Thursday, January 26, 2012

Backyard Bird Habitat Certified!

At some point in December, between birthday parties, holiday functions, and getting ready for out of town guests, I received my Silver Backyard Bird Habitat certification! I had my uncle finish up the last of the planting of the native shrubs I needed to get the secondary layer of the canopy. I purchased those through the fall native plant sale. She calculated all my native planting square footage vs the lot size and I am meet their criteria. The only thing I have outstanding is to have habitat for another species of native animal, so the coordinator recommended I get a mason bee hive. They sell those, bees included, at the Backyard Bird Shop, so I'll head out there one day when I need to get the children out of the house for a showing.
Here I am the day I received my certification and my shiny new sign!With the new barkdust freshly spread, here are some more photos of the backyard and the shed. I've worked so hard back here, I'm a little sad to leave it now!Oregon Grape, our state flower, in the foreground and sword, deer, and lady fern in the bed. In the far corner is a newly planted Mock Orange, one of the secondary canopy plants and another salal.A view of our Douglas fir, our state tree, and the neighbor's laurel, the only remaining laurel in the yard. It sure was private back here when all three sides were hedged in laurel, but it was sucking nutrients from the ground and took up too much space for such a modest sized lot. A sad 'purple splendor' rhododendron in the foreground with another Oregon Grape. Our dueling compost bins are tucked behind the shed so they aren't visible from the deck.Between the Oregon Grape and rhody is a new salal plant that is a spreading ground cover, but will be more like a low shrub. Beneath the deck I have some more sword fern and in the spring native bleeding heart will bloom.
On the far left is an evergreen huckleberry and on the far right is a very happy and established snowberry.Along the rear property line are 3 red flowering currant which will grow into a bit of a thicket to provide privacy. It is supposed to be a very ornamental bloomer. I'm a bit sad I may never see it! When I got them they were just little nubby twigs.A close up view of the finished shed (although I still have to install the door hardware.) I ordered the window box last summer after Mr. W gave me the impression we would never be able to afford the Mt. Tabor house and I resolved to make the backyard a haven for us to enjoy this coming summer. I filled it with some cheery spring pansies since we are on the market.
This is also my test run of exterior paint colors for the house. If we were staying, I didn't think we could go another year without painting. The trim is Benj Moore. #2153-60 Rich Cream and the accent color is #2069-10 Deep Mulberry. I rushed last week to put the last bit of paint around the trim on the shed door before we went on the market.
I had even bought a strand of solar lights to string along the gable and a wind chime. Now I'll have to take those with us and find a spot for them in our new home.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Burying St. Joseph

Since we have had a break in the weather today, I had a chance to get out and wrap a few loose ends in the yard. I planted the pansies I bought two weeks ago before it snowed. I wanted to fill the window box on the potting shed and put a couple on the front porch for a cheery greeting. I put a final coat of paint on the trim around the window in the potting shed door too.
Then I dug a little hole in the ground in the newly bark dusted backyard. There is a somewhat questionable practice of burying a statue of St. Joseph in one's yard while one is selling one's house the hopes hopes that he will intercede on your behalf. It seems a little superstitious and potentially sacrilegious, but I am willing to try anything that may positively impact the sale of the Laburnum Bungalow. Our Realtors, one of which was raised Catholic although they are New Agey now, have never had clients bury a St. Joseph before, but were eager to have us do it to see if it has an influence.
They sell St. Joseph home sale kits online, but I went to The Grotto on Sunday after Mass and picked on up in the gift shop. I bought the more expensive of the two options which was $15 for a painted resin statue. The shop clerk told me they had been out of stock for a long time on these, and they sell quickly. Hopefully that is a good sign.
The instructions recommend placing the statue upside down (with the feet pointed toward heaven) with either St. Joseph facing the house or towards the new home. The placement in the yard varies also. I opted with burying him in the backyard facing east towards the Mt. Tabor house. My Little Helper took a break from watching the Wild Kratts to come out to help me; the boy rarely misses an opportunity to use a shovel. He did a good job in helping me place St. Joseph and then covering him back up with dirt. He was not as interested in saying a prayer, but he did a fairly good job of making the the sign of the cross.
The kit states that European nuns used to bury St. Joseph medals in land which they hoped to purchase on which they would build convents and eventually the practice evolved into selling homes. "The reasons behind using this particular saint are Joseph's strong connections with families, homes, and moving." After a successful sale one should dig St. Joseph back up and put him in a place of honor in the new home. I have heard that some people leave the St. Joseph as a way of having him protect the home. I may do that as I have my own St. Joseph statue safely packed away in a box somewhere. Will we be lucky enough to sell and close in time to celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph in our new home? Let's hope so!

Day 3 on the market

As the kids would say, I'm a hot mess. I am so stressed out about being on the market. I went to bed with a headache, I woke up with a head ache, my face is totally broken out. Yesterday was our Dealer's Open, and apparently we had a really good turn out. Our Realtor told us she can't remember the last time they had such a good response. And, from what she told us everyone really liked what we have done with the house and everyone kept saying it was gorgeous. That makes me feel good.
I have to admit that having my house on the market is kind of like having your child in the school spelling bee or first piano recital, I'm so worried how well she will do and if people will appreciate her 'talent'.
Although I still worry that I didn't get everything as perfectly staged as I would have liked. It was hard with the boys jumping on the bed immediately after I made it and tossing everything out of the garbage can. I ended up putting Baby Boy in the crib just to keep him from destroying things, which of course made him scream like crazy. I ended up leaving a giant pile of dinosaurs because I couldn't get to them before we had to leave the house for My Little Helper's dentist appointment; I hoped our Realtors could figure out something to do with them for the Open. I frantically packed up the car with stuff and the boys and headed out only to get half way to the dentist before I realized I'd forgotten my wallet, which I would need to by lunch for the boys since I had no idea how long I'd have to stay away from the house.
In our listing I have requested 1 hr notice. I did this because I want to be as flexible as possible; I anticipate lots of nap times spent driving around in the car. What I didn't realize was that Realtors would take me at my word. I had two of them call to schedule viewings exactly one hour in advance. I guess I expected that to be the exception to the norm, rather than all the notice I would get. I will stick it out a few more days like this and see how bad it gets, but I may have to change it to 2-4 hrs notice, otherwise the boys and I may become a cranky mess soon. As it was the morning nap was spent driving out to Banks with a drive through Krispy Kreme on the the return. But as I headed home we received another call so I took the boys to my mom's and spent the rest of the day there until we met Mr. W in NW for dinner to wait out our final showing of the day.
Today the baby woke up with a stomach virus and barfed on me after I nursed him. No doubt he picked up something on his first day of daycare, so now delayed guilt has set in. I drove through his morning nap today even though we have had no viewing scheduled for today, but we do have one first thing tomorrow morning. Hopefully one of these early showings will yield our buyer. Fingers crossed!

Monday, January 23, 2012

We're on the market!

I am so nervous I could barf! We have been cleaning and fixing and staging and prepping these past few days and I think we have everything ready. Or almost ready. As ready as we are going to be for the Realtor's Open tomorrow. I am freaking out though! How on earth am I going to be able to keep the house in a constant state of clean with two little boys running around, literally pulling everything off the shelves behind me as I put them away?
Today was our Snack Day at preschool, but I let Mr. W double book me, scheduling the bark dust blow in at the same time. Today was also the first day of putting Baby Boy in a daycare. If I wasn't so crazy busy I would have felt more guilty about leaving him there at 13 mo old. So, after dropping off the baby, then starting off at Snack Day, I had to run home to meet the bark dusters. They had already blown in most of the back yard. There was also a man there digging the post hole for the yard sign, so much activity happening at the bungalow! After preschool I made a last trip to Hippo Hardware to get some inexpensive, not sentimental, vintage glass shades for the upstairs bathroom.
By the time I returned home the sign post had been installed and the front bed was looking sharp and tidy with it's new coat of bark dust. I parked the car and felt like I was going to have a heart attack! Seeing the sign post seemed so final. This is really happening! The rest of the yard looks so clean and tidy now. I hope all our efforts pay off and that potential home buyers like what they see.
Later in the afternoon, after I had both the boys back home with me, our Realtors came over for a walk through and to hang the sign. I think Mr. W and I have checked off every item from that list but one, and I may be pulling an all-nighter doing laundry and mopping the floors again. So nerve wracking! But kind of exciting too.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

We have a signed contract...again!

Well, Mr. W was hoping to have a signed contract to buy the Mt. Tabor house for my birthday (early Nov) and instead we got it on his sister's birthday (mid Jan)! Finally! No more negotiating, no more waiting for warring Boomers to get their s* together and respond to our offers. No more waiting for them to decide to whether or not they will fix the issues that came up during our inspection the day before Thanksgiving. We settled on a lower price, which accounts for us buying the house as is. This means that the sewer repair, minor roof leaks, and underground oil tank will be resolved by us after we have possession.
But, we are still waiting to exhale. We still have to sell the Laburnum Bungalow, which goes on the market Monday, and close on it by the end of April per the terms of this contract. So, it could still all fall apart. So, we are crossing our fingers that we have gotten our house in the best condition possible. There is a flurry of activity going on here this week between us and hired workers to wrap up all the loose ends. And that has only been compounded by the snow fall we have had this week! We hope that whomever our buyers are, they will be free from drama, because frankly, I don't know if I can handle anymore! We still have to worry about both our sellers showing up at the closing of the Mt. Tabor house so we can occupy it!
In any event, here are some photos of the exterior. I took these in November when we were still in that innocent, naive, inspection period, before we had to revoke our offer and became jaded. This is a closer view of the front elevation. There are a lot of steps to get to the front door. This may be why the side door is now the main entrance and the legal address. There is a balcony above the porch which is accessed through the hallway window or the window in what will be the play room. This balcony provides a view to downtown and we're hoping will be our fireworks display vantage point.
The tower side has the Povey windows in the bays. We have heard that the original roof to the tower was blown off during the Columbus Day Storm of '62. Our long term plan is to restore the peaked, copper roof there and the cresting on the entire roof.The side elevation includes the oval porch on the 3rd floor, something we have been calling G-ma's smoking porch. It is accessed through the unfinished attic and is very shallow. It is screened though to prevent birds from roosting. There is another balcony above the side porch; this one is accessed through the window in what will be the boys bedroom. The upper bay window is in the guest room, until we have another baby. The lower bay window is in the living room.
The truth is I am very excited although I am trying really hard not to be just in case something goes wrong again. I'm a little afraid I am jinxing it just by making this blog entry. Don't worry, Universe, I'm not getting cocky! I know it isn't ours yet. But it does feel good to hope, and we are making progress in the right direction.
Hopefully by this time next year all this stress will be a distant memory, and we'll be enjoying a fresh, full year in our new Home!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tonga Room

I find The Bachelor to be a despicable show, but it happened to be on when I walked into the tv room last night and they were talking about this landmark restaurant that was the setting of one of the group dates. It looked very tiki. I've mentioned before that I've had tiki fever ever since The General's birthday party. So, I Tivo'd back a few minutes to see where the were and it was the Tonga Room in San Francisco.
I looked it up online and it is part of the Fairmont Hotels. It seems somewhat familiar, like maybe Ms H-G has told me about it before. There is a rain feature in the middle of the bar. Anyway I am putting this in my mental rolodex for the next time we are in San Francisco. I guess occasionally good things can come from The Bachelor.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

In search of a Chesterfield style sofa

I hate our futon. I find it extremely uncomfortable to sit on because the cushion constantly slides down and pushes out the seat depth. But when Mr. W bought his first television after we began dating , the futon seemed like the best idea to him because it was collapsable enough to get it upstairs, where the tv room was then located, and it could double as a guest bed. I never liked it though, and have cursed it these past nine years.
Recently though Mr. W has come to share my animosity for the futon. While we both acknowledge that we'll be extremely broke after we buy a house, he and I have both been thinking about how we could squeeze a new sofa into the budget. And while it may or not be wise, we both would prefer leather. I feel it is easier to keep clean. He thinks it is more comfortable and durable.
I have never bought a sofa for myself, but if I had it would have had a camel back with rolled arms. And upholstered in corduroy. Ah, I love corduroy!!! I did eventually develop an appreciation for the Chesterfield style sofa. The tufted back, the warm toned leather, the nail head trim. Delightful! And if it could also have a camel back I'd be over the moon!
So I am spending this rainy Saturday evening browsing online for potential sofas.
EA has a couple in leather, but I think the Chadwick at 86" l would be a better fit in the family room of the Mt. Tabor house.
This Whitaker is a bit more traditional Chesterfield due to the straight back.
PB calls theirs the Chesterfield, but at 96"l I worry it might be too large for the room considering I think we need to have it double as a casual family dining room. But if we end up with 3 teenage boys, I can see that all those ninety six inches would come in handy.
RH appears to only have an upholstered version,the Kensington, which won't work for our purposes, but I do enjoy the tufting on the apron.There are few furniture brands that Parker Furniture carries. The Kent is 89" l overall. I also like the Olivier as a more feminine version. And forgive me for getting distracted, but I would love to eventually have something like the Boudoir Loveseat in our bedroom. Swoon! This would be a l o n g time in the future before we could afford furniture up there though!
T-ville has and interpretation called the Rendezvous which looks extremely comfortable. They have another tufted back sofa called the Ella, which while I like how fun it is, I know I could never talk Mr. W into it.WSH has a Chesterfield sofa, but the leather version is over $6,000...I don't know why everything in that store is so overpriced.
MG has 3 different length options for their Chester.When I ran out of ideas of furniture stores in the vicinity, I did a general online search. The cheapest leather chesterfield I found was $999, but only available in blue leather. I showed it to Mr. W who responded, "No, that is nasty. We are only buying a good sofa."
Hahaha! I love him so much!
This is a good looking version; I like the fully tufted look, but I do worry that a tufted seat is going to be filled with so much gunk from little boys. Plus, I really would not feel comfortable ordering something substantial, like a sofa, online with out being able to test it out in person.
And at any rate, we still don't have a contract to buy as of this afternoon, so we aren't in the position to make a purchase. It is fun to plan though!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Feast of the Epiphany

To celebrate Epiphany we make borscht; I love beets, they are in season, and I love soup. I made the same recipe I have in the past. With the sour cream and dill garnish it looks so festive. Since we still haven't fixed the dining room light yet, and I'm trying to cut back on unnecessary laundry before we put the house on the market, I set the table in the kitchen. I used the Magi from the children's nativity set and spread left over St. Nicholas Day gold coins. This may not have been the best idea to have chocolate visible before the soup was consumed! I also burned frankincense and myrrh incense. I love the smell , although this brand is very smokey. I decide to try out a new recipe this year. I needed to find something that did not call for powdered milk, I found this Rosca de Reyes recipe, saw that it called for rum and figured I'd found a winner. Surprisingly I was able to locate the anise extract at Freddy's. I think I have finally figured out yeast, that is to say I have finally learned that I must measure the temperature so I don't kill the yeast. I still haven't gone out to get a muneca, or baby Jesus doll, to go inside the cake. One day!
We topped it with a little bit of icing and halved cherries. My Little Helper was very serious and meticulous with this task. I also bought some candied ginger becasue I thought it would make nice jewels for our crown; however, the anise is strong enough that ginger was not a good combination with it. This is not to say that the anise was overwhelming, but I don't care for the flavor if black licorice and really don't care for it with ginger. I think I'd only use 1 TBSP of the anise extract next time. It did look like a pretty crown though!Now I'll confess that between baking a dessert bread, making a stew, and dealing with two destructive children underfoot I was at the end of my rope by the time Mr. W returned home. As a reward for all my hard work he decided to invent a drink for me. He called it the Epiphany, you know so you could say, "I had an Epiphany!" He used Goldschlagger and Hot Damn! It was too strong for me, but I appreciated the thought. He thinks net time he'd cut out the Hot Damn! so there is only one cinnamon flavor. But how cute is he to make a drink with gold flecks in it?!After dinner Our Little Helper got to open his last Christmas gift (we didn't get one for the baby since he doesn't know what is going on.) It was the Robot Pterodactyl that he had been missing. As you can see he was VERY happy!I read from the book of Matthew, somewhat successfully. It is hard to compete with Robot Dinosaurs, but the baby was paying attention to me. We did not chalk the door this year because we are moving...I hope that we will not be the opposite of blessed because of it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

VooDoo donuts

I love having Ms H-G in Portland because she loves to eat and I'm able to take gastronomical tours of my city. During this visit she wanted to take Mr. H-G to the Grilled Cheese Grill because he'd missed it on her last visit and he'd also missed having Spanish coffees at Huber's after my father's funeral. We were able to check both those off his list this time. A new stop for both of them was VooDoo Doughnuts.
Full disclaimer: I find VooDoo donuts highly overrated. I've only once waited in that long ass line in Old Town. Sure, once upon a time there was the novelty of donuts with OTC drugs sprinkled on top, but once the FDA put a stop to that I just don't see what the allure is. Don't get me wrong, they aren't bad donuts, but they are just donuts. Nothing to cross the river over!
Fortunately there is an East side location now, a pink painted, former Arctic Circle with a parking lot. Much more practical for acquiring donuts with children. So I took the H-Gs to the slightly less novel VooDoo East for breakfast on their last day. They are so funny, they spent so much time agonizing over what would be the perfect donuts to select.
I'm a creature of habit so I ordered a maple bar. I also tried out the blueberry cake donut. Yummy!I got My Little Helper a mini M&M covered one fore breakfast because I'm a good mom.
Ms H approves of Voo Doo.I didn't realize it until just now, but Mr. G looks just like the guy in that picture behind him.

Highly offensive neon

If you are looking for neon signage, mid century architecture, and ethnic restaurants then the Eighty Deuce is the place for you! Of course 82nd Ave. is totally sketchy and a good place to see prostitution in action, but you will also find an interesting mix of 1920's storybook style cottages and bungalows built before the road was widened and a major thoroughfare as well as mid-century infill like motels, supermarkets, and 'suburban' restaurants. And it is rife with neon!
The most offensive of all is the Canton Grill. There are many American style Chinese restaurants along this street and many modern Asian grocery stores and businesses. Somehow this 'Chinaman' has survived our PC world.I have long wanted to try this restaurant, if for nothing else an opportunity to photograph the sign before someone comes to their senses and takes it down. But Mr. W is scared of most things on the Eighty Deuce, so I've never been. It wasn't until the H-Gs came for Christmas that I had the opportunity and dining companions. We took the boys for a mid week lunch.
There is another non illuminated sign snugged between the restaurant and the minimart next door.I didn't decide I liked Chinese food until my 30s, so I'm no expert on it, but Mr. & Ms. H-G thought it was really good. They were a bit surprised that Mr. W never is willing to try it as they believe that even American Chinese food has its place. The interior was an awesome time warp of a business with a long and popular history. The walls were covered in 1950s black and white photographs of some pretty fun looking parties with the ladies all in Cantonese style dresses. And the prices were very, very reasonable. I'd definitely eat here again if I can talk Mr. W into it.