well, one moment the imperious boss, the next a boy cheering for his alma mater, and the next a nervous man with his knitting to calm him down and his heart on his sleeve. When the cast came out at the final curtain and the audience roared for John, it was well deserved.

Now back to Daniel Radcliffe's character. It would be easy not to like his character, after all, he's a manipulator and uses people around him to meet his own desires. He is in many ways, taking advantage of situations to get ahead when he's really not qualified. So when you find yourself laughing at the ingenious ways he plants himself into just the right situation and at just the right time, you have to cheer for his boldness, creativity and work to study the company and its employees to put himself in that position. What could have been an arrogant little puss turns into a hero with Daniel's acting. You never feel like he's arrogant. You never feel like he doesn't deserve the promotions he keeps getting. You're more of the frame of mind, "I can't believe he just got that!" His comic timing was also impeccable! His facial expressions were hilarious and helped the audience tune into foreshadowing in the play. By the time the play was over, and all the actors were dripping with sweat from the dance numbers and physicality of the play, I ROARED with the rest of the audience at his curtain call. He just did a spectacularly, fabulous job with this role. I would recommend this play as a good old fashioned song and dance show. Very well done.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ocean kayaking

is much scarier than it looks. At least I didn't get dumped. You'll have to click on the pix to see them larger.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Given Day - Book Review

Is anyone else out there getting a little sick of all the home improvement postings? Yeah, I thought so, me too. So for a little change of pace, here's a book review of the first of way too many books on my summer reading list. Yeah, I've finished just this one all summer. I am trying though.

So, _The Given Day_ is by Dennis Lehane. He has also written _Gone Baby, Gone_, _Shutter Island_ and _Mystic River_. He is a good story teller. He gets down into a character, the time period, the sights and sounds of the period and does a good job of taking you away in your imagination.

_The Given Day_ is a single story with three main characters. The paths and the lives of these characters come together at various times and/or are in the same town at the same time, even if they are not in each others' lives at that given moment. The story takes place at the end of WWI, goes through the huge influenza outbreak of 1918, follows through on the anarchist and Bolshevik uprisings of the 19teens and all the labor unions and strikes. Most of the story is set in Boston, although some parts play out in Illinois, Ohio, and Oklahoma.

The first character is Babe Ruth, the baseball player, but in this story there are only two scenes that I recall where he's actually playing baseball. Most of the time when a section of the book comes back to Babe it deals with his inner demons, his childhood, his insecurities, his traveling, his drinking and philandering and his perspective on the times he's living in.

The second character is Luther. When we first see him he is a black baseball player at a time when the game was played by all white teams. He is a factory worker, a craftsman, a numbers runner and whatever he needs to be to make money. Luther always wants more out of life, more excitement and learns some very hard lessons about life and other people. He is probably the most genuine person in the book but it is only when he really sees other people for the way that they are, that he decides to stop pretending and finally becomes his true self.

The third character is Danny Coughlin, a Boston cop. Danny comes from a successful Irish family. His father is a well respected captain on the force and as a result, there are certain expectations of Danny. Everybody always thinks of Danny as his own man, blazing his own path, yet too many times Danny makes mistakes and isn't man enough to do the right thing or the thing he wants. A lot of trouble comes of this, but in the end he also hits rock bottom, discovers his true self and finds the courage to be his own man.

All the stories are interesting, each chapter will move from one character to another, and you slowly start to see their connections. I really enjoyed all the information on the history of the time period and the author's knowledge of the various streets and neighborhoods of Boston at that time and for also looking at issues from many different perspectives. Overall I'd say the author is a good storyteller, and it only took me a month to read it because I just don't make much time for reading. I'm trying to rectify that. I'd recommend this book as a good summer read.

The knobs have arrived!

The knobs and pulls arrived in today's mail. I couldn't wait to see them on the cabinet so I put them all on, keeping in mind I will just have to remove them again when I finally get time to whitewash the cabinets. I ended up going with all clear glass because I needed 3 different size knob sets and I couldn't get all the sizes I needed in the colored glass. Probably the clear glass is better in the long run, simpler is better, fewer distracting colors in the room. Here are some before and after shots.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Measure, measure, measure, I just can't say that enough.

So, do you remember this corner where I wanted to put this lovely overstuffed red chair from IKEA?

The initial problems were that the chair alone measured 41 3/8 x 35/ 3/8 x 34 3/8, add the ottoman in front of it and it took up too much floor space in the room. I also wasn't sure if having a big red chair in that corner would be too much red in the room. So I was stuck trying to decide on whether to still go with this chair and just not get the ottoman, or to go with this lovely chair from IKEA.

This chair is not as big. It measures 30 3/4 x 33 1/2 x 33 1/8. So, still struggling to decide between the two chairs and no time to run to IKEA to get either one until after visiting family left, I opted to put one of our old recliners in the room and cover it until I could make a trip across the bridge (Bay Bridge 2 1/2 hrs. one-way).

This is when I made a very crucial discovery. So I had my son and one of his friends carry the recliner upstairs and they left it in the hallway because they said it wouldn't fit through the doorway. I thought that was odd, because we have two of these chairs and its mate went through our master bedroom door and sits in there. So then I measured the chair, 29 5/16 x 32 x 32. Then I measured the doorway, 29 6/16 wide. It should fit. What was different? In the master bedroom, we were able to open the recliner chair, turn it sideways and turn the corner with it to get it in the room. In Min's room, you have the door and wall on one side, and you have the built-ins on the other side. There is no room to open the chair to work around the angles. So long story short, with a little of mom's tender loving brute force, I wedged the chair through the opening, taking a little paint and wood with me in the process, but the chair is in the room. I've obviously covered its dingy, beige ugliness with a red blanket temporarily, but now I have the dilemma of what chair to put in the room. Neither IKEA chair will work, and if I decide to buy a new chair, I'll have to forcefully shove the recliner back out of the room. So I study the recliner, are it's shape and style really that bad? Couldn't I just have it re-upholstered and make do? So I call around to some local upholsterers and ask for an estimate to re-cover a wing-backed recliner. They all say it will be cheaper to replace it than to re-upholster it. *sigh* So then I think, maybe a slipcover would work. The vast majority of slipcovers look like crappy, loose fitting blankets. Thank you very much, I already have that look.

So after looking at the red covered chair for a few days and forcefully eliciting opinions from unsuspecting family members, I do decide a red chair in that corner will be too much red, so the slipcover will have to be in another color. Here is the only nicely fitting slipcover I found for this type of recliner and I will get it in blue because none of the other colors they had available would even remotely work for the room. So lesson learned here people is measure, measure, measure, and apply a little brute force if the measurements are close.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I have completed the sanding down of the night stand and the bookcase.

I primed both pieces.

I finished a second coat of paint on the night stand, and am waiting for the bookcase to finish drying so I can put a second coat on it. Notice the afghan in the picture? I was trying to match the red paint to that color. I think I got pretty close. While I'm waiting for the bookcase to dry, I have to prime and paint the bedroom door. I sanded that down earlier as well because it had a tendency to stick and made it very hard to get out of the bedroom on humid days.

I'm getting closer to my Swedish bedroom inspiration, but I'm going to have to hold off on refinishing the floor and whitewashing the built-ins because we're meeting M's sister & her family in NYC at the end of the week and then they're all coming back here. So I will have the room as put together as I can by today, but then hold off on finishing while I clean the rest of the house get beds ready and do laundry, plus work the rest of the week. Back to work!

(Further Update)

So here's how it looks for now. I have to wait to refinish the floors and whitewash the built-ins. My glass knobs for the built-ins and the nightstand aren't in yet, so I still have a white knob on the nightstand.

I can't make it to IKEA for a few weeks yet to get a chair. I'll probably put one of our spare recliners in that corner and cover it with a red bedspread in lieu of a slipcover.

I have to get more do-dads for the shelves above the bed and hang the Star of Odin I purchased from a craftsman on Etsy.

Oh, and I had to use a miter box and cut shoe molding all around the room. That was stressful. Overall, even though it's not finished completely. I am liking the way it's turning out. What do you think?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who paints a room the same colors?

Well, I'll get to that in a moment, first, the floor.

See all those dots on the floor? In addition to removing the tack strips along the perimeter of the room, all over the floor I had to pull up staples where the previous owner stapled the mat to the floor. Tedious.

The hard part is done. After closer examination of the wood floors, I discovered worn spots and spots where the previous owner slopped paint and never cleaned it up. So I have to use paint remover and do some sanding, then I have to re-stain the floor to get an even appearance.

But next came the painting. Remember a few posts back, I can't remember if it was in the post or the comments, but I said I was debating on whether to paint at all because I wanted the blue on the bottom and yellow on the top, I just wanted it paler. So I painted, and after it dried, I challenge you to see the difference. This shot is BEFORE.

Here is the AFTER. The difference is there, but it's hard to tell. You can see the difference in the yellow in this shot. The original yellow was darker with a little more orange. The new yellow looks like butter.

The old blue was a shade or two darker than the current blue. But it was funny, after it was painted and dried, I couldn't tell the difference, neither could M. M wanted to know if it was worth the cost and effort to have it still look the same. I said the colors are brighter, and everything is now clean and fresh, rather than faded, dinged, and scratched. So yeah, it was worth it. I still have to paint all the white trim and shelves, then I'm going to tackle white-washing the built-in cabinets. After that, I will prime and paint some of the furniture a vivid red.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What will we find?

Oh I'm so excited! What will we find underneath this icky green rug? It's just like Christmas time, you unwrap it all and are surprised by what you find.

Well there's a thick mat underneath.

There are no stains on it, so that bodes well for the wood underneath not being damaged. Keep your fingers crossed.

Ohhhhh, it's a thing of beauty!

Look at those gorgeous hardwoods. Why would anybody put a nasty green rug over such loveliness?

Well, I've got tack strips all around the outside of the room to remove. I also have to remove all the staples where the former owner stapled down the mat under the rug. Thanks to B for using his muscle and ripping it all out. Back to work for me.

Getting There

29 plastic bins, 4 baskets, and 1 box later and Min's stuff is organized, packed, labeled and stored in the basement. We've tossed out about 4 bags of garbage (mostly catalogs).
Okay, so here's where the bed was and below it where it will be moved to the other side of the room to get more floor space.

The lovely green carpeting will be ripped out tonight. Since the bed will now be up against the far wall, that frees up floor space for half the room.

Over here in this corner is where I plan to put a reading chair. Still not sure if the chair and ottoman I want will fit here. Right next to it I plan to put a bookcase. Tomorrow I will begin the sanding and painting. Wish me luck!


So, having been a lifelong viewer of PBS's "This Old House" and "The New Yankee Workshop," it is firmly ingrained in me to "measure twice, cut once." So I decided, maybe I should put the furniture in the room to make sure everything is going to fit well before I start painting and before I order the chair. Good thing I did. It turns out the blanket rack looks too crowded up against the bed. Even though you can still open the wardrobe doors all the way, it's still too close. I'll probably have to scrap the blanket rack and continue to let Min use it as a saddle horse.

So the little end table fits nicely next to the bed. But then I got the measurements for the chair from the IKEA website and laid tape lines for the outline of where the chair would sit. The measuring tape is coming out at the depth the ottoman would. So the chair and ottoman I wanted to put in there will be too big and stick out too far, taking up all the free floor space in the room and blocking the walkway to the bed. Hmmmm, I'm going to have to rethink the chair/ottoman combo. Darn.

The good news is that the new bookcase is low profile enough that it fits in there nicely without sticking out too far or taking up too much room. Now that I've moved all the furniture up there, I think I might just throw down a drop cloth and paint it up there as well. It beats moving it all back and forth a few times. Now to find my paint slips so I can go pick up bright red paint, and pale blue and pale yellow paint.

Hey, Michele, what do you think of this Jennylund chair instead of the bigger Ektorp? It's about 11 inches narrower in width, and about 5 inches less deep.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Busy weekend

This weekend was much like any other, too busy, so my cleaning out of Min's room came to a halt. I'll need to get in there with a vengeance soon or it won't be done by the end of the month when M's sister and family arrive.

So as you can see, the bins are being filled with clothes and the shelves are slowly getting emptied. In addition to having way too many clothes, she also has way too many magazines. She told me which ones to recycle and which to donate, that just means I will have to sort them all rather than pitching the whole lot in one fell swoop. *sigh*

Saturday was my birthday, so I was allotted the entire day to do whatever I wanted. It was nothing exciting by most people's standards, but it worked for me, doing what makes me happy. So we went for an early morning jog, then got bagels, then went to the farmer's market and flea market. Then when we got home, I sorted and cleaned my garlic before heading out to see a movie.

Aren't these babies gorgeous? Thanks to my sister, Pat, for the original garlic that I planted to get these gems. They smelled so fantastic when I cut them that I wanted to immediately cook up something garlicy.

While at the flea market I picked up a couple of the pressed glass plates that I collect and this lamp for Min's room. I already had the shade and was trying to find a lamp that I liked when I spotted this lamp. I thought the stem would be a good match for the glass knob on the nightstand where I plan to place this lamp.

I got all sorts of nice things for my birthday, but here's the most exciting, my new ocean kayak. We tried it out on Monday at the beach, but the waves were too close together and too rough. We'll try again in the coming weeks. I'll report back on our success or failure.

We also went fishing with friends this weekend, or rather, M and the friends fished, I sat and read. Fishing doesn't do it for me. :-)

Unfortunately, the crabs were biting and stealing bait like crazy, but we didn't have any crab pots with us. They did manage to snag one crab on the fishing line. They also caught quite a few white perch and catfish. We'll be eating them for dinner tonight.

On 4th of July afternoon we went out to Assateague to meet up with a bunch of friends who invited us for a cookout/bonfire and to watch the fireworks over Ocean City. A number of horse herds showed up on the beach. It was quite a surprise for some people. I'll leave you with shots of the ponies. Hope you all had a spectacular 4th.