Friday, November 25, 2011


I have a lot for which I am thankful. A husband who is so perfectly suited to me. He is so smart and funny and nice. Marriage isn't easy, but I know he works just as hard as I do to nurture our relationship. Two happy and healthy sons who make me smile whether they are cracking me up, being sweet to each other, or just being naturally adorable. A nice, comfortable home and the potential for an even larger home to fill with love, family, and friends. I feel truly blessed and thank God for all that He has given me. Even the hard stuff. Some times I struggle to decipher what is the lesson I am supposed to be learning from my pain, but I know there is a lesson in there somewhere, even if it is as simple as re-learning compassion and empathy.
I am also thankful for a husband who enjoys entertaining as much as I do. Because Mr. W takes such an active roll in preparing the dinner, I can enjoy my share because I am not totally overwhelmed. After so many years of hosting Thanksgiving I feel we really have our routine down. Adding two little boys underfoot is only a minor challenge to getting the house and the meal together.
This year Mr. W's birthday fell on Thanksgiving so I decided that after years of procrastinating, I needed to make him one of his favorite pies: banana cream or cocoanut cream. I've never made a custard pie, so I've always been reluctant because it looks hard. Plus since he likes them so much I'd hate to make a bad one. I was totally going to do it last year when my Aunt R hosted Thanksgiving because I was pregnant. But, I was 8+ months pregnant and wimped out at the last minute and bought one at a local bakery instead. It wasn't good so I had to redeem myself this year. I used this banana cream pie recipe from MS, including the crust. Hello, butter! I thought having to strain the custard before adding the butter and bananas was a little over-the-top-Martha, but Mr.W assured me it would be quite worth it. Other than that, the recipe and process wasn't that hard. I'd only had one cup of tea and measured out cornmeal instead of cornstarch, but that catastrophe was averted when I realized my mistake just in time.
Not all my cousins were joining us this year, but I did still need to set a second table. I keep track of the seating arrangements and rotate who sits at the auxiliary table. I set it for 3 this year and used this Irish linen tablecloth and the blue china.The dining room table I set with a green linen tablecloth and the Moss Rose china. Mr. W found a special "Happy Birthday" plate with similar flowers years ago when we were antiquing. HE thought it would be a sweet tradition to start. (See, perfectly suited to me!) So I set his place with the birthday plate.I also decorated with pumpkins we brought home from the pumpkin patch. While looking through a PB catalog at my mom's I noticed they used antlers as centerpieces. I thought to myself, I have an antler! Yes, when I was in 7th grade we went on a field trip to the Ape Caves and as we were hiking along I found an antler. This was before I knew it was poor form to take souvenirs from the forest. And since we are hoarders, I knew exactly where I kept it so I made sure to pull it out before we loaded the POD. Admittedly, one more antler would look better for balance. The funny thing about the antler is that it wasn't just ornamental, but it was educational too. It sparked a conversation which lead to a great debate about whether or not deer, moose, elk etc shed their antlers every year, and how could they possibly grow that big every year. Iphones were consulted, answers were shared, and we all were a little more informed after the meal.
Our Little Helper enjoying his turkey leg.
For dessert we had a selection of 4 pies and sang Happy birthday to Mr. W.We also attempted some photos for our Christmas card since we were all dressed up. I had to bribe Our Little Helper with chocolates to sit and smile for 4 good photos.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Baby Boy is 11 months old!

I can't believe how fast it goes the second time around. I better hold on tight to this boy or he'll be off to school before I know it. We have been so blessed, he is a very easy baby, as was his brother. Here are some of the milestones he is passing:
  • He is a great cruiser and has stood, briefly, as few times. He also likes to hold on to my hands and take a few steps. I was really worried that he'd walk for the first time this week while Mr. W was in Japan because then I'd have to lie about it. But he is still content to walk while holding my hands and then drops down and crawls off like a shot.
  • He can wave. He has been doing it for a while, but this week I caught him waving out the window to no one. So cute because that is where he and his brother stand to wave to Daddy! He will wave bye bye to people pretty consistently.
  • He just started clamping his hands together this week. He's pretty please with himself about this one. He has been dancing in his highchair for some time now, turning his torso side to side with his arms in the air, but now he's got the clap too. (Well, he doesn't have that clap)
  • Tooth #7 is coming in. He's been a bit fussy about it, but not too bad. I didn't even really notice he was teething until I noticed the whiteness poking through on Thursday.
  • He's calling me Ma Ma! This is especially awesome! We were at my mom's for the family's fall birthday party and she was holding him and wanted to nurse and he started saying Ma Ma Ma. I thought it sounded like Momma and so did my mom so I considered those two votes to make it official. He has been saying it all week and My Little Helper has been noticing it too. From my experience this seems early. It certainly wasn't among MLH's first words.
  • He said Da Da today! Mr. W returned home today and got to change a duece at bedtime. He asked Baby Boy to, "Say Da Da" and then he did. We all heard it so that was pretty special. MLH wants Baby Boy to say his name now. That may be a ways off yet, but that will really be special.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Martinmas: Roasted chestnuts

My Italian Holiday Cooking cookbook has a recipe for Hot Roasted Chestnuts for the feast of St. Martin. Since we gathered a basketful of chestnuts on our foraging walk I decided we could roast them tonight. We have a full week so I thought I would make something simple for dinner like roasted chicken breast, sweet potatoes, and frozen peas. I noticed fresh ginger in the refrigerator and thought maybe I could make a sauce to go on the chicken with it so I seasoned the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and ground ginger. Mr. W had a sauce in the freezer to which I added the ginger. We also tried to have Baby Boy eat the baked sweet potatoes, but he doesn't seem to be ready for them in non-pureed form.
For some reason I thought that you are supposed to put little x's on the chestnuts before you roast them, although that is clearly not in the recipe. They were so bitter and yuck. I felt bad becasue My Little Helper was so excited to eat the nuts he had gathered. But neither Mr. W nor I have ever eaten chestnuts before so we had no idea of what they are supposed to taste like. It was kind of a disaster. I don't know if scoring them with an x first made them dried out or if there are some varieties of chestnuts that are no good. I don't know why anyone would want to write a song about these chestnuts roasted on an open fire! Clearly more research is needed before I attempt something like this again!

POD people

I'm really glad that the movers arrived an hour late beyond the 2 hr arrival window they gave me. It's not like I had to coordinate around dropping My Little Helper off at the playhouse or baby naps. ::eyeroll: And then once they finally arrived the fatehr was all grumpy and seemed annoyed by the amount of stuff we had. Hello, I'm paying you to be here to move stuff, and we ordered the 16' POD? Why would you expect anything less than a ton of crap to move? I made it very clear when I scheduled that the majority o f items to be moved were located in the basement. There were no surprises. Later I learned that he was tired because they had been in Seattle late last night til 11. So it's not clear to me when they drove back down, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was that morning and THAT is why they were so late. I called him at 10:15 when he was only 15 minutes late to check is location and he told me then that he was almost here and would be about 15 more minutes. Yeah, they didn't pull up until 11:00 AM.
But they filled that POD with all our stuff. It is a good thing I ordered 2 dozen moving blankets. I was actually one short by the end, so I clearly will need to order a ton more when we do our real move. That's the scary part; this was just a practice round. And frankly, our basement is still filled with a ton of crap, a lot less crap, but it isn't anywhere close to being the "clean, dry, and empty" for which our Realtors are hoping. To be fair, Mr. W wasn't able to relocate his wine cellar to our firends house before he had to go to Japan. That will help clear our a lot more space, but our tool bench and shelves with camping and canning supplies is untouched.
I did enjoy the son from the moving duo. He called me Mrs. W all day long. I loved it. Especially because I'm missing Mr. W. Four days down, 4 more days to go. Dear God, continue to give me strength and patience to survive!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The POD has arrived!

My Uncle M was finally able to return today to help with getting our exterior winterized and ready to sell. Today he cleaned the gutters, brushed off the moss on the roof that her could safely reach from the ladder, did some pruning, and applied a coat of the trim on the potting shed. It was a lot of work and he'll return on Friday to clean up leaves and plant some native plants in the back yard.
It was great that he was able to come the same day the POD was delivered because it turned out that the branches on our hawthorn out front were too low to get the POD perfectly centered in front of the house. (All that work this weekend stalking cars in front of the house and moving both our vehicles to reserve a spot!) SO he was able to trim branches specific to the POD placement needs.
I had reserved a 12' POD, but as we began to evaluate the massive amount of boxes in our basement, not to mention the furniture, we decided it would be better to go with the 16' and not fill it all the way rather than go with the 12' and still have a ton of crap that needs to be moved offsite some other way. As it is we still may need to store more things in my mom's basement after the holidays are over.
Did I mention Mr. W is in Japan on business? He found that out a week ago so I decided to move the POD delivery up a week, no point in waiting until right before Thanksgiving if he won't be around to help pack up his stuff. I'm feeling a little stressed. I have had a headache today, my second this week, and this one isn't PMS.
Tomorrow the movers arrive. I plan to take My Little Helper to the playhouse to avoid any issues while the movers are here. Plus it will be a nice break for me since I am alone with both of them all day with no help. My mom did come to Mass with me this week since I was scheduled to be a Eucharistic Minister and obviously can't watch the boys while I am doing that. Then she came over here to watch them for 3 hours while I did some packing in the basement. When she was leaving he asked when he could play with Grammy again, and I casually mentioned that she might want to come over to visit later this week. I was hoping she might because I can only imagine how burnt out I will be by then. She mentioned that she has things going on every night but Thursday. (Which is what she tells me every week, frankly.) But then said, "And it might be nice for me to just go home so I can have a break." Um, yeah, that must be nice. I swear, it seems so weird to me that I see her so seldom. I feel like if my dad weren't dead, I would probably see her more. But I wonder why I am not seeing her more, rather than less, since he is dead? I feel like he would have been dropping by all the time to see his grandchildren. Don't get me wrong, she babysits practically every time I ask, but I guess I didn't think I'd have to ask. I thought she would just want to come by and see them more often. She makes herself so busy! I can understand wanting to be busy when you are grieving to not feel the weight and reality of being alone, but I would think visiting with one's grandchildren would fill that void better than going to the gym and zumba classes. She does ask to have My Little Helper come and spend the night with her when she "needs her fix" which is great and I welcome that. But she never calls because she needs a "fix" of me. I guess I just feel a little sad and rejected at how she is dealing with her grief. Makes my grief more difficult because I play the "what if" game more.
Wow. That is not where I thought I was going when I started this post! My intended message was: the POD is here and I think I'm ready for it. I better be!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The home office staged to sell

I was able to finish up staging this room for the marketing photos today. I actually had it ready yesterday, but the light was fading so I decided to wait until today to shoot it.
I moved my lingerie chest from my bedroom here to free up space in our bedroom. The locally made glass vase was a wedding gift from my uncle. It looks really great in here, it gets lost downstairs with the wallpaper. The Steelcase file cabinet we also have to keep so that we'll have access to our files and documents. It needs love, but I'm hoping that by having it in the corner here its flaws will be overlooked.Here's a better shot which avoids that chippy cabinet. I'll probably submit this to our Realtor.I really adore these windows. I wish that our bedroom or the nursery had these 16 lite sashes. I always thought this would make such a sweet bedroom. Actually Our Little Helper does want this to be his bedroom. I might put a few toys in the back corner until we go on the market so he can play in here when I need to let his brother nap.When we redid the Lloyd Yoder Memorial Theatre we also stripped the woodwork in the hallway upstairs including the doors. At the time we just didn't have the money to strip the paint from all the bedrooms too, and it wasn't uncommon to have the bedroom woodwork painted anyway to save costs on wood. None of the trim in this room is original anyway, so paint is our only option. So the door is stained, since it is an operable feature, and prone to nicks and chips it makes more sense to have it stained to help camouflage any damage. Plus I just love the fir grain on 5 panel doors.This isn't the largest room, but is seems much more spacious now that the ceiling isn't dark and the majority of our furniture is cleared out.Here's a nice view of our Steelcase tank desk and the new desk chair I bought earlier this week. I was able to 'shop' our own house for most of the accessories in this room. The little desk lamp was a gift from Mr. W's sister & husband, but had been sitting in a closet in our tv room for lack of space. The planter arrived with the birth of Our Little Helper now with the addition of a "mossy" plant he picked out this week. I couldn't help myself when I saw that giant clothes pin at Cost Plus. And of course the nerdy, Edward Tufte copy of a graph of Napoleon's March on Russia with a new matte and frame. I'm really happy with how it turned out. It isn't really my style, but it is nice and modern looking.I didn't want to spend any more money on hardware than the $40 I already spent for the curtains. So I pulled so white ribbon from my stash and used some 3M hooks as tie back holders. Not as pretty as what I'd find at Rejuvenation, but a good, temporary fix to stage it to sell. I blouse the fabric over the hook so it isn't visible anyway.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I love a good deal!

I'm not quite ready to post photos of the middle bedroom which we use as an office yet. But here are a few progress photos. I don't have any true before photos because this room has always been to scary to photograph, not an Oprah expose on hoarders scary, but scary nonetheless. Unfortunately it has always been a dumping ground for stuff we don't know where else to put and Mr. W has a bit of a cardboard addiction. This room was the nursery for the previous owners. They had glow in the dark stars and a cardboard constellation on the ceiling for their son. The celestial theme somehow made them think that painting the ceiling a dusty plum color in a small bedroom was a good idea. It just accentuated the low ceiling height here and made this modest room seem tiny. Oh, and they painted all the trim periwinkle blue. Now, I'm seldom a fan of painted woodwork, but periwinkle? Really?So here is where we started prepping the room. Notice that that dormered ceiling slope is not just dark because of the shadows, rather it is painted the same dark color as the ceiling making that little corner a place where light goes to die. Another point I'd like to make is that I have always loved these 16 lite window sashes. That is until I had to wrap each muntin with blue painter's tape. So tedious!!!
Here is one coat of Benjamin Moore's white on the trim and Linen #__ on the ceiling. That sloped plane still casts a shadow, but now it isn't as extreme.
Another view of the white washed room.Here two coats on the ceiling and trim and one coat of #__ on the walls, except for that slope which has the ceiling color. I wanted to be positive that it should be the wall color, so I saved it for last. And my verdict is yes, having it broken up by the ceiling color draws more attention to this funny corner.Painting complete and we're ready for new carpet!One last look at the gross, blue, commercial grade carpet in this room. Seriously yuck, I wish we could have replaced it years ago!And now with the new grey, wool carpet installed. We are only going to move a few furniture pieces back into this room to stage it for moving. The Steelcase tank desk and vertical file cabinet and the black lingerie cabinet from our bedroom. Our Realtor thinks it is too crowded in our room, but I need the storage space so it can't go in the POD. I want this room to look bedroomy too, even though we use it as an office, so I went to Target and bought some simple white, Shabby Chic curtain panels and tension rods for the windows. They are way too long though, but I have a quick fix, no sew idea for them.
I realized after we moved everything out that the Steelcase desk chair form my FIL was leaking oil, and a caster keeps popping off driving Mr. W bonkers. He wanted to pitch it, but I'll put it in the POD too and fix it later. In the mean time I started looking for an inexpensive, moderny looking chair. I wasn't sure if I should go white moulded Ikea style or something a bit more Ballard Design by using an upholstered dining room chair in white, like this. A helpful Nestie suggested this chair which is awesome, but a bit more than I was hoping to spend. Plus, would it work in the Mt. Tabor house? I found this one at Cost Plus and Mr. W approved with the caveat that I had to get a chair cushion for him too. I drove out there and tried it. It was super uncomfortable and hit my back in the wrong spot. Plus it wasn't unfinished metal. The metal patina was painted on; I knew it wouldn't take much for this chair to look like crap. But I found this chair which is similar to the other white leather desk chair, but much less expensive. Plus, all furniture was 25% off so I got it for $97. As I drove home it occurred to me that it wouldn't go to waste in the next house anyway. While it might look too out of place in the formal study on the main floor, It would be perfect as a desk chair in the boys' room. Perfect all around!
On my way home I also stopped to get a ready made frame and a custom matte. It turns out Aaron Brothers is out of business so I went to Michael's. Mr. W has this nerdy engineer graph of Napolean's March to Moscow that he was wanted to frame for years. I thought it would be a nice simple, graphic piece and large enough to fill the wall above the tank desk. Turns out Michael's was having a 40% off sale on all their frames so I got a nice substantial black frame for $29. Yay for good prices on items to stage our office to sell!

The Master Bedroom reveal

Mr. W and I spent my birthday weekend moving furniture and painting our bedroom and the middle bedroom in preparation for the new wool carpet which was installed Monday. Boy am I tired! I remember when I used to spend my birthdays getting kicked out of bars! And as I painted, I had time to reflect that it has been 15 years since I turned 21. Ouch! But that's okay, being grown up means a new bedroom and hopefully soon a Victorian house!
I'll start with a few before pictures. Mr. W didn't paint anything when he bought the house. I kept thinking that if we converted the basement to living space, we might be able to eliminate the furnace chimney that runs through our closet. As a result I never painted this room because I thought I'd want to strip all the painted over wall paper and get new carpet too. The walls and angled dormer ceiling were a light butter yellow. I wanted an all white bed so the butter sort of worked with that anyway. When we were married my grandmother and mother made a double wedding ring quilt for us and I picked out white and off white fabrics. I also had so ivory matlesse pillow shams. The bed I coveted for years in a gardening catalog, Gardener's Eden or Smith & Hawkin? I love wrought iron beds and I loved the curves on this one.I also made purple silk curtains.
I have had this dressing table since 1997 when I first moved out on my own into a bungalow in Sellwood with 2 roommates. With one bungalow bathroom to share between us I realized I needed a spot in my room where I could do the majority of my morning routine so that other ladies could get in to shower and brush teeth. I bought an inexpensive desk at Stars Antique Mall, a fresh coat of paint, and new hardware from Restoration Hardware (using my employee discount, of course) I also had a glass top made to so make up spills would be easier to wipe up. Then this dressing table moved to New York and back. It became a bit beat down, but still served its purpose.So the room looked nice enough, if not a bit cramped.
Over time though I felt like we needed a more coordinated look and new bedding so I bought a lavender Hollywood Regency style set at Macy's. I began to fantasize about painting the walls a purpley grey. Grey wool carpet. I longed for a bedroom make over but it wasn't a top priority for Mr. W. Once we decided to sell though we knew we needed to replace the gross green carpet in the two unfinished bedrooms. There was left over, unopened paint from my sister's condo, so we decided to use that grey from her bedroom in ours and the blue from her living room in our office. Here's a first coat of the grey.And with paint complete. I'll admit I was a little worried it might be too dark, and since we have grey skies so often in Portland I question the logic of grey walls, but I am really pleased with how it turned out.Since we were moving we initially planned to use the same grey, nylon carpet we used for my sister. But in the end, Mr W felt it was worth the relatively small upcharge to go with wool. It will be better to market the house with another green product AND in case we end up staying we'll have better quality carpet for ourselves. There aren't a lot of grey carpet options so we went with this one from . Macadam flooring did the installation. We moved most of our furniture back in with the exception of my lingerie cabinet. I'm giving the dressing table a makeover.This view shows how high the ceilings are once you are in the room and all the light provided by the skylight.This dresser we bought at Restoration Hardware. We had been searching high and low trying to findsomething wide enough to fit in this nook to maximize our stotage space. We had given up the search and had resigned ourselves to having something made at The Joinery. Don't get me wrong, we wanted a nice piece of furniture from The Joinery, but is seemed such a shame to spend $4K on something that no one would ever see but him and me. Then we found this black stained dresser at Resto for half the price and we were sold. The
I totally scaled back the items on our dresser to sell.I reused the same curtains. I bought the purple dupioni silk and ribbon trim years ago at Daisy Kingdom before they went out of business. Then I got frustrated sewing them and put off the project for several years. My second attempt was a snap; it's all straight lines! I lined them with flannel to improve drape and to give a bit more thermal insulation over our then single paned windows. (Although now we have nice retro fitted double panes)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls Day

I took the boys out to Mt. Angel today to bring flowers to some our our departed relatives as I have done for the past few years. Today was a gorgeous day for it too! Sunny and dry with lots of crisp, fall leaves for crunching.
I decided to have Mt. Angel be our destination this year since I read in a recent Catholic Sentinel article about the new copper roof for the spire of St. Mary's church. Copper roofs are a little dear to my heart these days since the Mt. Tabor house had a copper roof on the tower before it was blown off during the Columbus Day Storm in 1962. I we are able to buy the house, we have plans to restore the tower to its former glory with a proper roof.
There are two cemeteries in Mt. Angel. The smaller, older one in town is the resting place of my Gr. Grandma S's two older brothers who dies as children. I have learned my lesson from past experiences that you need to go there early in the day before they lock the gate and you find yourself having to hope the chain link fence. I had purchased my usual white carnations and lead the boys to the headstones. Things were going okay, not great as the two of them fought over the flowers, the older wanting to use them as swords and the younger wanting to eat them. Finally My Little Helper ran off to explore and I tried to pry the flowers out of the Baby Boy's mouth when I heard a loud BOOM noise. I looked up wondering what that could have been. Then MLH ran back over near me all smiles and I noticed him run up to a nearby headstone and push it over! I was horrified!!! OMG, what am I going to do with this boy?! Why does God think I am equipt to handle not one, but two sons? I'll be honest, I said some things that shouldn't be said in a cemetery, but I was mortified! I had to run around fastening headstones back together. Fortunately for me they had some little rebar, or metal rods sticking out of the ground that I could fit them back on to, mayhaps my son isn't the first to cause so much destruction? In any event, I decided it was time to wrap it up and move on to a more modern cemetery with flat, non-tipable headstones.
But first I drove into the center of town to take a few photos of the shiny new copper roof. So pretty! I hope we can one day spend way too much money for one.Then we headed back out 99E and stopped at the Calvary cemetery where my Gr. Great grandparents are buried as well as 3 of my gr grandma's brothers who lived well into adulthood. Somehow I couldn't find the uncles and their wives today; there is only so much tramping through wet grass with a squirmy baby and a preschooler prone to mischief I can handle. So I contented myself with offering flowers to the Gr. Gr. grandparents. Then we headed back to Portland so I could go to the dentist. Quite the whirlwind of a day!