Wednesday, April 29, 2009

odd allergies

Brad visited an allergist yesterday and endured a series of 20-30 pricks in his arm to investigate potential allergies. Although he will receive the formal test results later in the week, the doctor informally concluded that he is allergic to at least four things: dogs, cats, dust mites, and .....

cockroaches.

Yes, cockroaches.

I am the first to admit that I know nothing about allergies. I broke out in hives from penicillin once, but other than the occasional sinus headache during spring and fall weather changes, I have no understanding of the discomfort that people with allergies experience. But still. Have you heard heard of someone being allergic to cockroaches?!

I'm not a pet person anyway, so Brad's allergies just confirm that we will never be pet owners. I fight a constant battle with dust, especially since we moved into a house floored almost entirely in hard woods. And if we ever develop a roach problem, well, let's just say that despite Brad's allergies, I will run out of the house faster than he will.

Roaches and I do not get along. Brad apparently doesn't take to them either.

Monday, April 27, 2009

a lively kitchen

The house is far from ready, but I will post pictures over the next few months as I (mostly) complete rooms and beautify the yard. Because I (voluntarily) spend most of my time in the kitchen when I am home, this room immediately became my first priority to finalize. Plus, Brad and I quickly tired of eating out during our move, and we both longed for home-cooked meals, which meant that we needed a functioning kitchen. I'm proud to say that in only three weeks, my unofficial catering service is up and running as I've already made several dishes for events and I plan to make a meal tonight to deliver to a family from church who just had a baby.

The kitchen's original wall color was a very, very light gray, which I thought looked like a dirty white. Even though the kitchen boasted granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, the dirty-looking wall color made a potentially beautiful room nondescript at best. I longed for life in the kitchen! I think that it's an understatement to say that the kitchen now lives!

I chose a fun, bright fun green (appropriately named pesto), with an accent wall in a more neutral color (harvest brown, the same color that we used in the living room). I have to admit that I already leaned toward green when I solicited paint color ideas for the kitchen, but I completely appreciate the assurance that I received in the responses! I love how the kitchen turned out.

Here is the view as I walk from the dining room into the kitchen. Notice the neutral wall on the right (which is visible from the dining room). We needed a neutral color to transition from a bold-colored dining room (that was already painted a color that I love) to another bold-colored room. The door on the left of the picture leads into the half bathroom. The back door opens onto our deck and leads into the back yard.


Here is a closer view of the main part of the kitchen. Notice the shelves on the right edge of my cabinet that I filled with tiny houseplants! I drew inspiration from my friends who have used FLOR tiles and created my own area rug.


Here is a closer view of the rug. It's hard to tell from this picture, but it really pulls the green and brown walls together with the black and gray tones of the counter tops and appliances. All of these hues are present in the needlepoint stitch design (color = laurel).

Here is the view as I stand with my back at the rear door of the house. How I love using appliances that actually work well!


Here is a second shot of the view from the back door. The door at the back of the picture leads to the basement. The open doorway is the entrance to the dining room, and the door on the right leads into the half bathroom. The one thing that our house does not have is a coat closet, but the sellers left us a nifty rack in the kitchen that holds 4-6 coats (you can see several spring jackets displayed).


Of course, most tasks are never quite finished. I still plan to add a simple valance at the top of the kitchen window and possibly a piece of art over the refrigerator (but the art in this spot is really my last priority... I have too many other blank walls to fill first!).

I am mostly posting these pictures for my out-of-town readers. Local readers, I still expect you to come over to see everything in person! I promise to issue an invitation very soon.

Friday, April 24, 2009

a stunning realization

Someone just helpfully reminded me that the marathon is only five weeks away. And I have not run farther than 12 miles since March 21st!!! But tomorrow... tomorrow, Lord willing, I tackle the big 20. I will rise early so that I can get a solid 3.5 - 4 hours of running in (yes, that's how long it will probably take me) before picking up my friend Jenny from the metro at 11:40 a.m. and then heading to book club at noon. I claim a spot on the comfy couch at book club! Be forewarned though, that once I sink into those cushions tomorrow afternoon, I may not be able to rise again for quite some time.

Right now, I look forward to the long run. The weather forecast promises beautiful conditions. I will run early in the morning before it gets too hot. I long for some uninterrupted quiet time and I should get plenty of it tomorrow. There's a chance though, that I'll feel a little differently when the alarm sounds at 5 a.m. on a Saturday. But once my feet hit the pavement, every mile is one step closer to the finish line. Rest assured that I will most definitely be counting down.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

connected to the real world again

I have a bad habit of writing entries about the status of certain projects or efforts, and then failing to communicate any and all resolutions. My most exciting news today is that we finally have TV and Internet at the house. After two visits on Monday evening of last week, our fourth DIRECTV rep finally set everything up correctly. For those who were keeping track, it took four different service reps, eight scheduled visits (seven appointments where the rep showed up eventually, only one complete no show), two full days off of work to wait for reps during our "time window", and myriad hours spent on the phone with supervisors recounting our woes. We will enjoy the $20+ off of our bill each month for the next year. We've earned it.

Thanks to Brad and his dad, we now have our new desk and chair set up in the office, which means that we finally connected to the Internet this past weekend! I still can't access my work server from the new house, but hey, maybe that's a hint that I should stop trying to mark work-related tasks from my to-do list while I'm at home.

Friday, April 17, 2009

art challenged

Today marks the 12th day in our new house and Brad and I continue to stare at bare walls, which violates my previous 24-hour rule regarding picture hanging.

Part of my problem is that I feel like every single piece of "art" that we had in our old place is so, I don't know, so juvenile. I loved the pieces when I chose them as a young and single 20-something living in Chicago. After I finished college and started my first job, I proudly purchased a few nicely framed prints to "graduate" from the taped-to-the-wall posters that defined my childhood. And even my meager collection trumped Brad's art, should you dare to call it that, which basically consisted of a shrine to Vols football. I immediately displaced said shrine from above our bed and the fireplace when I became Brad's wife. I said, "I do" to him, but "I don't" to the football pictures above the bed, especially the one in the bright orange frame. Every girl has her limits!

So back to my quandary. I'm not that young and single 20-something any longer. I've outgrown my prints. Brad and I would like to purchase some pieces for our new home. But what is our taste? Where do we look, especially on a budget? And when do we have time to develop and define our preferences? Dear readers, any suggestions?

I do have a few ideas. I'd like to get an oil painting made of our old place, and one of our new house. I plan to enlarge and frame a few of our better photos from our Europe trip. Courtesy of Daily Candy and Etsy today, I discovered a wonderful local artist who produces a cool "city love" line of prints that boast cute scenes from some of our favorite cities. But I have much wall space to fill, especially in the living room.

I'm trying to counter my urge to be settled quickly (meaning: pictures on the walls) with some deep and critical thought about our tastes and how they may change over the years. I can't afford to go through this every decade.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

squatting at its best

I am starting to wonder when our house will really feel like it belongs to us. Since we received the keys 16 days ago and we moved 9 days ago, we have kept ourselves busy every single minute outside of our real jobs with moving, unpacking, and home improvement projects. Right now I feel as though I'm working my tail off to prepare a lovely home for the owners, whoever they are and whenever they eventually return from wherever they went. Living with freshly painted walls and updated kitchen appliances that actually work well feels a little unusual. And I can't completely shake the feeling that I'm snooping around someone else's house as I explore every nook and cranny of the place as we unpack and store our belongings.

I've jumped back on the running horse this week, and as I pass our old block and apartment on my way to Lincoln Park in the mornings, I can't help but think of how much that area feels like home to me. We only moved about seven blocks away, but I do miss our old block sometimes. Although we were the lowly renters, living among physicians, lawyers, and professors boasting about their million-dollar homes, we loved it there. Our block now consists of a more eclectic crowd, but I hope to get to know our new neighbors better very soon. Once I finally believe that the house really belongs to us.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

longing for the finish line

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: moving and marathon training don't mix.

The last two weeks have been awful as in terms of running. Ever since we got the keys to the house on March 29th, we've immersed ourselves in painting, cleaning, moving, and shopping for the essentials. I'm one of those people who unpacks immediately after returning home from a trip simply because I like all of my belongings in their proper places and I hate living out of suitcases or boxes. So I'm always a little manic about unpacking after I move. Every time I moved in college, I was usually completely unpacked and had pictures hanging on the walls within 24 hours.

After spending ALL of the first weekend in April painting the living room and kitchen, we dreaded running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on April 5th because we had blown off running all week. But I'm so glad that we did it! The weather was beautiful, blossoms abounded, and my friend Renee and I kept a great pace. I ran the race in 1:32:13 (9:13/mile pace), my personal best for this particular race. I credit the 10, 12, 14, and 17 mile runs that I had completed in the last six weeks for building my stamina, especially with little sleep and feeling somewhat high on paint fumes.

But this past weekend, I was supposed to run the dreaded 20 miles, and I did something that I've never done before for a long run: I blew it off.

Of course, I expressed a million excuses. Brad is experiencing knee problems, and there was no way that he could run that far. It was raining steadily. And it was a cold rain, not the warm summer rain that I love. Boxes were about to take over the house. The third bedroom longed for paint. I hadn't run all week. All in all, I did not feel physically or mentally prepared. Had I have gone anyway, I am 100% certain that it would not have gone well. But I still can't believe that I bailed on a long run!

So this means that I need to rework my training schedule and find another Saturday that I can devote to the preparation, task, and recovery associated with 20-mile runs. Good luck!

Monday, April 13, 2009

the saga continues...

... with DIRECTV, that is.

I'm convinced that Brad is not meant to watch TV in our new house. In my opinion, it's worked out fine thus far because he's had no distractions from painting and unpacking and has been very productive. But his patience (and mine... and I don't even watch TV!) is quickly wearing thin with this company. As of my last update, we had experienced an incompetent technician with no ladder on Monday of last week and that same technician failed to show up last Wednesday, which meant two days off of work that resulted in no progress with our cable installation. Brad spent over two hours on Thursday on the phone with DIRECTV, and after threatening to cancel our service, was oh-so-gently (ha!) reminded that we committed to a two-year contract when we switched to the high definition package a little over one year ago.

Late Friday afternoon, a different technician showed up, but thought that it was a normal service call and not an installation, so he didn't have the proper equipment and couldn't do anything. It rained all day on Saturday, so no one could come out and by the time the bad weather passed, all of the technicians were too busy with other orders. Brad's cell phone rang at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning and a DIFFERENT technician (keep in mind, our third thus far) said that he was on his way (Really? On Easter Sunday?). After about an hour of no evident progress, we asked the technician if he could come back later in the afternoon so that we could leave for church. He promised to come back after 3:30 p.m. By 7 p.m., no one had showed up and it was getting dark. After many frustrating conversations with supervisors, a FOURTH technician showed up at 7:30 p.m. and began working. Luckily, he wore a hat with a light so that he see when he climbed up to our roof, but he forgot the cable for the high definition feature and he needs to fix a few other things that don't work. Supposedly he will return tonight after work. I'll believe it when I see it.

DIRECTV hires local contractors to perform the actual service calls, so each entity places the blame for the miscommunication and general incompetence on the other group. Brad has spoken to so many supervisors that we'll now enjoy $21/month off of our service for the next year. But the moral of the story is:

Do not use DIRECTV.

The irony to this story is that I originally posted the first entry about this issue last Thursday hoping that DIRECTV conducted daily Internet scans and that my post would solicit some sympathy, and more importantly, some ACTION. Want to know what I received instead?

A spam email from DIRECTV soliciting new customers and advertising great deals.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

two marines and a truck

Thanks to a recent Daily Candy post, I found a phenomenal moving company. Located in Northern Virginia, Two Marines and a Truck is just what it advertises: retired marines who will help you move.

We had a wonderful move with this company. Three strong men (two who just got out of the Marines) showed up with a moving truck 20 minutes early on Monday morning and got to work right away. Here are a few of the many reasons why I would highly recommend them:
  1. They arrived early. I often hear so many people complain that movers are usually late. Not in this case.
  2. They started working immediately and worked hard the entire time. We never witnessed any of the men playing around or purposely taking longer than necessary.
  3. All three of them communicated with us well and kept us constantly apprised of the time line.
  4. The company did not charge for travel time to our apartment or in between our apartment and our house. We also were not charged for any breaks that the men took, including a lunch break. Most other companies that I called charged for travel time.
  5. It took slightly over five hours for the move, but they only charged us for five hours. I think that most other companies would have rounded up instead of down.
  6. This quote was the cheapest I obtained, by at least $200. (I called four companies for quotes.)
  7. They managed to get our couch out of our apartment with few problems.
  8. Two of the men have served in Iraq twice, and they told us about their experiences there and in the military. They were so friendly and fun to work with! Brad and I were thrilled to support these soldiers while they transition to the next step in their careers.
If you know anyone moving, please spread the word!

no computer, and no tv

Brad and I really are living in the dark ages these days. Not only are we without the Internet right now at home, DIRECTV has let us down TWO times now. Poor Brad didn't get to watch the college basketball championship on Monday night and he's been deprived of Mike and Mike in the morning all week. He's going to miss the Masters golf tournament this weekend if DIRCTV doesn't get on the ball.

The DIRECTV service person showed up on Monday afternoon. He forgot to bring a ladder with him (seems to be a reoccurring theme among our technicians, doesn't it?) and our ladder wouldn't work for him (yes, we finally bought our own ladder). After making himself quite comfortable in our living room chair for about two hours while he watched us move in, he finally left, promising to return promptly on Wednesday at noon.

Brad took the day off of work on Wednesday to receive our furniture deliveries (more on this later - so exciting!) and to wait for the DIRECTV rep to resurface. The man called at 11:30 a.m. saying that it would now be 2 p.m., not noon. And he called again at 3:30 p.m., promising "within the hour". That hour came and went. The man never showed, nor called. He stood us up completely.

I don't know why we give this company our business. I can't recall a positive, efficient experience with DIRECTV's service personnel. And now they've wasted two days of Brad's precious time off. Brad loves their high definition package, but I'm ready to take our business elsewhere. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

life without the internet: does it exist?

Can anyone tell me how Verizon is so backed up that it takes a month to get an appointment to set up the Internet at a new house? Brad called in mid March and the earliest date that they could give us is April 15th!

We have to live in the house for nearly ten days without an Internet connection! What will I do with myself?

Oh yeah. Unpack.

Monday, April 6, 2009

farewell

Today, Brad and I say goodbye to our beloved two bedroom, two bathroom, top floor apartment with a rooftop deck, only five houses from the corner of Lincoln Park. We're overjoyed to finally buy a home on Capitol Hill, a longtime dream for us. But we know that we will miss this place. It has treated us so well, and as a result, we stayed here longer than we ever thought we would.

We'll certainly miss the location, deck, skylights, and inexpensive, static rent. But our attachment to this place runs much deeper than amenities. The memories from our first six years and ten months of marriage while living in this apartment will live in our hearts forever. We began our life as a married couple in this apartment. We learned how to reside peacefully together in a very small space. We have spent the last six years and ten months never more than 25 feet from each other when we're both home! What on earth will we do with different levels in the new house? (I'm sure that we'll adjust quickly.)

We laughed here. We loved here. We cried here. But most importantly, we spent thousands of hours just here. Together. I was with Brad when he found the apartment nearly nine years ago. And I moved in when we married two years later and this lovely place became mine too. Neither of us have lived at one location this long, except for our parents' houses. To say that we've become a little attached to it is an understatement.

We're moving less than one mile away, and we'll be back often, as we still plan to run around Lincoln Park in the mornings to see our park walker friends. I know that as I run by each morning, I'll gaze up at our apartment windows and hope that the new residents take delight in the apartment as we did and that they are as happy there as we were.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

overly optimistic

When I posted my painting plan this morning, I now know that all of you experienced painters chuckled at my naivete. Could you tell that I'd never really painted before? I had NO idea how long it would take!

Brad and I managed to prime the living room and the kitchen, and then paint one coat in the living room. I hope that tomorrow evening/night, we'll finish the living room and paint the first coat in the kitchen. We had to hold off on the half bathroom as our floors upstairs are still drying, and we can't use the upstairs bathroom until they are finished, so we need the half bathroom to be accessible and usable. It's okay, though. We had no time for the half bath anyway.

Our two-hour visit to the DC DMV this afternoon didn't help at all. We expected the DMV to be less crowded if we went during the middle of the work day, and even though the crowd seemed manageable when we arrived, it still took them TWO HOURS to print out a new driver's license for each of us that listed our new address (even without a new picture!). It was ridiculous. DC government at its finest. And I am a proud resident.

On another note, happy 200th post!!

a nascent painter

My wall painting career officially begins in about 15 minutes. I cannot WAIT to see how this goes!

Brad and I hope to paint three rooms today: the living room, kitchen, and half bathroom. Oh, and run a few errands too. I'll report back later to let you know what we actually accomplished.

Thanks again for all of the advice! I have used bits and pieces from pretty much everyone. And my "paint" folder, thick with your suggestions, has served me well on my Home Depot trips this week.