Posts tagged Christmas

Undoing the sub-mediocre

My headline today is supposed to mean: There is quite a bit in my house done by previous owners that was less than good enough. However, while I’m fixing bad workmanship, I’m not going overboard. I’m certainly not putting the best-of-the-best into my house. It simply wouldn’t make sense financially. But my boyfriend and I are putting the best of our elbow grease into it. We’re doing the best we know how, and sometimes I call in the professionals.

electrical outlet


Check out this electrical outlet in the guest bedroom, for example. This is how all the outlets were in that room. As I was repainting the room, you could tell it had been painted many different colors in the past. But don’t you think this is the very highest level of laziness, to just paint over the outlets to the point you can’t use them?

I think it’s despicable. I called in the electrician, who has replaced many of these, and installed them the right side up, to boot.

Also, I believe it was Christmas Eve 2010 when I painted many of my closets. The living room closet was the most gratifying. You can see the closet here, closed of course. I didn’t get before and after photos, which I’m still angry about today. But I do believe that closet had never been repainted since 1964. Coating it with fresh paint was akin to… well… something I can’t compare it to now, but just a whole new feeling of refreshment and rejuvenation. Ahhhh….


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Unwanted: Christmas Eve fowl

This Christmas Eve is quite different from Christmas Eve 2010 in a couple ways. Number one: We have zero snow on the ground. Number two: There isn’t a bird flying around my house.

Living room

One of my favorite purchases from Hobby Lobby ever.

I had been living here for mere days, and was getting dressed up to head to Christmas Eve church service.

I was in my bedroom when I heard a loud bang. Like something crashed through my living room window.

I stepped out from the bedroom and saw a little brown bird frantically flying around my living room.

I freaked out. Just freaked out. I ran back into my bedroom and closed the door.

I knew this was not a killer bird, but it was losing its mind with fright. I called my boyfriend, who patiently listened and said, “Well, you’re gonna to have to shoo it outside. I don’t know what else to tell you.”

It was time to put on my big girl pants and shoo a wild bird. I cracked open the door to see the little bird hopping down my hallway. I slammed the door shut. I needed protection. That’s when I remembered some older drapes that hadn’t been hung, but were in my living room. I realized if I could get to them, I could drape them over my head.

I darted out, got the drapes, and darted back into my room. I put the drapes over my head and shoulders, crouched down, and headed out for combat.

I didn’t know where the bird was at this point, but I opened my front door. Can you imagine the sight my neighbors had at that point?

I then chased the bird from my kitchen, back to my living room, and eventually out the front door.

We all speculated about how the bird got into my house. I walked around my entire basement to see if there was an unknown nest somewhere. Nothing. We eventually decided it had flown in through my garage when I was moving presents into my car.

But it would be months later when we finally found the truth. You’ll have to watch this blog for later posts on that.

Nonetheless, here’s a shot of my living room today. All painted, furnished and decorated. Yes, I had that leather couch here when the bird was here. No droppings anywhere that day.

Living room

You'll note Christmas decor hanging on my floor lamp. Also, the blinds are my work and will be documented later.

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What if I don’t need a house?

This Christmas, I received a Kindle. Right away, I subscribed to The New York Times. With all newspapers that have cut a deal with Amazon, you get a free two-week trial subscription. I figured that was enough time to decide whether or not I want to pay $13.99 a month. (I have decided I do.)

On January 7, 2010, The New York Times ran a story about men who aren’t so happy they bought a house. Several of the homeowners in the story decided to move back into an apartment.

Now, I realize that buying a house has never been a great investment. But I always figured the satisfaction of owning your own home (AND NOT HAVING TO DEAL WITH WALL-TO-WALL NEIGHBORS) would make up for any hardship when it comes to maintenance, etc. According to the excellent story by Michael Tortorello, not so.

Here are two short excerpts:

Eighteen months after moving in, Mr. Berks and his wife took drastic action: They dumped their house (managing to break even), sold almost everything in it, loaded up their Subaru and drove to Honduras for a six-month adventure. Mr. Berks said he would not recommend that solution to every homeowner. He and his wife are back in Minneapolis now, in a rental in the Uptown neighborhood, within strolling range of restaurants, bookstores and coffee shops. But looking back, he wonders why so many friends encouraged him to buy a house. “I understand why the government or society wants people to have homes,” he said — they fix them up, and their commitment stabilizes neighborhoods. “I get it, the whole beneficial aspect of homeownership. But individually, I’m not seeing it as a moral good.” As it turns out, Mr. Berks is not alone in his disdain. For reasons practical, financial and definitely emotional, there seems to be a growing cohort of men like him who are falling out of love with the holy institution of homeownership.

As a business consultant for start-up ventures, Kirt Greenburg, 41, roams widely from his base in Atlanta. But the frustrations with his 3,300-square-foot colonial revival house, where he lives alone, follow him everywhere. Mr. Greenburg, by his own account, is a “methodical, list-oriented person,” and his laptop is full of spreadsheets that document what’s wrong with the house. He started his first file in 2002, before he closed on the cedar shake house on a tree-covered acre. The electrical, plumbing and heating systems needed an overhaul; the roof leaked. Mr. Greenburg expected that the repair bill would run $60,000, maybe $70,000. The new Quicken file he clicks open, though, shows he has spent $130,000 (a sum that includes a new kitchen and a complete paint job). And the place still isn’t fixed to his satisfaction. He clicks on another spreadsheet that tallies the unfinished repairs, room by room. There are closet floors to patch, sand and finish. There’s a basement crawl space to weatherproof. “There have been a lot of times when I haven’t wanted to go home at all,” Mr. Greenburg said. “Because home reminds me of all the things I need to get done. It’s not an escape for me.”

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Disgusting discovery beneath the snow

I’ve chosed the category “True crime” for this post because littering is a crime.

The view out my window on December 27, 2009.

A couple days after the Christmas Blizzard of 2009, the wind slowed and the air temperature warmed.

I had a pretty big snow bank on my balcony. I decided to fetch the snow shovel from my garage and move the snow off my balcony.

As you already know from this post, I first had to move the snow from the front of my garage. I was sweating pretty good. But it was a good feeling, to get moving after being locked inside for days.

The snow on my balcony was dense: each shovelful was like lifting a barley-filled pillow instead of lifting a feather pillow.

When I got down to the bare boards of my balcony, I couldn’t believe it. A cigarette butt. I do not smoke and nobody who visits me smokes. As long as I have lived in this apartment, nobody has ever smoked on my balcony.

I didn’t find just one cigarette butt. I found three. I believe my next door neighbors have been throwing their butts onto my balcony! It wouldn’t have happened by accident. I only regret I didn’t take a picture.

So I purposely threw several shovelfuls of snow onto their balcony. Happy New Year!

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