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Window Repair…Replacement

We bought a house with wood windows. Some of those windows were in better shape than others. Those others needed peeling paint and bits of rot chipped out and re-puttied, painted and sealed. Being the sensible people we are (ha), we planned to fix the windows to make them last longer until we could afford to replace them. There were two sets of awning windows in the office/library that we hated. Some didn’t open, some didn’t shut; it was a hot mess.

Three weekends ago while I was working on painting the garage doors, Bryan was working on the windows. He’d spent a while scraping everything he could/should off of the windows and was going to start working on the sill. To do so he needed to take out the window sash. Catastrophe struck. The window, though definitely not to heavy for him, was heavier than he expected and it slipped the 5 inches to the deck and shattered. He came out front to get me and show me what happened.

At this point, we were experiencing two very different sets of emotions. He was ticked, angry, annoyed and all bent out of shape because it was (in his words) stupid, aggravating, annoying, and an expensive mistake. I was calm and unruffled. Why? Well I hated the windows as much as you can hate an inanimate object. They were eyesores and ugly. I was excited we’d get to put something nice in their place, but slightly worried about the cost, and how we would go about doing it. I also couldn’t be doing fist-bumps around the library yehawing like a crazy person because Bryan was upset. So I just said, ‘hey, it’s ok. It’s only a window, and we aren’t going to the hospital right now.” Then I added, “besides we didn’t like them anyways so think of it as a good thing.” All the while the Hallelujah chorus is blaring in my head. I kept a straight face through all of this, I have a very good poker face.

Thankfully, even though the glass shattered, they were double pane windows and there was only one small sliver where the glass fell out in both panes, so we packing taped that window up and shut it for the time being. ย (Here is where i should have at least one picture, but I deleted them thinking I had already uploaded them. Just picture a large grid (80″ x54″ total) of four windows that crank out. Hideous. Expensive. We knew we didn’t want awning windows anymore, but to replace just that sash from Anderson was $400. Heck no. We could buy a really nice window to replace a pair of awning windows (turning them into one double hung) from Home Depot for $317 (the only option in our size, just glad there was one!), or Home Depot could install one not as nice double hung window for $800). That’s not even getting into what an 80″x54″ inch solid pane window would cost. (We have two of those in our kitchen, praying now they never break!)

So what did the two of us who had never replaced a window decide to do? Watch some installation videos for replacement windows and get to work ourselves. Dun, dun dun.

So Sunday afternoon (never start a major home renovation project on a day when you work the next day) we started on the windows. We decided we’d work on just one window at a time, to make sure we didn’t have a huge hole in the house when it was time for bed. We quickly removed two sashes, and hardware and started cutting center bar of the frame out so the window would fit. We were set to go, our rough opening matched what the window needed. We opened the box and once we got over how much nicer this window was than the ones we just removed we realized this wasn’t a simple replacement window where you install inside of the existing frame (making a smaller window) this was a full frame replacement. And to do this right we needed to remove the entire 4 sash window and lift up some siding and really tear our house apart. At three thirty. And we couldn’t just put the windows back in because we’d taken out the hardware and the crosspiece. It was scary. And overwhelming. And we already had the hole in the wall so I couldn’t just curl up in the fetal position, we had to get to work.

So we re-did our measurements. Watched some Anderson full frame replacement windows for the 400 series windows we had. Bryan sent me off to Home Depot to get some 2x4s to frame out the windows, some flexi seal water barrier, some roofing nails, and a miter box. Right around this time a been-there-done-that couple from church reached out to see how we were doing with the project. I told them we were caught by surprise with the full frame replacement, that I was heading out for more supplies, and if they had any tips we’d love it. They did one better and offered to come help. Not sure if this was a we’d-like-to-come-help offer, or a we-are-being-nice offer, we replied, “we had watched a couple of videos, but would certainly welcome your tips and advice but we don’t want you to make a special trip for it.” They said they were on their way. WOW! We just went from to pretty near clueless and relying on help videos to a veritable pro helping out.

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By the time I got home from HD, Bryan had gotten the entire window out of the wall, and our friends had just shown up. Not only did Bryan get a hand from someone who actually knew what they were doing, I got to hang out with his wife and two sweet kids. Together the guys installed the windows, getting them to the point they could be left for the night, and we celebrated with some take-out pizzas. Certainly not payment enough for their help, but it’s a start at least.

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Last night Bryan did the final waterproofing and stuck the existing trim back up. It’s ugly, but it does look a little more finished that totally exposed flexi seal stuff. Though the grubby areas where the previous owners caulked with off-white are pretty bad…. still it’s infinitely better than before! And we are at a good place to figure that out. No holes, no leaks (it’s rained both of the last two nights) We have working windows!

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So, in a nutshell, unless you have friends who are going to show up and help who know exactly what you are doing, don’t tackle major home repairs like this one on a Sunday afternoon. Hopefully I remember that. We do have another set of these awning windows on the other side of the room, but they are not broken (well cracked, some still don’t close all the way, or open) so we aren’t fixing them. Yet. Maybe next month. Maybe in the spring. When the budget allows, and we are feeling up to it. It was trial by fire, but I’m sure Bryan could do it again.

Anyone have any crazy, survived home repair by the skin of your teeth stories?

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Distracted Me

I didn’t post yesterday. And I may be a bit sporadic in the next few weeks (think a few times a week instead of the daily post I had been doing the last few weeks).

Here’s why: Some of you may know that I work at an art gallery. A small gallery in a ‘city’. It’s the biggest ‘city’ around and there’s a lot to do in the area; we get a lot of summer tourists. Sailfest is a big weekend long festival type event with the largest display of fireworks in New England, or so I’ve been told.

What’s that got to do with me? Well the art my boss let me display in the shop is completely sold out. There is nothing left, and with the influx of tourists for Sailfest come an inundation of people looking for souvenirs, nice ones to take home. To account for this I was instructed to paint up a storm in preparation. My boss needs more of my paintings. How cool is that?

So every morning I’ve been getting up earlier so I still have my time to laze about, and then painting for an hour or so before work, and an hour or so after dinner. All this on top of working, making dinner, laundry, wall paper removal in the master bedroom (peeled off the outer layer, still need to attack the glue), and generally keeping myself busy.

As if this wasn’t enough though, one of the weddings I was blessed enough to be invited to this summer (1 of the 6!) asked me to paint a guestbook tree, you know where the guests stamp their fingerprint and the couple has a keepsake to hang up in their house rather than stash an old book somewhere? How cool is that? It’s my first non-family commission. (Meaning they aren’t just asking because they feel bad!) Here’s an example from Etsy.

Needless to say I’ve been a bit distracted. I’ve left the door open to my studio one to many times, and with oil paint laying around…well Gingersnap stepped in it with her paw. I hope she didn’t try to lick it off to much and ingested poisons…guess this means I’m definitely not ready for kids yet. Darn! (Sarcasm).

So, now you have the upfront explanation of where I’ve been, or will be.

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see the paint on the little paw?

no?
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how about now? *headdesk*

 

p.s. no time to edit today, so feel free to either point out my errors and I’ll fix them later or just content yourself with the fact that I am busy painting, as these picture took forever to upload and I missed out on 30 minutes of precious painting time.

Homeward Bound

What a great movie. I was always a fan of Sassy. And that Chance was annoying, but I digress. Today is not a ‘home’ post, it’s just going to be a re-cap of our trip home, and the accompanying emotions.

This past weekend Bryan and I went home, to my parents, for the first time since Christmas. It was great to be back in the area where I knew all the roads and could get from point A to point B without consulting my phone. It was great to see my family face-to-face instead of via picture messages.

 

We were able to fit in a wedding (Congrats Karstie and Chris!); my little taller brother’s birthday (yay Alex!) Can’t believe you are 15, and almost as tell as Brandon! Bryan and I are soon to be the shortest of the family. ImageAnd we also got to fit in my sweet cousin’s 30th birthday celebration (you looked gorgeous Em!) It was great to see my sweet cousins, don’t see them near enough and we were so glad we could make it.

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I have years worth of memories of us playing on the beach, making plans that someday our kids would play on the beach together, like the big family groups with lots of adults and tons of kids. Maybe someday we will actually fulfill it!

Those two family events made it more than worth the 8 hours in the car. And the two hours of traffic. Seeing my mom, dad, brothers, sister, grandparents, cousins, and aunt made it such a great weekend. We missed a few cousins, and an aunt and uncle, wish they all could have come. My family is small, very small, and those who have passed away left behind holes that can’t be filled, but I am so thankful for the few I still have. *tear

It was fantastic to visit my parents church. The new building was fabulous, but the people that make the church were even better. The church we attend here in Ct is great, but there is nothing like knowing so many of the large congregation and being greeted by them. I’m part of the family there. It’s a stark reminder of how much nicer everyone is in PA compared to New England. Sure, we have the ‘stand up and greet one another time’ here but in spite of my best intentions no real connections have been made through that. Yet, in five minutes at FBC we met a great couple, who I have no doubt we really would have become great friends if PA was still our home.

But thankfully, there is technology where I can live far away and connect to the people I left behind. It’s a real blessing. All of you who comment, like, message, and text me are appreciated more than you know.

I know I am very blessed by my life, my family, my husband, his and my jobs, and our house that we are working very hard to make it into a home, but the depth and breadth of our families, church connections, and dear dear friends makes it so very hard to leave. In fact, every time we come home, definitely including when we go to my in-laws and their church where I don’t have the connections I have at my parents, it’s hard. We struggle with not wanting to come home, because it makes the pain of leaving again so very fresh. I cry. I cry for the first ten minutes of the drive and then I’m ok. Bryan is of course much less emotional, and I try hard not to be upset, because I know this is where we are supposed to be, and I don’t want to burden Bryan down, worrying unnecessarily about me.

I’m happy to be with Bryan going back to our house. But that doesn’t mean I miss all of those in PA any less. It doesn’t mean I didn’t wish for those connections here. Because I do. It’s hard to know I’ve lived here a year and though there are some good connections, they aren’t the ones I left behind. I know it will take time, and prayers. Both of which I have been, and will continue to invest. We know this is where God wants us, even if we aren’t sure of why things are the way they are.

But don’t worry about me, even though this post wasn’t all happy, I really am ok. Even in the land of Bottled Sunshine, there has to be a few clouds, otherwise we’d never see a rainbow. My parents went through a similar time when they lived in Germany. Sure it’s a great place to live, and nice to travel and see the sights, but just like Pastor Jon said yesterday in church you need fellowship with God, and other believers equally. So we just need to work on our fellowship with others locally.

I wasn’t intending this post to be written like this, but me, and the few readers who like to keep up with our life in Ct, this post seems right. If you are the praying sort, and I pray you are! Would you pray for Bryan and me? Pray that we can make some deeper connections, pray we can get even more involved at church, and pray that even if connections like those we leave behind in PA every time we come home aren’t going to be made here that we can just keep moving on, with our chins up, satisfied that this is what God has for us? I appreciate you more than you know, and am so thankful for the ways we can interact and stay in touch.

Tomorrow I’ll be back with more home stuff.

Road Trip Survival

I survived Hurricane Sandy. In fact, rather than hunkering down in a safe place, I drove though it. Before you think I’m some crazy daredevil tempting fates let me explain.

In the past few months I moved to Connecticut. While here I clicked well with a girl from the area. A few weekends ago I drove her to the airport to fly to Nashville to interview for a job. It turns out she got it! The only problem was she needed to move down and had to drive her car. Her parents couldn’t help her out since they were going on a business trip so I offered. Unbeknownst to me there was a crazy storm chasing us down.

Friday night the 26th, my husband and I drove down to PA to see my family and celebrate my birthday. We had a great weekend and the plan had been that I would drive back to CT Sunday night with my husband and leave Monday morning to drive south with my friend. Thankfully the storm had us both freaked out. So instead of trying to leave Monday when all of the bridges were closed from eastern CT on through NYC we left PA late Sunday night. All told the drive was 16 hours. By the time my friend got to my parents house it was stormy, windy, rainy and dark. We decided we’d drive as long as we could Sunday night. So I piled into the driver’s seat of the Mini Cooper (yes that’s right. A mini cooper stuffed full of all her stuff with a roof rack that had almost a car’s worth of stuff on top, which I imagine looked quite comical) and off into the night we drove. We drove west and then south driving hundreds of miles through Pennsylvania, then Maryland, West Virgina, and finally Virginia where we stopped barely after midnight. Not only does long drives in a car make me sleepy, but driving in the dark does too. The poor mini was pushed around by the wind like it had a sail on top, thankfully we weighed so much (ok the stuff, not us two girls!) and sat so close to the ground we made it through just fine.

We fell asleep to the sounds of brake retarders on 18-wheelers and the wind howling around the hotel. The next morning we still had a 9 hour drive ahead of us that stretched through the Shenandoah valley where we were snowed on, and continued being snowed on up into the mountains.

Looking back I am so thankful we left when we did! If we would have left Monday I doubt we could have made it out of CT with the road closures, or if we had, I doubt we would have made it through New York. But if we had we certainly would have been stopped by the gusting winds, or the feet of snow that were dumped on our drive just hours behind our crossing. Luckily for us we had gotten a head start on Sandy. Even so, we had our wipers going a mile a minute, and our stops were only for necessities, we couldn’t risk getting caught up deeper in the storm. That huge monstrous storm was in our way the entire drive up and through the mountains until we were about an hour from the city of Nashville. Then suddenly the rain clouds disappeared, and in it’s place was a bright glowing sun, and the honks of rush-hour traffic. We’d made it!

(Forgive me that there are no pictures of driving through the Hurricane. I was a bit preoccupied with staying on the road, and when I was a passenger there wasn’t much to see beyond blinding rain and wind across the countryside!)

However, once there my worries weren’t over. I’d left my husband and a house we just bought in a shoreline town of CT where the sound grew several blocks, beaches were in the streets, power was out for days and people trapped in their homes. I left my family behind in PA where they are still without power and stuck with downed trees and will be for days to come. My parents house on the jersey shore had an entire island flooded and still under a state of emergency and nobody really knows what to expect when they get back to the island.

Of course all the airports were closed and even though I flew out on time from Nashville I hit delays and malfunctioning airline equipment on the way north.ย  I arrived safely in Providence two hours after I was supposed to be there, but my husband was there waiting and had a bouquet of roses for me. What a sweetheart. We belong in sentimental movies. Even though I’d heard voices of all my loved ones on the phone as first they called me to check on my safety, and then as I called them to check on the status of their situations finally seeing someones face was a relief!

In spite of the devastation and destruction that has hit the East Coast the only thing that really matters is the lives of the people effected, and the rest of it is just stuff. I’m just so thankful my family is ok and all in one piece! It was really hard being far away from everyone and knowing there was nothing I could do but pray. But I’m amazed how the community of people impacted by the storm can band together. My facebook feed is flooded with dear souls offering hot showers, a warm meal, a place to do laundry or even sleep in a warm house to those who are still without. These people warm my heart. I know who they are, and I know they are good loving people. But even so it gives me hope that ‘we’ can be snapped out of our selfish little bubbles to spread the cheer of the upcoming Thanksgiving season to those around us.

Today I am most thankful for the lives of all those spared who are so near and dear to my heart โค

Pottage Parmentier: Mashed Potato Soup

In my affinity for all things foodie-culture I am a bit obsessed with cookbooks. I read cookbooks. As if they are novels. I devour from from cover to cover trying to eek out everything I can from them in my challenge of preparing simply delicious amazing foods. 99% of the time I change the recipe with my own blends of spices, different cooking techniques, crazy ingredients for the heck of it. I can’t actually think of a recipe I have not changed in one way or another. All this to say that this is just a way of life, one of many creative expressions, not intended for the blog. However, after a scraped pot, third-party opinions, and a second batch made in less than 24 hours, this recipe must be shared. After all, as a good friend stated ‘Good potato soup is like mashed potatoes on steroids’.

I found it in my battered, worn, thrift store copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child.

Pottage Parmentier [Leek or Onion and Potato Soup]
2 quarts (serves 6-8 people) or in the case of me and my friends 5 people who didn’t have enough, simply because I wanted leftovers!

You will need two quarts of water in a large pot. To the water add 1lb. of peeled and sliced potatoes, and 1 lb. of diced onions(the recipe calls for peeks, or yellow onions, I obviously chose yellow onions but added an additional shallot on top of the pound of onions. Add 1 tb. salt (I eyeballed it and probably only put about 1 1/2 teaspoons in, and didn’t miss it). Let simmer for 45 minutes partially covered. It smells like onions for the first 20 minutes but it quickly dissipates once the onions breakdown in the soup, and it fooled even an onion-hater into eating 3 bowls full! (Hence why we needed more.)

Mash the potatoes and onions, or blend if an even consistency is preferred (I blended). Check the seasoning. (I didn’t do anything here and after I finished scraping the soup back into the pot I was actually tempted to lick the spatula clean like one does used to do with the cake batter. I guess you could have added salt or pepper or really anything else here but I thought it was practically heavenly)

Before serving bring back to a simmer. Add 4-6 tablespoons of cream (I used half-and-half since I had that on hand you can also use 3 tbs. of butter). Garnish with minced parsley or chives.

To fully portray the mashed potatoes in a cup idea I had bacon crumbles, cheddar cheese, and chives ready for my friends to add to their soups. Personally, I didn’t have to add anything.

This meal was a bargain. Water, onions, potatoes, and a little half and half. 4 tablespoons of fat in 2 quarts means this is one healthy and filling soup! Like I mentioned earlier once our friends decimated it we made a second batch that we are currently hoarding using for lunches this week.

It’s cheap, easy, and absolutely amazing. You will never want canned potato soup again. Gather some family or friends and enjoy!

Let me know if you give it a try!

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