Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

We're going to a late dinner with friends, dessert back at our house, then downtown to watch a lit ball drop.  It's below freezing here and my feet hurt from helping my daughter clean out her apartment today.  Let's hope I behave myself and don't get too cranky.  M says I've already snapped at her once tonight.  Tired, hurt, hungry, cold, those are my triggers to being disagreeable.  Wish me luck, and I hope all of you have a great 2015.  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Book Review - Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

We heard a glowing review of this book on our local NPR station.   M decided to buy a hard cover copy of the book to have something interesting to read while on Christmas break.  I'm on break too and wanted to do some pleasure reading as well.  Unfortunately, I know how taking the time to sit still and read usually goes with me, I usually find cleaning, repairing, or remodeling projects to do, and I don't get around to reading.

Still, the premise of the book sounded interesting enough, and maybe I would actually take the time to read it.  The premise is a lethal flu virus wipes out 99% of the human population on Earth.  It's set in the current time.  It follows the story of a famous actor, and people connected to him.  The story jumps around in time from the actor's early life to later in his life, and from before the flu and up to 20 years after the collapse of human civilization.  

Well, I did read the whole book in less than 24 hours.  That right there should tell you a lot.  It was a quick, easy read.  It was interesting enough to reel me in, and keep me turning the pages.  I could easily imagine the characters and the events in the smoothly flowing narrative.  Okay, there's the good part.

Now for what I didn't like.  The author skipped around a lot, in different times, and with various character's lives and histories.  Sometimes the jump was seamless and logical, sometimes it didn't make sense and felt like the author was using the device as a crutch.  

Another thing I didn't like, and I'll try to explain this without being too specific and spoiling the story, was that the author spent a good bit of time building this one character and the character's backstory, creating this key player, powerful, tough to beat, only to snuff the character out very easily, and that was unsatisfying.  It felt like the author was trying to wrap up the story and had to resolve this character's story line, and just did it, without preamble.  It was very unsatisfying.  

The last complaint, there was a major thing that occurred near the end of the book.  It was never investigated, explained, or resolved in the story.  I don't know if the author is planning a sequel to this book, but that would be the only reason I would leave this gaping hole at the end of the story.

Overall it was a quick and enjoyable read, but I don't think the lavish praise the radio gave it was fully justified.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

Highlights from Christmas Dinner

The meal was phenomenal! No, really. M is such a great cook. The standing rib roast was cooked perfectly, very flavorful, and the roasted Brussells Sprouts, nutty and deliciou, however, her Yorkshire Pudding was decadently delicious. Also, a friend brought a ginger and fruit tart. I don't really care for ginger and the first bite didn't win me over, but I kept eating little bits, and then I began appreciating the subtle flavors and the creaminess. It was not sweet like I expected a desert to be, but it was refreshing with the fruit and I'm glad I didn't turn my nose up at it.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sights and Smells of the Holiday

The house smells fantastic, rib roast, veggies, Yorkshire pudding, mmm.  Waiting on friends to arrive for dinner.  Wish you all were here. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I got busy and didn't get back to posting about the bathroom remodel.  I've been busy taking long walks with the dog, decorating for Christmas, and doing a very thorough cleaning of the house before we have people over.  Here are pictures of some of the decorating.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The inspiration

There have been a few luxurious bathrooms in our travels, one in London, another in New York City, another in Estonia, that when we saw them, M said, one day, she wanted a bathroom like that.  The styles were usually open, a walk-in type shower without a door, lots of tile, glass, multiple shower heads, and towel warmers.  I never thought we'd actually ever have one of those bathrooms, it was more just a pleasant fantasy.  Then when M's mom gave us a gift so we could remodel the bathroom, we had to try to get a special bathroom.  This picture above is a basic bathroom walk-in shower that we thought might fit our budget.  We weren't sure if we had space for it.  

M and I had to agree on tile.  She wanted something basic, modern, and clean looking.  I wanted something traditional and classic that would fit the age of the house.  I was thinking a black and white bathroom, M was thinking grays.  We both agreed on subway tile, kind of like this picture above.  

When we went to pick out the gray subway tile, we also picked out this mosaic tile for an insert to break up the solid wall of gray tile.  When we had people come give us estimates to remodel the bathroom, we thought we might need to expand the bathroom to get what we wanted, which is what ended up happening.  We ended up gutting the whole bathroom down to the studs, which was a good thing considering past disasters the previous homeowner left us, and considering what we found when these walls were removed.  Okay, honestly, the next post will be the demolition.

Bathroom Remodel

The last room in our house that had yet to be touched by us was the upstairs bathroom, well except for the attic and basement, and I plan to get to them.  So the first time we saw this bathroom, before purchasing this house, we thought, how luxurious!  A HUGE jacuzzi tub, we could imagine long soaks after long days.  We'd never had a tub like that before, so what did we know? 

It doesn't look that fancy in this picture, because this is the reality.  A big soaker tub isn't practical in the real world.  There was a large couple of steps if you wanted to climb into the tub.  There was no shower door and the space was too wide to install a standard shower rod, so we strung a wire across the space so we could shower.  Also, it was a hand-held shower, for those of you who haven't tried holding a shower nozzle in one hand while washing your hair and body with the other hand, you have no idea how annoying that can be.  

Initially the brown color of the bathroom seemed calm, and relaxing, after nine years of that, it was just dark and depressing.  There was no counter space for everything, there's still not, but we're working on that.  

The other problem with this tub was that the previous homeowner did it and he didn't know what he was doing.  He never sealed the grout around the tub, so it quickly went from a light cream color, to an orangy brown that would not come clean.  You could not reach across the tub to clean it without falling in head-first, so you had to climb in the tub and get cleaning products all over yourself on a weekly basis.  I ended up just not using the bathroom, and instead, hauling all my stuff downstairs, and using that bathroom.  

We knew we would have to re-do this bathroom if we ever decided to sell this house, but after dropping 30k to do the outside of the house, there wouldn't be any money to do this for quite a while.  In comes M's mother, gifting us money to re-do the bathroom.   It wasn't enough to go hog-wild with the re-model, but if we were careful, and got some estimates, and bargained the price down, we might just be able to do it.  It took about 6 weeks to complete, but it's so nice now.  Next post, the rip out phase.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Yay!  Vacation time, finally!  Finals are done, grades are turned in, I've the preps for my Winter class done, now I'm moving on to decorating and prepping for Christmas.  Over this short break I hope to get some reading done.  I'm also hoping to get the attic insulated and wired for recessed lights and electrical outlets.  We'll see how far we get. 

Here's one of the books I plan to read.  I'm reading it to see if it would be a good text to assign for my students to read.  

This is another book I'm planning to read.  It's about a race riot that occurred near here.  I'm thinking of assigning it for my American history class.  Now I will start assembling a blog post about the bathroom remodel we just had done.  That should be a little more interesting.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

So funny

I don't know if this link will work, but I've watched it a couple of times today and it's so funny. This young guy goes around narrating what people are doing in public.  Click here >>> Like a Boss


Monday, December 8, 2014

Update on my niece

I was looking through my blog while my students take their final and saw pix of Lexi. I decided I should post some recent ones so you can see how she's grown. She will be 9 months old on the 22nd of this month. She is scooting and crawling around, trying to walk. She is still the happiest baby anyone has ever seen. She's not afraid of anything and has no problem with strangers picking her up. Her first encounter with Santa went beyond well. In the picture below you can see her smiling directly into the camera and hamming it up. What a blessing this baby is.

Here she is at 4 days old.
Here she is with daddy.
This is from when they visited us late this summer.
Here she is around 6 months old.
Here she is with Santa. She just smiled at him and then for the camera. What a sweet natured baby!