30 September, 2009

Left Foot...Right Foot...

We have our first official walk-through today. At first I thought that meant the house was DONE. Then Scott said the girl in the office (her name is Jackie, but I can't remember what her real title is) said that the electric box isn't scheduled to be installed until Monday.

So...still no power? Hopefully they're running on schedule with that!

I believe that means everything else is done. Honestly, last week it just looked like carpet and appliances needed to go in and they needed to clean all their construction junk out of my sinks and bathtub. Scott thinks I'm being overly optimistic.

So if we're not checking to make sure the lights and outlets work, I guess we're checking for cosmetic things - like that they removed the unwanted glass door on our bathtub, and they replaced our wrong dishwasher with the correct one - and then there's going to be another walk-through early next week to check out the electric, etc.

It's starting to feel very real! *gulp*

21 September, 2009


Scott and I passed a car yesterday that had a memorial on the back that was at least 20 words long. It inspired me to make my own:

I know the text is small. It says:

"In Loving Memory"
(of my imaginary friend)
Rufus Lastname
Died reading the memorial on the back of someone else's car
Ironic, isn't it?

20 September, 2009

What I Didn't Buy This Week

Do you know what you're looking at? This is possibly the sexiest faucet in the history of mankind. And knowing the look we're going for in our master bathroom, can you imagine anything cooler (short of having a more colorful counter and vessel sinks)?

I was so excited to find this one and its differently-shaped friends that I almost bought them before we had a house to put them in. Then I started reading the buyer comments. Aside from being troublesome to install and not having the drain plug assembly (meaning we'd have to get plugs that sit on the side of the sink when not in use), they have water pressure issues and if you have hard water, there will be build-up and water spots between the two pieces of glass where the water comes from. And the opening is so small you can't even get a Q-Tip in there to clean it.

I know me well enough to know that I need home fixtures that are low maintenance. So for now, I'll have to settle for something much less expensive.

16 September, 2009

What a Difference a Month Makes

August 19: We signed the contract with intent to buy the center construction zone, which was scheduled to be finished and turned into a house in the far-away month of October.

September 15: We go visit "our" house and find the exterior of the structure is basically finished. Paint, siding, decorative stonework (it's around the garages, but the super-bright sun really messed with the exposure in the picture, and the driveway are DONE! I think the only work left to do outside is the balcony on the 2 bedroom unit on the front. There's even some landscaping done around the sides and back, though you can't see it from here.

August 19: Scott stands in the area that will one day be our kitchen. At this time, the only interior work that has been done is drywall installation. Strangely, the bathtubs were already installed upstairs. I think maybe they built the house around them!

September 15: It looks like a kitchen! Floors, cabinets, counters, sinks, a dishwasher (the wrong dishwasher...for now...but at least it's the right color!), paint and ceiling light fixtures make the construction zone look like it might one day be habitable.

additional photos of the inside from yesterday's visit are on my Facebook album

Other new things in the house include lighting, sinks and toilets in all the bathrooms, smoke detectors, and a light in the upstairs hallway. The bathroom sinks all have the same tacky "crystal ball" handles that I think I've had everywhere I've ever lived. We asked about them in the sales office, since the girl in the design center specifically said "we just changed over from the tacky crystal ball handles." I think the girl in the design center is going to be ratted on for that! No big deal - we'll probably tackle that project right after the kitchen sink, but just go for something cheap that isn't butt ugly and won't break the bank. (can you tell I've hit my mental spending limit?)

They also installed a sliding glass shower enclosure in the master bath, which we DO NOT want. We asked when we went back in and were told "no, that's an upgrade. you don't get one of those." OK then, will you please take it out? The answer was yes. Good thing - I don't really want to tackle ANY project that involves large sheets of glass!

They were also really cool about the wrong dishwasher, and we were assured it would be switched out. We've decided to go back next week to check and see if our stove and refrigerator are in there. After that, to my untrained eye the only thing left is carpet and touch-ups.

To continue my "one month" theme...

One month from now: If all goes according to plan, we will own this house. It'll take a lot of hard work (and possibly a small miracle or two) for us to have actually moved in by this point. As I mentioned before, I'm scheduled to work the entire week that we are scheduled to close. I'll get the day off of the actual closing, but that's it. I plan to take the entire next week off, and maybe part of the week after that.

We want to get the ceiling fans installed (umm...and buy a ladder, I guess!) before we bring in any furniture. I would have the cable guy come to run the line for the modem in advance, but I think perhaps they actually need the computer/TVs there to check and make sure everything works.

And of course, at some point we'll need to pack up our existing belongings and move them! And then, we will sleep in our bedroom that overlooks the pond, and we will soak in our doorless tub, and we will cook in our beautiful kitchen...

And we'll never have to renew another lease, or write another rent check, or lug groceries up to the third floor, or drive around the building multiple times looking for a parking spot... I'll stop, but you know I could go on all day!

14 September, 2009

Some Random Photos

Elphie's opinion of the new scratching post: "Kill... kill... scratch... scratch... scratch... kill... kill..."
Milo: "Meh...I think perhaps I'd prefer to continue to use the love seat." (he won't tell you this himself, but he does love the scratching post. this might be because I've been rubbing it down every day with fresh catnip leaves...)
This was our first attempt at meatloaf cupcakes. Yeah, they look like big meatballs with potato caps, but they tasted good!
We learned that next time we need to bake them in those little disposable metal muffin tins so that they can maintain the cupcake look. Also, we were hungry and it was late so I didn't take the time to actually pipe the potatoes to make them look like frosting. Overall, I'd say it was as successful a first attempt as possible. I'm trying to perfect the technique so that I can do mini meatloaf muffins for the next potluck at work.

13 September, 2009

Fan-Tastic! (as promised)

Have you ever gone to a home improvement store and stood staring up at a ceiling full of fans that all look pretty much the same and tried to picture the individual fans in a space that you haven't even seen finished?

It's sort of difficult!

The fan at the top-center of this photo is currently the front-runner for our living room. Mostly because I like the swirled frosting on the light fixtures.

Scott and I are divided for the bedroom fan. He likes this one, but I don't like the globe. My choice in-store was this one, but I don't really like it anymore either. I don't think I want one with a dark spot in the middle of the globe. That might be hard to find. Plus, we need to make sure the tray ceiling isn't going to be a factor when choosing blade length.

I guess we're still quite up in the air on this one.

12 September, 2009


NOTE: BATHtastic is a show on DIY. This entry has nothing to do with that show. I just like to say the word.

Yesterday was window shopping day for certain decorating ideas. First stop: Bed Bath & Beyond. The shower curtain I found before was not at all what I wanted when I saw it in person. In fact, it wasn't even hanging up on display like 90% of the curtains they sell. But I think I did get lucky with this curtain (and rug) and some of these accessories. They really do go together nicely. I had them sitting together in the display to make sure.

If you're getting the impression that these blog posts are turning into some sort of brag book, I'm sorry. It's not so much a brag book as a place for me to record links to things so that I have it for personal reference later on. I doubt these posts are interesting to anyone but me. But you know... there's a whole world out there to entertain. Right now, I'm serving myself. Up next (after work or tomorrow): FAN-tastic!

10 September, 2009

Kitchen Mania

Well, we survived our trip to the design center today. By far the worst part of the experience was finding out that the standard (and already ordered so we couldn't get out of it) kitchen faucet/vegetable sprayer is the ugliest monstrosity ever. Seriously, the vegetable sprayer is WHITE! I think Scott and I unanimously decided what Home Improvement Project #1 is going to be. Sheesh! (after a quick 20-minute internet search, this is my front-runner)

The much better news is that our kitchen is going to look a lot like the model. Sure, we've got mica counter tops and laminate flooring, but the aesthetic is pretty much the same as what you see here. Those are even our appliances! For anyone who enjoys appliance porn, here's the links to the dishwasher, fridge and range. Oh, the electronic controls make me positively giddy! Thank you, sales rep, for giving us the incentive appliance upgrade for free. Otherwise, we'd have scratch & dent el-cheapo models instead.

The background of this photo shows the cabinets - they call the color "clove," which I expected to be much darker - that are in the kitchen and both upstairs bathrooms. The color chip on the right is the kitchen counter, and the bland one on the left is the master bath counter. The guest bath is a slightly less boring beige. zzzzz

In non-kitchen, strictly hypothetical news:

We also took a stroll through Rooms to Go today and actually fell in love with a dining set and a couch. The dining set is taller than standard, and opens up into an oval. Scott isn't sure whether he likes this one or the one from World Market better. I'm leaning towards this one. The padded chairs are a major bonus, and the built-in storage box under the table is really neat. All I'll say about the couch is that it comes in a perfectly nice beige color not found on the web site and is quite possibly the most comfortable couch I've ever sat in. And did I mention the whole thing reclines? observe:

Jamie is laughing because Scott needed to back up 3 different times before he got the whole "room" in the shot. And in case you were wondering, we're toying with the idea of an accent wall the burgundy color seen in the throw pillows.

RTG is not cheap, so if we decide to go this route, we're going to keep an eye out for sales and coupons (they have them often) and see how we can knock down the price. Step one: buy the couches and one end table. Lamps and coffee table? Unnecessary! And of course, we can't buy anything until the lender is finished inspecting our loan application with a fine-tooth comb. Until then, we're just going to have fun window shopping.

09 September, 2009

Sign of the Times

It's a sad time for fine dining. I was doing a little research on AAA Five Diamond restaurants in various markets around the country - Florida, NYC, Vegas and Chicago - and found it's not a great time to be in the business of opulent cuisine. Of the four 2009 Five Diamond restaurants here in Florida:

* Artisans at the Ritz Carlton Naples is closed indefinitely. Currently the room is being used for private functions.
* L'Escalier at The Breakers is only open seasonally, from November through May
* The Restaurant at the Four Seasons Palm Beach is closed for the summer
* Only Victoria & Albert's at WDW is still open year-round, obviously kept afloat by tourist dollars brought in by the lure of Disney/Universal/Sea World.

It looks like Florida isn't alone. Tuscon's only Five Diamond restaurant won't be reopening after its summer hiatus. (from the Arizona Daily Star) The end of the article reads like a eulogy for fine dining:

It once was that when a restaurant garnered the AAA Five Diamond award, it was a near guarantee of customers. The award, given rarely, is a mark of sublime cuisine, service and ambiance.

But the closure of the Ventana Room follows a trend of five-diamond restaurants closing around the country.

In Phoenix, the tony Mary Elaine's at the Phoenician Resort closed and reopened as a steakhouse, albeit one with a James Beard Award-winning chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, at the helm. In Scottsdale, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort's five-diamond restaurant, Marquesa, closed two years ago. In Boston, Aujourd'hui, the fine-dining restaurant at the Four Seasons, closed late last spring.

I wonder how many will be left by November when AAA releases the 2010 winners. I wonder whether the era of conspicuous excess is coming to an end for good. And I wonder if the rich have finally stopped getting richer while the poor get poorer.

07 September, 2009

Proof Positive

The following picture is proof that:
a) the pantry was once empty, except for a bottle of wine, and
b) at least someone enjoyed that last foray into cleaning and organizing!

I'm just bummed I didn't get a picture a few minutes later when she was sprawled across the shelf.
I love that this picture could totally be black & white except for her eyes!

05 September, 2009

She Believes She Can Fly

Note: Five minutes after I left the living room, Alabama scored their first touchdown of the game. I fear this means I won't be allowed back in front of the TV for the rest of the NCAA Football season. Also? Go Penn State!

We tried to clean out the kitchen pantry/closet combo today. It didn't go nearly as well as our previous unless-you-need-it-or-REALLY-want-it-you-throw-it-away cleaning sessions. The small pantry was full of things that we need, or that we want to attempt to sell or give away, and it really felt like we pulled it all out and then put it all back in. I did manage to wrap a box full of glasses in newspaper. So hey - one box packed!

The larger closet is the Home of Christmas, which basically made it my mess to clean up. On the bright side, we finally got all of Christmas put away (shameful secret: up until this morning, our Christmas wreath and my Advent calendar were still hanging on the walls). I also did some cathartic throwing away - Christmas ornaments that had been purged from my Dad's collection by the WSM and "gifted" to me. Every time I saw the boxes, I got angry. And now I'll never see them again. Somehow that works for me.

While I was sitting in the midst of piles of boxes, Elphie was doing her manic run around the apartment, jumping on as many boxes as possible. At one point, her little flying squirrel trick fell short of her aim. How short? Well, one of her back feet landed on my left forearm. I ended up with two scratches - one superficial scratch about 3" long, and another that was about 2" long and much deeper. And I had one of those moments, looking down at a little mock-up of the Grand Canyon on my arm and knowing it was about to fill with blood. And it did. Yes, I washed it. Yes, I used soap. Yes, I slathered it with Neosporin and covered it with one of those giant knee-sized bandages.

After that (and the previously unmentioned broken thumbnail on the same side), my cleaning mojo was gone. We did what we set out to do, but it just wasn't as fun this time. Next week we both have two days off - the same days even! - so we'll have a day for fun and a day for gutting work. And maybe some more actual packing. I enjoy that part too.

04 September, 2009

Linen Closet

This morning's project was the linen closet. Here's a partial list of things found within:

  • Ghirardelli chocolate-caramel squares, probably from 2006 or '07
  • Unopened pack of yellow practice golf balls (kept)
  • A zillion travel bottles of Spa H2O Shampoo, Conditioner and lotion (kept)
  • A dozen partial bottles of shampoos and conditioners that I didn't like
  • Marriage certificate (kept)
  • Two envelopes of family photos (some kept)
  • Some random electronics that went to the closet to die
  • Dead light bulbs (kept, because we're going to swap out the CF bulbs in the bathroom vanity before we leave)
  • Bucket of cleaning products untouched by human hands in at least 2 years
  • Two bags full of papers that Scott needs to sort into 'shred' and 'toss' piles
  • A petrified roach

Good news for both of us, the apartment complex newsletter arrived today. There's a community yard sale this month. Scott's already scheduled off that day, and I'm going to take off as well, and I'm going to schlep our crap downstairs and get rid of as much as possible. The leftovers I plan to take directly to a Good Will drop-off. No sense lugging the stuff we don't want back up the stairs, right?

This means we only have two weeks to finish our initial sweep & sort. No problem. As far as I can tell, we have the two closets in the kitchen, the desk drawers, the bottom of the bedroom closet (did the stuff on the shelves last week), and the dressers in the bedroom to go through. I'm off tomorrow, and plan to tackle the kitchen.

03 September, 2009


We're going to be hiring another full-time person into my office. There's lots to do, as we are changing the scope of the job and changing 3 other major things at The Restaurant all at the same time. It's pretty intense.

Add to that the little matter of buying a house! Did I mention our projected closing date is October 9? Funny - that's at the tail end of a scheduled 10-day stretch at work for me because the other girl who works nights is going on a cruise. This means I'm going to have to bring a secretary in between now and then and re-train her how to do the job (because half of it changed earlier this year) so that I can get the day off to buy a house!

Oh yeah, plus we have to pack and move and redecorate and buy furniture and get the cats de-clawed and try to get out of our lease a month early and...

When I start making mental to-do lists, I check out. It's the Zoloft effect. Really, when I was on Zoloft whenever I got overwhelmed my brain just stopped thinking about whatever it was thinking about. It was like a pleasant fog rolling in. Anyway, these days when I get overwhelmed by things I should be thinking about, I find myself doing inconsequential things like window shopping for shower curtains.

Sadly, even the shower curtains have failed me today. I'm looking for something fairly nebulous to go with the master bath theme we (and by "we" I think I really do mean both Scott and I, but I'm never really sure when he actually agrees with me and when he's saying yes because he knows I'll change my mind 18 more times) came up with. This one is the closest I've found, but I'm not really fond of the horizontal stripes. The color palette is good though.

I know what you're thinking. Let me assure you that the orange bathroom isn't going away. The upstairs guest bath is getting the Nemo accessories and the bright orange shower curtain. What overnight guest wouldn't want to see ORANGE first thing in the morning?

Well, I'm going to close my eyes and do some deep breathing before heading off to work.