Skip to content

Posts from the ‘home’ Category

Backed Up To Dos & Laundry Room Refresh

My to-do list has seemingly exploded this past week. Beyond the basics of keeping a house tidy and organized, I worked all 8 of the last days. My little bits of graphic design work has kept me humming along designing ads for local businesses. Then there is carving out time for my art, which I consider ‘a job’ and the days when I’m not busy working downtown I ‘work’ at my ‘painting job’  the same hours I’d work if I were at my job outside of the  home. It’s an interesting balance, but if I didn’t consider my time in my studio ‘work’ I’d never be able to justify painting over housework like laundry and mopping. So it is work then. Without the quotes.

Just this past Sunday I was approached and asked to create a painting for the church’s Easter service, so some time today will be spent researching for that painting and sketching.

A few more design ads are popping up in my docket, and of course there is the pressure of creating enough of my own works to enter into art galleries.

I can only imagine what the work/life juggle would be like if there were kids in the mix!

In spite of today being a work in my studio day, I will do a bit of laundry because clean clothes and sheets are always a positive thing, and the bright shiny newness of the paint in the laundry room is calling my name. Elevating the monotony is always a good thing right? We started with this awful green room. Peeling blue-green linoleum, monster green walls…it was gross. Lots of vacuuming, removing linoleum and painting later and we have a pretty decent space to do the laundry in. It’s certainly not a finished space, but it is much brighter, lighter and less depressing to do the laundry in the updated space. The stark whiteness was a bit…dull still, so a navy stripe wraps it’s way around the room now, jogging it’s placement at the corners of the room. Besides adding a better light, or painting the exterior of the laundry sink to cover up old paint smears it’s a much nicer room with no money invested in it. Thankfully I had the sample of navy paint leftover from testing colors for the garage doors, and the white paint is just flat ceiling paint. Bryan and I both hate painting ceilings, so if we don’t have a lot leftover than we won’t feel like we need to paint many of the ceilings, right?laundry

laundry2

Guess I don’t quite have that work/life balance down yet. I can’t quite seem to let go of my feelings that the running of the house is my solo responsibility even though we both work outside of the home, and Bryan is independently insistent on helping out (with no solicitation from me)! It’s just ingrained in me I guess.

How do you achieve or in my case ‘trick’ yourself into a work/life balance? Does anyone have it down to a science?

Advertisements

One Large Room=Design Dilemma

When we bought this house one thing we absolutely loved about it was the large family room. No worries on whether or not our couch would fit. Instead it was something like will we be able to see the tv? Haha. Not kidding. I’m still not totally sold on the layout, partially because something feels off, and partially because we don’t want to spend anymore money on furniture at this point so there remains large ‘holes’ no matter how you shake things up in there.

Within the first weekend of owning the house we were here, walls painted and Grover carpet in place:20130222-110229.jpg

Then the carpet disappeared: 20130222-110241.jpg

We added flooring and our furniture, homemade curtains, and some color with the pillows and a rug:photo 1

Things felt dark and cramped and something was off. One day, while browsing through pinterest and my Better Home and Garden magazine collection I realized an ottoman with long skinny legs rather than the big steamer trunk would really lighten the place up. The only problem was the room was so large one, unless it was as big as the trunk wouldn’t really help. And I didn’t want something that big. So I needed two ottomans.

The need for two made the possibility of finding something cheap at a thrift store or Habitat for Humanity slim to none. So I turned my sights to Home Goods, Marshalls and TJMaxx. There were pairs galore but I needed something either in a great fabric, or easy to recover that wouldn’t break the bank. Countless single ottomans/benches were great colors. But the price and the lack of a duplicate ruled them right out. Then, I found these relatively easy to recover benches, but they were in a harsh geometric pattern, complete with shiny nickel nailhead trim around them. And the price was exorbitant, $299 a piece. So I kind of gave up on the idea and pushed it to the back burner. A few weeks later I went back to browse and they were still there, taunting me. This time the price had dropped to $149. Still, for both that would be $300 + tax and that too was way more than I could spend. So once again, even while I hated leaving them behind I did just that. I called the store though when I got home and asked what their sales schedule was, thinking I’d plan on coming back in whenever the sale day hit and scooping them up then. They said those two pieces were already marked down as far as they would go. Dejected I hung up. Guess it was back to square one.

Once again, a few weeks later I found myself back at HomeGoods, this time, somehow they were still there (ok well maybe that isn’t so surprising since they were very intense) only now they were marked down, all the way to $69 a piece. Still higher than anything I could have bought at the furniture thrift store, at a savings of $460 I scooped them up and brought them home where I began the task of painstakingly pulling out the nailhead trim and removed the crazy fabric. I did not photograph the process because it was hours of using a flat head screw driver and needle nose pliers to pull out the hundreds of staples and nailhead pins. My wrists ached for days. But to commemorate the crazy fabric:

IMG_3334

 

And the new fabric:IMG_3336

And the new view of the room (granted this one has the Christmas Tree in it):DSC00157

Now I only need to figure out what to put where the christmas tree was. Anyone have any suggestions? Below are two pics to show my dilemma. It can’t be too closed off, because the front door, and the two sets of stairs (up and down) all need walking access.

photo 5

DSC00156

 

Enjoy the snow day!

 

 

One Year Down

29 to go.

One year ago today it was the beginning of ‘winter storm Nemo’. It was the final walk through of our house. It was the day we went to closing. The day the furnace decided to ‘be unreparable’. The day my in-laws drove five hours through bad weather and traffic to help us do some projects around the house and move. The weekend we painted two pink rooms and all the trim, ripped out a bathroom, ripped out Grover blue shag carpeting, painted the subfloor ing, steamcleaned five rooms of carpeting two times each, scrubbed the bathrooms. The day we got three feet of snow and were snowed in for three days. The day our tree decided to lose half of its fork and fall on a neighbor’s fence who then threatened to sue if we didn’t get a tree company out right that minute.

That unrepeatable furnace? My father-in-law fixed it for 2 dollars and change in parts. He hasn’t given us that bill.
Those freshly painted rooms? We are so glad they are no longer pink. That shag carpeting? Nice hardwood flooring. The planned move? Didn’t happen due to the snow. The steam cleaning? Saved us buying new carpets. That three feet of snow? Kept my inlaws around an extra day and that gave us time to rip out fuzzy wallpaper plus two other layers of wallpaper, and spackle and paint the bathroom off of the kitchen.
The tree that fell? Was a healthy tree so our insurance sent a nice ‘it’s not our problem letter’.

One year ago today it really didn’t feel like our house. Around midnight when the storm was blowing full force and I was the only one awake it felt like we had made a huge mistake and dove in way over our heads. But that was in the emotional heat of the moment.

I have learned how to spackle and paint without taping off my edges. I can rip up carpeting and install new lights. I can scrub bathrooms like you wouldn’t believe and can assist Bryan with replacing windows. Bryan can add outlets where there weren’t any before. He can build a dinning room table with a drill and a hand saw. He can fix clogged plumbing, replace the flushing valves on the toilets , he can stop the roof from leaking.
I can’t believe how much we have learned in the past year and how much we have grown. I wish the me who was wide awake in the middle of the night listened to the wind howling and the tree branches crashing down knew without any doubt that it was going to be ok. But if we hadn’t learned new skills, if we hadn’t learned to trust we never would be where we are today.

What a blessing this year has been. Where has this past year taken you?

Timber!!

Good news! And bad news.

I woke up this morning to the sound of machinery, which isn’t that odd since the last two mornings I’ve woken up to the sounds of roofing…noisy machines and men. Today though was a truck. Very close to my bedroom. Welcome to life in a small city. I’m certainly in a nice neighborhood part of the city, but houses are still close together. And my back yard neighbor is getting to work. Or having workers get to work. That is much more accurate.

This is the same neighbor that just finished jack hammering the flooring of her garage out to prepare for a new one being poured. This is the same neighbor that a branch of my tree fell and knocked over a 4 foot section of her fence during the blizzard we bought the house in and was over here the next morning banging on our door letting us know we would be paying for ‘the damage’. I say that in quotes because she had herself plowed out that same day, while we were stuck on our cul-de-sac for 3 days and literally it was one 4 foot section of wooden fencing which costs $50 bucks at Home Depot at most. Trust me, she’s way more than good for it. She lives in the estate (yes for real) with a tennis court and sprawling lawn and large house for her husband and her. We live on a street that takes up the same amount of space as her property, but it holds 7 properties all with a decent amount of space.  And our properties are not McMansions that have sprung up over night. No, these were all built in the 50s-60s.

Our street-Neighbor's House

Nice comparison there…the neighbors house is the property on the bottom of the photo. Back to the point….

The tree that overhangs our house is coming down! Whoop whoop!! It was the one scary thing about our house. No actually, it wasn’t. There have been lots of scary things related to furnaces and hot water heaters and electrical stuff, but we dealt with all of that before we closed on the house. We had some semblance of control over those items. Some. This tree however, overhung a large majority of our house and was huge. This is also the very tree that let a squirrel fall down our chimney and terrorize me one morning.

So, to help you visualize the back and forth tree ‘issues’ I present this next pic.

Tree Arrows

This Google Earth photo was taken early this spring before the leaves grew in. You can see the blue arrow which points to the shadow of a tree, there aren’t any leaves on it. It hangs over the fence of the two houses on the street. Ours on the right, and our other neighbors on the left. That is half of the tree, the rest of the tree fell off backwards and laid over the driveway for less than 12 hours, right along the blue arrow.

The purple arrow points to another shadow of a tree, this one also without leaves. You can see it’s shadow all over the roof of our house. Not a good thing. Miraculously it survived Hurricane Sandy and the Blizzard, so we weren’t really worried, but it is nice to go into winter not having that hanging over our heads. Literally.  ha haha haha (my father-in-law will get a kick out of that)

In this pre-purchase MLS listing photo you can see the towering tree behind the lower point of our roof. Those sprawling branches literally cover the roof, almost sticking out in front of the house. It’s crazy. While I have this picture out, it’s pretty crazy we saw this house and somehow looked past all of the crazy design choices and backbreaking work to see what it could become, and we aren’t even part of the way there.

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 9.41.57 AM

then

 

IMG_193620130904-082117.jpg

Now. There is still that concrete pad to paint, and that ugly light to replace and some window trim to paint. But there is no more gravel! or dusty blue color! or weeds! And we have added plants and green things and life!

 

Oh and as for the bad news I referred to at the beginning of the post? I didn’t know what was going on outside so opened a curtain and peeked through. And there to my surprise was a man sitting in the cab of the tree cutter’s truck, looking right over the fence at me in my winter fuzzy bathrobe. Caught like a deer in the headlights I waved and then ducked back inside. Oh boy oh boy. I don’t really care though because a) I get mistaken for a teenager all the time so I doubt he thinks I’m the homeowner and therefore a grown woman. b) it was a white robe through patterned sheers curtains so he probably doesn’t have a clue c) he seemed nice and waved back.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Free Printable

So for work I do a lot of graphic design work and marketing. Thanks to using Adobe Creative Cloud, I have a little more time left in my membership. So for the first time ever I’m offering some graphic design work for free. Email me your favorite quote, Bible verse, line from a song, etc. And colors you are interested in, and I will whip up something you can print off your home computer and stick in a frame. Or tape to your bathroom mirror, or your kid’s closet. You get the idea 🙂 And I’ll post the rest of them up on my website for free download to others as well.

For example, this is one I did for me:Weary&Burdenedwatermark

 

ps. for those of you following the bedroom wall saga I’ll get an updated post up tomorrow. I’m just easing back into the swing of things after heading home and was so not interested in a long post today. Have a great one.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Summer is one of those season I’m always sad to see leave, especially when August wasn’t as hot as usual. Granted, Fall is the other season I get sad to see leave, but much less so than summer. I am glad I have no part of the ‘back-to-school’ thing this year. So glad not to be getting ready for classes or preparing to teach.

We crammed a lot into our summer though. Countless days on the beach, many days sailing, four weddings, in three different states, only one of them in Connecticut. (One more wedding to go a plane ride away.) Home improvement projects out my ears – window replacement, window cleaning (it counts!), wall paper removal, making a hidden kitty door from the kitchen to the basement for easy cat access to the litter box without a cat door or leaving a door open. New family room rug, rearranging furniture in the family room, power washing the house, stripping 6 layers of paint off the old front door and repainting, adding new door hardware, painting the garage doors (4 coats of paint), adding some new plants, cutting a bedspread down to size and finishing it to match the other bedspread. It’s getting there. Of course all of those summer accomplishments doesn’t count the couple of BBQs we hosted, 8+ weekends with house guests, or the canoe trip with Bryan’s parents or the beach trip with mine. Whew. Busy season.

Still not ready for it to be over though. I need a few more good beach days. Maybe this weekend.

Today I’ll leave you with an updated snapshot of the front of the house. Spoiler- it’s not done yet. Paint has been bought to paint the concrete, and we are casually browsing for a replacement light fixture.

20130904-082117.jpg

It’s looking pretty inviting for all of you who haven’t come to visit yet! *wink*

I’m Seeing Double

Remember this room?

photo 2

It’s bright, colorful, and sparsely furnished. Well, when you buy a house on a budget that’s sometimes what happens. This is our spare guest room, the room that will probably eventually be a child’s room. So we didn’t want to spend a ton of money filling it up with furniture. We had the twin mattress already and walking through Habitat for Humanity shortly after we bought the house we saw this bed. Actually we saw two of them, but since we only had one mattress and they weren’t marked super cheap we bought the one.

Not only do we love the brass bed it means we have beds for three guests. Not a problem when a couple girl friends come to visit, but when my family comes, 5 people needing beds, it means two sleep on the floor. Granted the ones on the floor are boys, and their tough, but as the older sister that makes me feel bad. So imagine my joy when we went into the Habitat for Humanity a few weeks ago looking for a buffet for the kitchen, and the twin to this bed was still there, marked way down. LIke 75% off. So we bought it. Snapped it up more like. And when I had a gift card from Sears from the automotive department to apologize for the employees comments I snapped up a highly reviewed mattress for $50 including shipping and taxes. Nice.

All I needed was bedding. But I didn’t want another crazy colored comforter like the one we had, and didn’t think I’d be able to find it since it was the last one left at Kohl’s in March and it was $9 for the set. So I decided (and Bryan affirmed) that we just needed new, less crazy bedding. But I still didn’t want to spend a lot of money. It’s a spare guest room after all. That’s like a spare, spare room. So off I headed to Home Goods (nothing), Marshall’s cute things, but only ever one twin of anything I liked), Christmas Tree Shop (old lady stuff galore), Bed Bath and Beyond (I was not spending $79 a pop and only had $5 dollar off coupons), JCPenney (sometimes they have coupons), Macy’s (had $50 dollars in gift cards), and Sears (I was desperate). Nothing. I wanted something neutral, with a little bit of pattern. Something that would go with the existing rug, and tone down the colorful walls.

So with an inkling of an idea I headed back to Marshalls. There were three different quilts I liked. Two were neutral with pattern, and one had a graphic design on a white background. But still none had two twins. Two queens? sure. Two kings? sure. No doubles in twins. Then I realized, I know how to sew. I could always cut one blanket down to make a second twin, and bind it to match. The wheels started turning. If I bought the king and a twin I’d have enough fabric to have a matching sham pillow for both beds, without spending the extra $30 dollars. So we went home with two quilts in three different patterns to see what we liked best.

A clear winner made the cut, and the rest were returned. So for $60 dollars we had the material for two twin quilts and two standard shams. That’s a whole lot better than the best fit I had found at BBB which would have been $185 for two quilts and two shams.

Then came the tricky part, cutting the big quilt down to size. First I laid the king quilt flat on the floor, lining up two corners of the twin with the king (okay there was a 4 inch overhang lengthwise that doesn’t bother me) I pulled it taut over the king, leaving approximately 2.5 feet of extra king quilt. I snipped with fabric shears leaving a quarter of an inch extra the whole way down. (If you also do this you may have to change what you cut. I had a quilt where the backing fabric became the binding, so I didn’t need to salvage the original binder of the quilt.)

 

photo 3

Then, so I would have some binding fabric to fold over (tuck the newly cut edge under and still cover the batting and top layer of the quilt I snipped out that extra quarter of a inch of the batting and top layer.

photo 4

Finally a folded over the raw edge of the binder, covered over the cut edge on the top of the quilt and hand sewed the length of it. It took a while, and my hand stitching isn’t perfect, but I didn’t want to spend time ripping machined stitches, and I’m not fast enough with my iron to press the folded down edge and get it to stay even with pins. It was just to tricky to do any other way. But with a good Netflix movie playing I finished it up in no time. So, as soon as the mattress gets here (delivery tomorrow) I’ll be seeing double quilts and bed frames.

photo

Then it’ll just be one little brother sleeping on the floor. Well once the mattress gets here that is. And Bryan carries the bed frame in tonight. And the sheets and quilts come out of the dryer. (Gotta wash off all the storm germs and kitty fur!)

Not a bad little upgrade to go from sleeping 3 extra people to 4.

$20 for second bed frame

$60 dollars for bedding for both beds

That’s only $80 bucks. And now the purple is toned down a bit, but still goes along with the rich blue of the other bedroom. I’m a fan.

Who’s coming next?

 

 

 

Happy Six Months Little House!

 

Yes, I was one of those weird people that kept track of ‘versarries’. Date we met, first date, etc. I get a major kick that we got married four and a half years after we started dating. To the day. It’s probably the only way numbers mean things to me. I really was never very into math. But I digress. Today marks 6 months to the day from when Bryan and I became home owners.

It was the morning of the blizzard of ’13. The day we found out the furnace was running, but the blower motor was shot, the day his parents left PA as soon as his mom got out of work at 7 am. The day we got snowed into this house with the windows not all the way shut because we couldn’t shut them from the inside and Bryan went outside in the middle of the night, middle of the blizzard to push on them while I tried to flip the locks. It was the start of the weekend where we went from blue shag, pink walls, and fuzzy wallpaper to a freshly painted (ceilings, walls, trim and subfloor) family room, guest bedroom, guest bathroom, and de papered and re-spackled (removing 3 layers of painted wallpaper removed parts of the plaster walls) half bath. It was the weekend my mother-in-law ran the carpet steamer all weekend long, cleaned all of our carpets at least two times and saved us the expense of replacing them. It was also the weekend of the ‘you’re going to pay for this’ neighbor. Read all about it here, then here, and wrap up here.

Ironically enough the same neighbor is re-cemmenting her garage floor and starting at 7 am all week there has been the glorious sound of jack hammers, big trucks, and who knows what 30 feet away from my bed. Ah well. At least I’m not getting told I’m going to pay for anything.

Looking around, it’s hard to believe what we’ve accomplished in the last six months, it’s also hard to believe what we’ve spent:

Beyond unpacking…

20130529-170913.jpg

Our Bedroom: pretend the wallpaper is removed, because it is in real life We’ve removed the wallpaper, cleaned the carpet, buy and have installed new 8′ sliding door, added shelves to the closet, switched the ceiling light, recaulked some of the bathroom buy and hang new towel bar, hung some art, rip out 5 electric baseboards. (Admittedly not much was done to this room)

20130530-093331.jpg

Library: hung art and photos, bought and put together ikea loveseat and chaise, rip out 5 electric baseboards, broke window (oh boy)

photo 1

photo 2

Kitchen: touch up the paint, bought cushions and pillows for the built-in bench, buy, move the electrical ceiling box four feet, hang a new light in the breakfast nook, patch the old lights 2′ x 2′ square hole in the ceiling (not a typo) buy and hang a new light over the table, build the table (yes, Bryan in awesome), buy and put together ikea kitchen chairs hang art, place new rug

photo 5

Half Bath: strip wallpaper, remove and replace the toilet, paint walls, trim and ceiling, stencil walls, buy and add towel ring

photo 3 photo 4

Stairs: Remove all carpet, padding, and tack strips, fill and sand steps, paint steps and trim

photo 1

Family Room: Paint ceiling, walls, floor, trim, buy ans have installed new hardwood floors, sew and hang curtains, buy and put together ikea tv stand, buy loveseat, place new rug

photo 5

Guest Bedroom 1: Paint walls and trim, buy and hang art and curtains

photo 2

Guest Bedroom 2: Remove wall-paper, paint walls and trim, buy bed frame, bedding, art,

photo 1

Guest Bath: Paint, paint, paint. (It took three coats of white paint and primer to cover the chalky pink walls, buy floor mats, shower curtain

photo 3

Art Studio: Not a blessed thing

no photo. sorry not sorry 🙂

Basement & Crawl Space: buy washer and dryer, fix both furnaces (credit from the seller), three times total, buy and have installed new water heater (credit from the seller), catch squirrel in have a heart trap

photo 4

this is definitely a work in progress photo….the doors need a few more coats of paint, the window needs paint, the concrete steps and garage pad needs paint, and the front door needs to be scraped the rest of the way and painted. We do think the mint and blue garage doors will blend better, just wait and see 🙂

Outside: buy and use pressure washer, rip out 16 yards of gravel, rip out old overgrown weeds and trim back bushes, plant new plants out front, mulch the front, build raised garden bed and plant blueberry bushes, peach tree and grape-vine, paint garage doors and scrape paint on front door, fix hot tub, do a ton of electrical work (thankfully we got a credit from the seller), fix gutters, install rain barrel.

The crazy thing is we have done this conservatively, on a major budget. And waited to do a lot of it, or did it ourselves. The sliding door [the old door had a failed seal and was not insulating well], hot water heater [not up to code, inefficient] fixing both furnaces, and the electrical work [electrical panels in bathrooms? duct taped wires externally not in conduits?] were unfortunate necessaries, and things we trusted to the professionals. But we are so relieved they are fixed and working as they should. All the rest makes the house a home. And we love it.

Wow. Just writing this up has made me exhausted. That doesn’t include the hours we’ve spent at our jobs, the vacation with my family, long weekend with Bryan’s, the housewarming party, or the fact that every weekend from May 11th til September 14th had house guests, weddings, or major time fillers that didn’t let us accomplish things except 2. That’s right, 2 of 17 weekends were packed almost solid. That’s more exhausting (a good solid though, we loved having visitors and celebrating happy times with friends and family). And that’s not thinking about all there still is to do. But it is pretty cool to think of where we could be in six more months.

So, there you have it. 6 months down. Who knows how many to go. But I think it’s pretty safe to say the house won’t be changing as fast in the next 6 months. A lot of the other projects on our to-do list involve a lot more money (think bathroom and laundry room renovations), time (think lots of fiddly things like switching out the outlets and switches for ones that match), and time (like having any time to do it all when we both work, and the long list of stuff we have to do). Yes that’s right. Double time and money too.

What did you accomplish in your first 6 months of homeownership?

(Please forgive my slightly disorganized home, I realized mid post I didn’t have enough pictures already on my computer so much of the home is shown how it appears right this second, complete with rain outside, and I was not tidying up the rest of the way without more coffee, likewise for any slightly blurry photos 🙂 )

Adventure is Out There: Camping Edition #1

Wow, can’t believe it’s Monday mid-morning and that I’m back home with a soft bed, plumbing, and my kitties. We had a great time. A tiring, but great time.

Friday am we left home bright and early. Way too early. Like 6 am. By 12 we had dropped our car off at the parking lot at the end of our expedition, and driven to the start. We loaded 6 people, one dog and food, tents, and other necessary equipment into the two canoes and hand-built by my father-in-law kayak and headed out. The sun was shining, the river was flowing and we had a long ways to go. 11 miles to be exact before we hit our first campsite.

photo 1

Now I’m not going to be all macho and tell you I paddled then entire way, because I didn’t. This was no youth group day trip from New Life Island. And my arms haven’t not been doing too much working out, other than stripping layers and layers of wallpaper. But I probably paddled….85% of the time. All three days. Bryan would not stop. Bless you Bryan.

photo 2

I’m still a little in awe that I (along with Bryan) managed to propel ourselves, the canoe and maybe 80 pounds of gear down the river for thirty miles, using arm strength. I can feel a vast improvement in my arms when I flex. haha. But seriously.

photo 3

By four we reached our first stop, at a bend in the river. We unloaded our stuff, carried it up the river bank, scouted out firewood and set up. Across the river were some Bald Eagles, down stream just a bit were some beavers. It was hard to believe that after the hours of paddling I’d want to get back into the canoe to paddle around a bit before dinner, but I got in with Bryan (sans my paddle) and we explored the other side of the bank a bit, found some little streams and got hit with an amazing waft of cedar trees. I had no idea they smelled so good before they were milled. The tree in our backyard certainly doesn’t smell like that but the forest of them certainly made an impression. A good one.

After a dinner of hamburgers, but missing mustard, the best condiment was hard work. Hard work along with fire roasted burgers, and tomatoes from the garden and I was full. And tired. We all were.

Bed before 9. Bed being a camping mat and two blankets. It was pretty comfortable on the grass outside our house, but on the dirt floor of a forest, not so much. The noise of the bugs outside our tent quickly put me to sleep, though the comfort level of the bed and the start of a downpour had me tossing and turning through much of the night. Nevertheless I awoke relatively rested to a steady rain. It wasn’t going to the relaxing morning around the fire Bryan had described, and the idea of no fire in the pouring rain seemed pretty miserable. I couldn’t help but think of my warm bed back home, and how there wasn’t an end of the rain in sight (I had kept my cell with me to check the weather, though it was off most of the time), and we were in the middle of nowhere, eleven miles downstream from one car, and nineteen miles up-stream from another. That meant there was nothing to do but go on. And I had resolved myself before the trip that no matter what happened I was going to stay calm, cool, collected and cheerful. So I put on my rain jacket and went out to greet the morning, and the family. Maintaining my refusal to be anything but cheerful made any hint of ‘miserableness’ fade away.

Unfortunately in our exhaustion last night we had forgotten to put the camp chairs under the kitchen ‘roof’ so every one was wet, but Chelsea (girlfriend) and Mark (brother-in-law) got a fire started in spite of the wet wood, and Kent (father-in-law) kept the coffee coming. Darlene (mother-in-law) broke out the french toast and bacon.

After a little while we paddled on. Around 12 the rain broke, the water and trees were sparkling and three hours later we made it to our second campground. Setting up camp, placing chairs just-so in the sun to dry and gathering firewood took hardly anytime before we were relaxing again. I read, Bryan fiddled with the fire, the rest of them paddled around the island. Later we went for a swim before dinner, more reading and hanging out. A strong downpour came through, threatening to flood the camp but the boys dug trenches with their feet around the camp while us girls stayed huddled under the roof in our oh-so-dry chairs. Bed time came and with it, a much more restful night’s sleep.

photo 4

Sunday broke with sunshine, a warm fire and coffee. Lots of coffee. The fog on the river was thick and was fun to watch as it blew upstream. Reminded me of mornings here at home, along Long Island Sound. This was the kind of camping morning Bryan had described. One I would enjoy. Before too long we were packed up and ready for our final leg of the trip. The clouds were beautiful.

I felt like a conqueror of the outdoors until we paddled under I-80 and reached hordes of people swimming in the river where we were going to take the canoes out of the water. I still was a conqueror though. It was a trip that was not without it interesting moments. Moments that will become family stories, not dissimilar from my first sailing trip with Bryan. It was a bonding moment for sure.

As glad as I was to get home into my bed, it was a bit sad to have the fan for noise and not the katydids. My arms are glad for the break though. And the solid night’s sleep was amazing. Camping will probably never be my thing, but I’m pretty proud of myself. I went into it, knowing it was way out of my element, got thrown a couple of curve balls (like 11 hours of rain) and still kept smiling. All in all, it was probably the best way the first trip could go. I got over my ‘never been camping’ and ‘camping in the cold rain’ over at the same time, so most trips from here on out should be pretty painless, or at least ‘old hat’.

The pretty views made up for the inconveniences though. Have any camping stories to share?

photo 5

prequel to: Adventure is Out There: Camping Edition #1

Today’s post is a random glimpse inside my head as a real adventure looms. No fun house makeover, or food post (I’m due one of those). Feel free to skip.

Well, it’s official. My first camping experience is looming before us. This weekend Bryan and I, his parents, brother and brother’s girlfriend are going to canoe part of the Delaware River. It’s going to be a totally new experience, especially considering my first night sleeping in a tent was last night, and that was in my backyard with every modern convenience 20 feet away.

I think I’m prepared though. I have plenty of bug spray, bathing suits, sunscreen, snacks, a book. I’m scrounging up a sketch book and some colored pencils since I don’t think my cell phone battery will last long enough to take decent pictures… we will see.

It’s very fitting though. The whole ‘Adventure is Out There’ thing. I fell in love with the movie Up, when I was adventuring on my own for a semester in college in Europe, while Bryan was back here working his tail off in his classes. I bawled like a baby on the flight from Heathrow to Cairo when I first saw it. I’m sure many people identify with Mr Ferguson and Ellie, but I’ve kind of claimed them as ‘us’. We each push the other into new adventures. I pushed Bryan (and quite willingly he went) into international travel, and he’s pushing me (actually he isn’t pushing me, but he’d like me to go and I said I’d try it) into camping and being outdoorsy.

We come from two different backgrounds, he and I. Vacation to my family was going somewhere, like a beach to relax, a mountain to ski, or a faraway place to learn/explore the history and culture. Vacation to Bryan’s family was camping, hiking, canoeing to enjoy the great outdoors and occasionally to the beach to skip rocks, go sailing and swimming.

I woke up this morning, after my first night outside and genuinely asked what the appeal was. It was loud out there last night, even with ear plugs. I was a bit freaked out, sleeping outside, though I knew I’d be safe with Bry. And the ground is uncomfortable! Seriously. I wanted to understand the appeal because it’s important to him, and something he enjoys. I think it would give me a better chance of enjoying it myself.

The initial reasons Bryan gave that he liked it: It’s quiet, it’s beautiful, it’s hard work.

I countered with: It’s super loud, much louder than inside the house, it is beautiful, a bed is so much more comfortable and why would you want to work hard on vacation? He laughed, I laughed. Then I said, for real though, knowing reasons that you like it could help me appreciate it better.

Bryan: sure it’s loud, filled with birds and crickets. But there’s no people noise. A bed is comfortable sure, but when you work hard all day paddling (and I’m paddling for you remember?) the bed is comfortable because you are so tired.

Me: No people noise would be nice. And I do like the sounds of the birds. As long as there isn’t anything scary…

Bryan: I’ll protect you…

Me: So basically, it’s just an adventure right?

Bryan: Yes, and you don’t have to go ever again.

Me: So it’s an adventure. Adventure is out there!

End scene.

What Bryan doesn’t know is that I will have to go again. Not that he would make me. Never ever would. But he likes it so much that I will go. Again and again. Kind of like my mom, going skiing with my dad even when wasn’t my mom’s cup of tea. She went. So I too will go.

But more than just going for his sake I’m really hoping that I can come away seeing what it is he sees, and not seeing the things I’m afraid of. I don’t need to become hiker/camper/mountaineer for days and weeks at a time. He knew who I was when he married me. But I like fires, birds, pretty clouds and great views. I can become a weekend camper. As long as there are no snakes.

After all, Adventure is Out There!

%d bloggers like this: