Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hallowe'en Decorations and Punkin' Carving

 My Little Helper was so excited to get decorating for Hallowe'en! This has become his favorite holiday, just like his Daddy. I decided to go more secular/traditional with the decorations this year instead of doing Dia de Los Muertos. I feel like there are a lot more spots which can be decorated in this house than in our last house. Here is the mantle.

 I bought a black tablecloth for the dining room this year, I figure we can use a basic black tablecloth for lots of occasions. The orange linen place mat I got on super mark down at WS several years ago. I love my new footed, black glass dish. I bought this when Ms. Mc and I went on our antiquing expedition to Canby. We filled it with small pumpkins we bought at the pumpkin patch and a few spider rings.
 Spiders totally creep me out, how I suffer to make my son happy!
I bought a bale of hay for the front porch. I have been wanting to make a scarecrow as a decoration for a few years now, but never get around to doing it. (Doesn't look good this year either now!) We're going to have the trick-or-treaters come to the original front door so we set up our pumpkins here.
We carved our pumpkins on Monday since we were supposed to go to Ms. Mc's Hallowe'en tea party yesterday, but she wasn't feeling good so she has postponed it. Neither boy really wants to touch the pumpkin innards so Daddy has to do most of the work. (And part of the reason why we only are carving one pumpkin. You have to pull your own pumpkin weight in this household!)
Helping Daddy design the punkin face.
 Pulling the top off
 Using the poking tools on the pumpkin
 First and only reach inside to pull out the innards
 Our LH is please with Daddy's carving skills.
 After the jack o' lantern was complete, OLH carried it out to the porch.
 I lit it up and the boys were very happy with their jack o' lantern.

Friday, October 26, 2012

In search of fireplace tiles

Many of the intact fireplaces I have seen have some mottled 1.5x6 tiles, sometimes called quarter tiles. The ones from L'Esperence were kind of expensive so I thought I'd do a search to see if I could find some less likely to give Mr. W a heart attack.
One of the first  sites that came up was a design blogger. My heart literally sank when I read the caption of the original mottled tiled surround as the "before" photo. She fancies herself as someone who is making an "improvement" to the original.  She picked very modern shaped marble tiles. While marble was used in bathroom applications around this time period, they wouldn't be found on the hearth, not in the shapes she picked.  This type of remuddling makes me sick to my stomach. It's part of the reason why I can't bear to watch remodeling shows on HGTV.
Lost tile "before" photo:

This wasn't the only lost fireplace surround I found in my searching. This one they not only tore out the mantlepiece, but they also painted over the original mottled tiles and iron surround. I don't know why enemies of preservation buy old houses in the first place. Buy new construction for eff sake if you want something modern, bland, and painted bright white!
Lost mantle and painted over tile "before" photo:

Not all my searching turned up horror though. I found a blog and a website in which old home owners are dedicated to returning their homes to their former glory.
This from Ronald Reagan's boyhoodhome is an interesting spin on the mottled tiles.
This layout for the surround features deco tiles in the corners only, which might be a good way to keep down the costs. This is from the 1892 Traphagen House in Deluth, MN
 Detail of that deco tile.

I also found a tile setter in the UK with many fine examples of vintage tile installations.
From what I can gather, Victorian tile configurations around a coal grate were usually sets of 6x6 tiles on the surround or 1.5x6 field tiles on the surround and that often continued onto the hearth. The dimensions of our surround in order to accommodate the new Victorian style gas insert will leave me with a 4" gap around the perimeter, so (8) 4x4 tiles on each leg and (5) 4x4 tiles filling it along the top. Just because I adore picking out tile so much, I'd rather do decorative 4x4 tiles for the surround and then mottled 2x6 field tiles for the hearth, maybe with a border, budget allowing.
I was able to find a cast metal surround that is designed to go with the President insert, but at $798, it is approximate in cost to rough calculations I've made of 4x4 tiles from L'Esperence. I wanted to call them to see if they have a local rep so I can check out their glass samples, but couldn't find a phone number on their website. In a back issue of OHI I found an article featuring Pratt & Larson's "Victorian" glazed tiles. I called to confirm they still carry them and that I could check out samples. The advantage to P&L is that the tiles are locally made which is not only economical (save on shipping costs) but also green in that no fuel is being used to truck them here. A win-win I'd say.
The sales lady gave me a ton of samples here are some of the best ones. I'm hoping to pull out some of the red and cream marbling in the surround.

I think this one might be the best option,  but maybe it is too close to the floor color.

Then since I had so many samples I laid them out in the checkerboard pattern that I have seen on some of the hearths with deco tiles mixed with plain field tiles. I think it is a touch too busy for me.

I think what I want to do is keep with the brick set quarter tiles on the hearth maybe with a border. He is a detail of an old hearth tile installation that I think I would want to reproduce (although I know that will eat up a lot of tile.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fireplace developments

A lot has changed in the word of our fireplace since yesterday's post. A lot has changed just since this morning!
Yesterday I perused all the pretty tiles from those two tile links and began dreaming of tile layouts for the hearth as a future project. Then I decided to search for marbleized slate mantles online so I could get ideas of what the fireplace surround and summer covers would have typically looked like.
A few were at salvage yards. This one is missing it's summer cover. It is at a salvage yard in Columbus.

 Here are a couple with original tile and the metal coal grates or surrounds. Both at a salvage yard in Chicago.

Another one missing it's summer cover. It is nearly as simple as ours. This one is from Pennsylvania.

This one is a home that is on the market in Maryland. Very good looking, although the newer granite hearth is a little disappointing.

My favorite was this one from the Tippecanoe Co. Courthouse.  I was especially excited to see the tiled hearth. It is just like the tile options I saw from OHI. At least I knew I'd be headed in the right direction for a future tile layout.

But all that changed after this morning's walk through with the brick mason. Mr. W happened to be home so he got to listen in. The mason discouraged us from doing a gas log set up because we would have to have the damper constantly open to allow for ventilation for the pilot light. Long story short we pulled up the specs to the Victorian style gas insert we liked from the very beginning to look at the specifications. The mason instead recommended that we demo and remove the firebox and within the chimney cavity we would then have adequate space to accommodate the insert's engine and ducting.
The only unknown was would there be some unforeseen something inside the chimney that would prevent us from using the insert and would instead force us to rebuild the firebox and keep with a traditional wood burning fireplace. The prospect is very disappointing now that we have our hearts set on the easy of gas!  We all decided that I would try to locate a local distributor and find out if there was any way to do a return should the worst case unforeseen happen.
The insert I think that would work best for us is the President, it is the simplest which I think is best to prevent taking away attention from the mantlepiece. And I was able to find a couple of local dealers and the one in Irvington even had a model on the showroom floor! I got pricing over the phone from both. It turns out that the President and Senator do not have the same metal panel around them like the arched  one. I guess I thought i would have a little more wiggle room to cover the gaps. Nope. The unit is a lot smaller than I thought and it turns out we will end up with a 4" gap on the top and both sides. You know what that means, right?  A tiled surround!!!
I really shouldn't get so excited, poor Mr. W this fireplace project is getting out of control. He and OLH left for a mini vacation today so I broke the news to him via email. Not only my suggestion of replacing the hearth now, but also the necessity of creating and tiling a surround. Since the mason today suggested the gas insert , it just didn't seem prudent to me to delay replacing the hearth  becasue we would then have to uninstall the insert then to demo the existing hearth and lay a new one. Which would also risk damaging a new tiled surround.
Now my dreams of tile layouts need to be much more serious.
Dear God, please let this cycle be successful so we can stop paying for infertility treatments.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fireplaces and furnaces

Last week in addition to the 3 doctors appointment I had, I also had multiple walk thrus with contractors to provide estimates for the furnace conversion (oil to natural gas) and exterior siding/millwork repairs and paint. We have narrowed down our appliances and are almost ready to pull the trigger on this. Good thing too, because the temperatures are dropping.
The old furnace we have been told is probably the original coal burning fireplace which was converted to oil at some point. We received our first estimate in May. The consensus is that we will need two few furnaces to replace it based upon our heat load. We are hoping to maximize our tax credits by getting the most efficient furnace. I originally tried doing Energy Trust of Oregon, but that is in part sponsored by the gas industry so switching from oil doesn't apply. I was instead referred to Clean Energy Works Oregon. We would need to have at least a 95% efficient furnace so that is what we are looking to achieve. The natural gas company will not charge for the connection to the main line if you convert both a furnace and a water heater. We also want to run a gas line to the dryer (we brought our energy star appliances from our bungalow), to the stove (Mr. W hates cooking on electric), and to the fireplace. I still have a lot of work on nailing down the incentives, credits and rebates, but I think we are pretty much ready to go once we recieve our second HVAC bid.
One thing that needs to be completed first is repairing the firebox before we have a gas log setup installed.  Being a 120 yr old house one can imagine that the masonry is in pretty rough shape. The mantle is very nice though, I am pretty sure it is marbleized slate. The veining is not on any of the edges or the underside of the shelf. From what I can find marbleized slate was a popular fauxing treatment in the late 1800s. It also has some nice incizing across the top and flanking sides.
The interior is not so great though. The deteriorating masonry of the firebox was among many issues that came up on our home inspection. 
There is an old log basket, I have no idea if it would be original or not, but it is nice enough looking that I want to see if the gas log supplier can incorporate this into the set up rather than using something new. (Also not sure why there appears to be two stacked on top of each other.)

 I also think that this row of tiles was added at some point since it is only at the top and not the sides; I would think it would have been more balanced if they were original. If possible I would like to have this removed. I have been researching salvaged firescreens and summer covers on line and during our vacation to DC earlier this year, and the dimensions of those heights seem more in keeping with that of the marble, not this row of tiles.
  Here are a couple salvage pieces at an online salvage shop in Chicago. I would hope to find something closer to home that matches my dimensions. I can't image how much shipping would cost. Getting this is a long term goal, as is replacing the tile o the hearth.  Our budget can only handle so much right now. (Shakes fist at infertility!)
 Lastly the hearth seems to have been replaced with modern 4x4 tiles at some point. But my guess is it was a DIY job and they didn't prep the substrate properly because there is a giant settling crack in the center of the hearth.

The winter issue of Old House interiors coincidentally has an article of fireplaces. (Well maybe not so coincidentally since lots of people are probably thinking about warming by the fire this time of year.) Anyway they had several sources for Victorian style tiles: L'Esperance and Derby. I can already tell I'm going to have too much fun with this (not to mention disappointment that there is only one fireplace in the house!)

Friday, October 19, 2012

First IUI

Well, that was a piece of cake! It didn't hurt at all. I had read many people experiences and was prepared for cramping and other types of discomfort, but I didn't experience any of that. Mr. W was so surprised by how quickly the whole procedure was and that there was no fancy equipment.  I brought him with me since I was feeling guilty for doing the IUI so I at least wanted him to be in the same room as me if we actually concieve. He's such a corn ball though it might have been better to leave him at home.  He started doing a cheer leading type routine for the X chromosome swimmers since we are hoping for a daughter. Goofball!
He went in earlier in the morning to give his sample. His numbers were good, 61 million and 76% motility.  At least one of use is issue free!
I start crinone on Sunday. The NP who did the procedure (I've seen her way more than my RE this cycle) said there was no real difference between the crinone and the progesterone capsules from the compounding clinic so I'm going to switch back to them once my supply of crinone runs out.  It is way too expensive and has too much waste product.
My beta is Nov 2. I am thinking about POAS on Nov 1. Fingers crossed. There may be many house related posts in the next two weeks to help distract me while time passes!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Good news today!

What a difference a day makes! I was able to go alone to today's monitoring appointment because Mr. W and I were meeting an HVAC contractor this morning so he stayed home longer to watch Baby Boy. The nurse asked where he was since he is almost always with me. She also told me that my outfit was lovely.
I saw the Nurse Practitioner today not my RE. My lining is still at 10.5mm with the triple line. On my right I have a 19mm follicle! I couldn't help but say, "Thank you, Jesus!" The largest of the small ones on that side is 9mm.
On my left the largest she found was a 14mm.  They were all clustered together on the left and I asked her if there was anyway I could move so that she could see what was going on better. So she had the nurse put pressure on my abdomen and up popped a 18mm follicle!  She said that maybe my RE couldn't see that one yesterday, and I agree. Yesterday the left side was just as messy looking. But why wouldn't he think to put pressure on me to try to get a better look?  I'm sure that it was there yesterday, the 14mm from Sunday, but the view was obstructed. All that fretting that they were shrinking for nothing.
So a 19mm, a 18mm, and 14 and under ones.  I am feeling much more confident now going into the IUI! I trigger tonight between 8-10 pm and then the IUI will be at 10:45 on Friday.
This will put the beta test at the day before my birthday. This birthday will either be really awesome or totally suck. Fingers crossed it will be the former.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nothing grew

On Sunday I had a 15mm follicle on the right, and a 14mm & 10mm on the left. Today I still have a 15 mm on the right and on the left only a 10mm & a 9mm. I'm so sad, frustrated, and confused.
When I spoke with the nurse at my CD3 apt. I expressed my concerns that he is triggering me too early (at 16-17mms all=BFN). Today was my first chance to speak with him about it. He said that the 18-24mm window is only for IVF. On the East Coast they use that same guideline for IUI, but on the West Coast they do IUIs at 15mm and up. I've never heard such a thing in all my time on the internet. I frankly feel like he is trying to feed me a load of BS.
My E2 is 648, and my LH is 2.07, which makes sense since I got a negative OPK. My CM is going the other way though, the previous two days were great and today's is tacky. It is not looking good to me. Based upon my blood work numbers I have one more night of 75iu follistim, then another ultrasound and blood draw tomorrow (read: more money out the window) then will likely trigger tomorrow, IUI probably Friday. Please cross your fingers that we see some progress tomorrow.
I also asked a lot of my IVF/PGD questions. I'm not feeling too hopeful. :(

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Monitoring appointment

Today is CD8. My lining is 10mm. On my right I had a 15mm with some little ones and on my left I had a 10, 14, and 8 mm follicles. Two more nights of injectibles, another monitoring apt on Tuesday and probably will have the IUI on Thursday or Friday. So things are looking pretty good, it looks like we'll have two follicles to work with.
I have been feeling very tired recently which I think must be a side effect from the follisitim, I have been going to bed early most nights.  But I'd rather have more sleeping as a side effect rather than the insomnia from clomid!
Today after Mass we're heading out the Fruit Loop to go apple picking. We're hoping the weather will stay clear-ish for us!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Accesorizing the crafting table

 Now that my little work table has been painted and placed in the bay window of my closet it is time to start unpacking into it and getting things set up so I can catch up with sewing projects and photo albums. I want a tray that I can keep desk thing on and then easily remove them when I need to set up my sewing machine. I wanted something with purple faux croc. At first I thought I would recover a tray I already have, but I couldn't find any purple croc paper online.
I was able to find a few ready made trays. This first one I saw on the P1 website so I went in to buy it. It isn't exactly the right shade of purple, but I do like that the large size would allow me to keep a stack of papers that need to be filed and remove it all from the desk when needed.  I also found this little chrome based, drum shade lamp on sale for $29! Perfect for what I was looking to do!
So here is the P1 tray:

And here is a tray I found at ZG while shopping with Ms. Mc. I prefer this shade of purple, and I think the round shape is a nice contrast to the rectangular shape of the desk. But now I like the idea of having a spot to keep papers.

Using the lampsade in the antique shop as inspiration, I realized I had a couple of little broach type things. When I was in grade school, I think, my grandma or someone else gave me these little metal pieces. The one on the right was from a pair of shoes, the black in the middle is a piece of the suede from the shoes. I can't remember what the other piece was from. Yes, I never throw anything away. I had two of each of these and have been hanging on to them all these years! I used one of each a few years ago when Ms. Mc had her Wine & Witches party and we all decorated witch hats. You never know when something could be reused!
 Here they both are against the lamp shade.
 I really wanted to get a pretty velvet ribbon to mount them, but they didn't have any at Joann's. I thought 2" wide ribbon would be too thick, so I went with the 1 1/2". Now I just need to decide which I like better. And if I like the one on the right better, do I want to keep the black part or remove it so you just see the purple of the ribbon?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cycle #15

I haven't been posting much about my infertility struggles. Last cycle ended up being a bust. The day of my mom's surprise party I had to get up at the crack of dawn to go in for a monitoring appointment and when they called me with my blood work results later that day I was running around picking up the rental items. I was instructed to trigger that night between 8-10 pm. I actually didn't get home to trigger until after 1 AM because of the party and driving my sister and mom home.
We had a lot of sex, but during my 2 week wait my temps were for shit.  I bought a new box of HPTs and then like an idiot took one of them that day, at like 10 days past trigger and got a BFN. A couple days later I got the same result so I quit taking the crinone (which I discovered costs a fortune!)  With the crinone out of my system my period arrived right away with spotting on Saturday. My beta was scheduled for Monday but I instead converted it to a CD2 monitoring appointment.
Today is CD3, and I have started another round of follistim. At my monitoring apt yesterday I discussed how disgruntled I am. I feel like he is being too conservative because I said I would not reduce. He keeps triggering me too early, in my opinion, before the follies are in the mature range of 18-24mm. Of course my dr wasn't in the office again so I had to have this whole conversation with a Nurse Practicioner, but I told her that frankly, I don't think it is his prerogative to trigger me early because I don't want to reduce. It is up to my OB, etc to make that determination if I ever do get pregnant. Anyway, I am going to do an IUI this cycle, I'm feeling desperate and need to change something instead of just throwing money away. Maybe I am too old to think I can do this on my own. I am going to have to make my peace with not doing this the 'right' wy in the eyes of the church.
My next apt is Sunday. I don't want to trigger if I don't have a follicle at 18mm minimum.
If this doesn't work we'll do one more IUI and then we'll have to reevaluate. Maybe save until next summer for IVF. Or see if DH will reconsider adoption. If this fails, I will potentially have my next CD3 apt on my 37th birthday so I am in full on freak out mode.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Feast of St. Francis

I postponed the Feast of St. Francis Day this year because Mr. W had to work late, but then he had to work late the next night too, so we went ahead without him. I used some of the things from Michaelmas to set the table, but added a St. Francis statue and brought out our St. Francis of Assisi book by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
 Because St' Francis was known for being kind to animals we have a vegetarian meal. I have been using the Orange Carrot soup from the W&S Soup cookbook. It has ginger in it too. The color seems very appropriate for this time of year. My Little Helper got to decorate the bowls of soup with the clementine slices.; his intention was smiley faces.
We talked a little bit about St. Francis and how he was kind to animals. I sang the Prayer of St. Francis song. MLH has been learning about him in Pre-K too.  They made little crowns with different animals pasted to it. They also made a list of all their pets for St. Francis to take care of and made a big sign. I was trying to find my cat, Mortimer's, name listed. The closest I could find was "Kitty Member." For a child that is usually so articulate, he always mumbles Mortimer's name. So clearly "Member" was as close as his teacher could get!
This is a special Name Day in our house. Afterward we read about St. Francis and the wolf, which is a favorite.

A crafting table makeover and an adventure

Our master suite has a dressing room which has a shaft of bookshelves and a small closet with in it smack in the middle of the room. I'm not sure why previous owners would have chosen that placement since it blocks a view of downtown, but in any event it is what we have to work with for now. I decided to use the section closet to the bay window as a crafting/sewing work area. Shortly after we moved in I began trolling craigslist on the hunt for inexpensive furniture I could make over to fill in some of the holes in our rooms. I found a small mid century, stained maple, colonial revival style desk which they were asking $90.  Except I read the add wrong, they had 60 in the title because that was the decade he assumed it was. Anyway, by then I had already made a commitment to come out and thought $90 was still reasonable.
It's in good shape and I liked all the curvy lines.
 I began by sanding it down.
then I primed it and painted it black to blend with the ebony stained RH dressers we have in the closet.
I was planning on reusing the colonial revival hardware, but in an attempt to straighten up, Mr. W lost them in the garage.  I have been trying to relocate them for a couple months now to no avail. I'm about to go pick up some inexpensive silver tone replacements.
I have been searching for an oval backed, tufted side chair I can paint black and have reupholstered in a lavender velvet. Not much luck in the department yet. Every thing I find is either too nice to paint, too expensive, or a pair that I would feel guilty about breaking up.
Last week Ms. Mc invied me to share a sitter with her and drive out to Camas, WA to go antiquing. She had been there with Mr. B a few days earlier and had spied some cute Hallowe'en things thru the window. She is gearing up for her annual Hallowe'en party which this year will be a tea! I was happy to join her. She found some cute amber carnival glass tea cups and saucers and we each got a few black glass pieces. One vendor had the cutest embellished lampshade in their booth. I've been looking online for purple lampshades for the work table. I think I might do this instead with a drum shade.
Camas has a really cute main street with lots of great neon signage. I enjoyed this diner sign.
It was closed, but we think we need to return with the children, there is a great little counter inside where I know little boys would love to sit.
The movie theatre has some nice neon too.
Once we got back in the car I recognized a man who was walking out of the antique store.  I had seen him two weeks before when Mr. W and I were at the Monticello Antique Mall. He is memorable because he looks like a carnival strong man.
I'm not exaggerating. He was antiquing in a muscle tank. totally tight shorts, a gigantic belt buckle, he has broad shoulders and an itty bitty waist. He has perfectly coiffed dark hair with sideburns and a handle bar mustache. When Mr. W and I saw him the first time I mentioned that I would love to see where he lives.  I imagined that his interiors must be just as fun and unique as he is.
This time he had a regular, but super tight polo shirt with an I heart Jesus belt. I had to call Mr. W right away and he began to badger me into taking a photo of the man. I wouldn't do something so rude. Ms. Mc got all excited once she got in the car and decided she would follow him to take a picture. Fortunately he had already gotten into his shiny red pick up so she couldn't have taken his picture. But by that point she was feeling so adventurous that she decided to follow him in his car! I was mortified! Camas reeks, by the way, because of the paper mill, so the less time we spent in Camas the better. The town is very cute, cute old bungalows, beautiful vistas, but so darn stinky!
At one point I thought for sure we lost him so I was a little relieved. Until she spotted him up ahead. We eventually saw him pull into his driveway. His house was a totally nondescript, 70s snout house. I was a little disappointed, I was hoping he was driving home to something unique and awesome. Then Ms. Mc circled around and drove back past his house trying to talk me into taking a picture of him in his driveway. I could not be convinced.  I hope his interiors are exciting. But I have assure Mr. W and Ms. Mc that we are NOT going back there to peer in through the windows!