Friday, September 7, 2012

Anatomy of a renovation, or how to (very slowly) lose your mind


There are some things in life you just have to learn from experience.  I'm late to this party, I think, when it comes to doing work inside the home.  Right now I consider that a blessing.

I lived through a major home renovation a few years ago.  New floors, ripping out an island (he managed to get that out of the house in one piece), replacing a sliding glass door, new baseboards, paint - the whole nine yards.  The most I can say about that experience is that I lived through it.  I didn't like it, but I did it.  There was whining.  Lots of whining.

A few months ago I knew a guy who knew a guy who did "all the marble and granite work for Aria". Awesome.  The old tile countertops needed replacing.  We met him, we'd seen his work and he had good references.  A STEAL.  Just a stellar deal.  The quote included a new kitchen sink, also badly needed.  Every day that little job turned into a nightmare.  Have the shutter guys come out and take off the shutter over the sink.  Wait two weeks for that to happen and pay them.  New faucets?  Well, if we're going to do all this, sure.  Then there was that plumbing issue.  I can't be any more specific because I have a tendency to bury my head in the sand when things go wrong.  Best I can do is say this - something broke.  One day I came home from the office and plumbing trucks were out front.  The next day I was leaving for the office and a crane was lowering a man onto my roof.  That bargain granite?  Not so much.  Now I just know it's always going to cost more.  In the granite case, close to five times more.  Not joking.

At the time of "the granite fiasco" I was considering new paint inside.  It wasn't so much that the inside of my house necessarily needed to be painted...but every design blog was telling me beige was so last year and no longer the neutral of choice.  I had to have Aloof Gray.  But I couldn't face the upset in my life...I need order.  I crave order.  So I put it on the back burner.

Fast forward to a peek into the "kids' bathroom".  What looked like a loose tile, upon inspection, well it just fell right through the wall.  I'd rather never put another single penny into this house.  I know how this works now...it doesn't matter what I've done, when it comes time to sell (I'm never moving)  they just pull the comps.  All that hype ten years ago about curb appeal and landscaping?  Means nothing.  My home might sell faster than any other house on the street, but it isn't worth more.  Another tidbit learned from experience.  I digress.  Bathrooms upstairs now became an emergent project.  And that's what we are in the middle of.  Has it been a repeat of renovations gone by?  YES.  Have things gone wrong?  YES.  Spending more than that worthless piece of paper, non-contract estimate?  YES.  Did I decide to go all Aloof Gray because order was out the window for "5 to 9 days" (the time they estimated to do both bathrooms)?  I did.  Is it taking longer than 5 to 9 days?   Of course

The picture?  That's my new rug.  It looks great with Aloof Gray (I think).  I'm not certain because it's backordered until November 30th.  That means one, I get it around Christmas and two, my life is a walking Murphy's Law.

I want to be the "chill" girl.  The one who goes with the flow.  It's time to give in.  I'm never going to be her. 

Also, the tile guy is afraid of me.  This does not make me feel good about myself.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Strawberry Jam


I finally did it.  I bit the bullet and made jam.  I followed a recipe Bridget sent me, a treasured one from a family who converted her to the goodness that is homemade jam.  It isn't fancy.  There's no pectin, no skimming of foam . . . just a simple recipe that makes just enough for two people, so no canning is necessary.

In a large saucepan, toss 1 pound halved and hulled strawberries with 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Let sit, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved, 1 hour.  Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until berries are soft, 8-10 minutes. Add 1/2 pound each raspberries and blueberries and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and secure lid, cool to room temperature. 

Makes approximately 1 pint.

P.S.  I substituted raspberries and blueberries with more strawberries.

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