Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Five: HGTV Edition

Will Smama says: Greetings all!

As some of you may know I am in the midst of my first home purchase. It is a new-build and so some of the fun was picking out upgrades and major decor items to my taste rather than walking into a previously owned home that needed to be upgraded room by room (pink and teal tiles in the bathroom, anyone?). As much as decorating is not my thing, I did try to embrace the moment because just how many times do you get to have a do-over on kitchen cabinets/floors/countertops?And so, my questions to you this fine Friday involve your home past, present or future...

1) If you could, what room in the place you are currently living would you redo first?
The master bathroom. I would tear out the tub and shower and put in a much larger shower stall with two shower heads, a place to sit, and, let's say, 13" blue/gray tile instead of the institutional-looking 6" white tile the builder installed. Then I'd replace the old tub with a whirlpool tub (the bathroom is already wired for one, but we couldn't afford such fancy options when we built this house). I'd probably have to give up some closet space for my great big shower stall, but it would be worth it.

2) What is the most hideous feature/color/decor item you have ever seen in a home?
We moved back to Texas from California in 1991, and began house hunting. Before we decided to build new in the 'burbs, we looked at lots of close-in homes from the 1950's and 1960's. Nothing in our price range had had many upgrades. The one that made the most lasting impression was the early '60's ranch house with the vivid royal blue shag carpet, and the fire-engine red kitchen cabinets...Then there was the house on which we actually made an offer (SO glad that didn't work out); the tile in one bathroom was bright pink, and in the other, lime green.

3) What feature do you most covet? Do you have it? If not, is it within reach?
We've been upgrading the kitchen little by little, and our Christmas present to each other was something I've wanted for years: a really nice gas range. The Scientist insisted that we get the model with the convection oven! I confess we haven't tried that out yet--but we will.

4) Your kitchen - love it or hate it? Why?
I love my kitchen. It's roomy, sunny, and there is a good flow from the work area to the breakfast area and the living room. As in every home, when we have a party, the kitchen is where people tend to gather, so I'm glad it's fairly large and open. We put in new tile and wallpaper about five years ago, added new window shades after that, and in the past few years have replaced all of the appliances except the refrigerator. This week we finished repairing the recent damage to the breakfast area, and were so thankful that we had JUST BARELY ENOUGH of the kitchen wallpaper that we still like! I wasn't looking forward to wallpapering the whole kitchen again!

5) Here is $10,000 and you HAVE to spend it on the place you are living now. What do you do?
Oh boy! See #1 above...or maybe I would finish the kitchen with solid granite countertops and real oak cabinets to replace the "oak" veneer cabinets that the builders installed.

BONUS: Why do you think there was such a surplus of ugly bathroom tile colors showcased in all homes built from the 1950's right through the early 80's?
Well, of course in those days, people didn't think bright pink, lime green, or turquoise were ugly colors for tile (or bathtubs and toilets!). They thought their tile was beautiful and very stylish. Even the earth tones from the 80's and 90's look kind of funny to us now. Wonder what people will think of our current decor in 20 years?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I love being married to a man who calls home to say, "I'm going to stop at Lowe's and pick up a new toilet, but I wanted to call it to your attention that there is a beautiful moon out."

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Cabin Fever Friday Five

Singing Owl has cabin fever, and reports:
Here in snow country we are settled in to what is a very long stretch of potentially boring days. The holidays are over. It is a very long time till we will get outside on a regular basis. The snow that seemed so beautiful at first is now dirty and the snow banks are piling up. Our vehicles are all the same shade of brownish grey, but if we go to the car wash our doors will freeze shut. People get grumpy. Of course, not everyone lives in a cold climate, but even in warmer places the days till springtime can get long. Help! Please give us five suggestions for combating cabin fever and staying cheerful in our monochromatic world?

Well. I admit that relating to this dilemma is not easy when today's forecast is "sunny and 78 degrees", and the camellias are in bloom. So I started thinking about what I like to do in mid-August, when it's 98 degrees outside with 90% humidity, and I hunker down in the house, thankful for central air conditioning:

1. Make a list of all the movies you've been wanting to see (having a Netflix queue helps, of course), and watch one or two per week.
2. Play your favorite music. Sing along, loudly.
3. Think of a meal that sounds interesting and delicious, and prepare it with your favorite kitchen assistant at your side. If you are so inclined, open a special bottle of wine to accompany it, not the everyday stuff. (Go ahead! What are you saving it for?)
4. Read, read, read. Nothing heavy, though; light fiction and travelogues are perfect.
5. This does NOT apply to me, but if you are crafty like Mindy, or love to sew, make something colorful and cheerful.

Well, it's supposed to be colder tomorrow, so I guess I should go out and pull weeds now. I'd rather stay inside!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Five: Take Me, Baby, or Leave Me

Thanks to Songbird for today's musical F5:

Although written by a young man, this song from "Rent" became an anthem for women of a certain age ready to be taken on their own terms. Maureen and Joanne love each other, but they are *very* different.

Whether it's new friends or new loves or new employers, what are five things people should know about you?

1. I like people, but I'm very introversive and I need a lot of alone time. Sometimes in groups that need overwhelms my social skills, and I can come across as aloof or even a bit odd. It's not about you. (well, maybe sometimes it is :)) Give me a little time alone and I'll be back, ready to have fun.

2. I love good food, creatively prepared, but I'm not an insufferable snob about it. I'll go eat wherever you want to go, but if you ask me where we should go I'll have a good suggestion. And if I offer to cook, take me up on it.

3. Psychology is my occupation, not my life. Please don't come up to me at a social gathering looking for free advice about your love life, your unruly child, or your family of origin. I'll be happy to give you a referral.

4. If I haven't had my coffee yet, approach at your own risk. Just one cup in the morning, but I need that one cup!

5. I'm a proud Southerner/Texan who can't imagine living north of the Mason-Dixon line. For one thing, folks talk funny up there. For another thing, I'd freeze!

Here's a bonus: I bet I can answer nearly any trivia question about American or British popular music, 1964-1974. Go on, try me!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend odds and ends

  • As we were sitting down for dinner on Friday night, the Scientist asked, "Why is the floor wet under this window?" Answer: because the 17-year-old toilet upstairs had suddenly outlived its usefulness and had begun to pour water down the wall. I called the insurance company, and within the hour two gentlemen appeared with enormous fans and dehumidifiers to assess the damage and begin drying it out. The fans are noisy, but we don't care. It appears that we caught it so soon, we may not lose any sheetrock. No claims adjuster as of yet, though.
  • I am reluctantly concluding that I need to go buy some doggie diapers for a forgetful little old lady with four legs, who has chosen the dining room as her new potty.
  • I am thankful that I have only some insignificant little First World problems such as these.
  • After I went and got us some kolaches (no pancakes after all, with the kitchen area in chaos), we took a break from all of the above to see an interesting exhibit at the Museum of Natural Science, The Birth of Christianity: A Jewish Story. Lots of ossuaries and other artifacts to delight the Scientist, and I also enjoyed the ancient manuscripts, including a section of Isaiah from Qumran and a number of NT texts, including one that included the last few verses of Ephesians, followed by the beginning of Galatians (instead of the other way around), and another with a little of the Gospel of John. The epistles text was the oldest of those NT manuscripts, dating to about 150-200 CE. We've seen some of the Dead Sea Scrolls before, but I think this was the first time we'd seen early NT manuscripts. A Saturday spent wandering through a museum, followed by dinner in town (seafood this time), is our favorite kind of Saturday.
  • Now I have to go work on the PNC's brochure that soon will introduce our new pastor to our congregation! Bye.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday Five: Pancakes

Thanks, Sophia, for a fun Friday Five!

1. Scratch or mix? Buttermilk or plain?
Scratch, always. The Scientist is my pancake chef extraordinaire, and always consults a recipe from an old Southern Living cookbook called Southern Country Cooking. The combination griddle/waffle iron we received at a kitchen shower 26 years ago is still going strong, and it gets a good workout. We use buttermilk whenever we can, but yogurt (maybe thinned with a little milk) is an adequate substitute.

2. Pure and simple, or with additions cooked in?
The simplest is the best...unless we happen to have some fresh blueberries!

3. For breakfast or for dinner?
Our favorite time for pancakes is Saturday brunch. Not every Saturday is leisurely enough for such a lovely and civilized meal, so the Saturdays that are, are special.

4. Preferred syrup or other topping? How about the best side dish?
I prefer honey, while the Scientist likes Lousiana cane syrup. We usually have either sausage patties or very crisp bacon alongside.

5. Favorite pancake restaurant?
I may have to surrender my foodie credentials for saying so, but I love to go to IHOP!

Bonus: Any tasty recipes out there, for pancakes or other special breakfast dishes? Bring 'em on!
An outstanding recipe for banana-caramel pancakes appeared in Bon Appetit about three years ago and can be found here. It is basically buttermilk pancakes with a banana mashed into the batter, then a sumptious syrup is made with bananas and brown sugar. It's like Bananas Foster over pancakes, only without the rum. (Rum pancake syrup? Interesting thought.) These pancakes are so special, we only (and always) make them on Christmas morning. You may wish to indulge sooner!

P.S. The Scientist just walked by and innocently asked, "What do you want for breakfast tomorrow?" What do you suppose I said?