Archive for September, 2010

stepping back: six month check-in

It’s been six months since I got the keys, and things are coming together. Not always the way I imagined in my mind, but that’s okay – it’s still great. For instance: I’ve only had one major mechanical failure, and the basement stayed mostly dry during last week’s record-breaking rain. I have just three more rooms to paint, and there’s functional furniture in all the necessary places. I finally have the DVD player hooked up to the TV. Maybe someday I’ll even get an antenna.

But overall, it’s home. And it’s amazing. Thanks to all of you who have lent a hand in helping me over the last six months. Truly, I couldn’t have done it without you.


dancing in the street

I was all settled, tucked into bed. But the music wouldn’t stop. Trumpets, trombones… I could even hear a tuba. Not too loud, but loud enough that it kept waking me up every time I started to fall asleep.

“Am I imagining it?” I wondered. “Is one of my neighbors just playing their stereo too loud?”
Nothing to see out my window. Sigh. Back to bed.
Louder, now. Can’t sleep. Slippers on, alarm off. Out the front door — following the music.
Down the block and across the street: a brass band. People dancing quietly in the street. This is no party, that is obvious. But something.
I watched for a while, and listened. Pajamas but no jacket, a light rain on and off. Finally someone from the circle of dancers turned toward me, and I asked, “what is happening here?”
“It’s the Brass Messengers. They knew Ethan.”
It takes her a few moments to comprehend my blank stare.
“The man who was killed in the accident. You know. And the Brass Messengers.”
I’m sorry, I don’t know. I work out of town; I’m not home much. What happened?
“The car accident. It’s been in the paper.”
Oh. I only get the Strib on Sundays.
“It’s a memorial concert, I guess. A remembrance.”
Which explains the subdued but emotion-filled music. The long trombone solos and the eerie melodies. I understand, now.
“I’m new to the neighborhood,” I explain, “but I heard the trumpets, and I followed them here.” She tells me all about the group, and about the accident. He had the right of way, but the other car never stopped. I saw the wreckage this morning on the way to work without realizing its significance — a brick sign and garden planter for a neighborhood church, smashed to pieces. It caught my eye, and I remember thinking “if they haven’t seen it yet, someone is about to have a bad day.” But I didn’t know it involved a neighbor.
The music and dancing went on for a while. Not raucous dancing. More just swaying and holding hands. Dancing for comfort.
I walked home when the music ended, thinking about what it means that a group of neighbors spent their evening dancing in the street in honor of one of their own. I think I’m lucky to live here.

Junk Bonanza

This was in town this weekend. They say it’s the largest juried junk/antiques show in the Midwest. I’ve been hearing about it for months, and when Megan and I saw discounted admission tickets on Groupon last weekend, we snatched them.

That’s how we found ourselves drinking Bloody Mary’s and sorting through bins of old buttons, stamps and puzzle pieces at 10:30 am on a Saturday.
But oh was it ever worth it.
Hydrangeas – and good ideas – everywhere we looked. (Really – I lost count of how many sellers had dried hydrangeas out. And they were gorgeous.)
And I came home with a few prizes, too. First, a pair of knives that are an almost-perfect match to my current set (I’ve given up on matching them exactly). I just adore wide knives like these. So hard to find at reasonable prices, too.

Then, a fun little Wedgewood bowl (just larger than a teacup, and infinitely cuter because of the two handles). It’s already at home in my bedroom, patiently holding the jewelry I cast off as I went to bed last night. I’m guessing that won’t ever change.
A key/coat hook made of old trim (the kind that is in most houses built c. 1900, but for some reason, not mine.)

And, last but not least, the coolest bud vases I’ve ever found:
Made of old silverware and suction cups, I immediately pictured them in my kitchen window.

Where they now happily reside with some Black Eyed Susans from the garden.

Overall, a great day at the Junk Bonanza. I’m so excited about the things I found even though they’re just odds and ends. If I’d been in the market for a handmade dining room table, antique chandelier, beautifully distressed dresser or one-of-a-kind buffet, I could have done some major damage. But luckily for my wallet, my house is much too small for any more big furniture 🙂 So, small things it is. But I still hope it comes back next year….

– LG

a more functional office

It’s a tiny – and strange – office, that’s true. Awkwardly shaped. Has a wall with three doors leading to the same storage area. Unpainted floor and orange-yellow walls.
But, it has lots of potential. Like a great corner desk that the previous owner left behind:
And now, it has some new shelves.
Instead of a filing cabinet, I chose an IKEA shelf that holds five filing boxes. And for general storage, this fun bookshelf. They fill the wall leading into the office from the basement TV room.
It has to be a highly efficient workspace, since my mom and I will be sharing it when she comes to town. So, lots of storage boxes, labels and baskets.

Still a work in progress but so far so good.

under-the-stairwell magic

Situation: storage closet under the basement stairs. Three doors (all access points for different appliances) but not a lot of room for storing boxes.
So far, I haven’t used the space for anything other than the cans of paint that the previous owners left. (Sorry – didn’t think to take a photo of that gem.) A serious waste of space.
To the rescue: customized InterMetro shelving from The Container Store. Three sets of rolling shelves to fit under the stairwell. Like this:
Luckily, the shelves were the perfect width for the under-the-stairs nook, and we had the posts cut to fit according to the height at each level. All we had to do was assemble the shelves, add the wheels and roll them into the closet.
Ta-da! They’re perfect. And did I mention 25% off? Thank you, annual shelving sale.

couch in the basement!

Make that couch AND ottoman. Victory.
Okay, so it was kind of a saga at IKEA last week. I’d been putting off the decision of what size couch to get … full-size sofa, loveseat or some sort of combo with a chaise lounge. And then there was the color decision. White? Light blue? Funky pattern with blue, white and green?
In the end, I didn’t really have to make any decisions. IKEA and my basement made them for me. The sofa was too big, and the loveseat-chaise combo wasn’t available. Light blue cover available for sofa, but not loveseat. Green in the patterned cover clashed with the wall paint. So…
White loveseat it is.
I did get the exact ottoman I wanted, though. Dark brown leather with a removable cover for storage inside. Per.fect.

And just in case you’ve ever wondered what an unassembled couch looks like:
The basement is still a bit messy, but it’s definitely coming together. Next step: a TV antenna and cords for my DVD player so I can actually sit back and relax on the new couch 🙂

rearranging the living room


Cozier. Comfier. Better view out the window. And – surprisingly – more room for additional furniture. Who would have thought?
Now I just have to pick the paint color. Which will most assuredly take five times as long as moving the furniture around. Because isn’t that always the way it goes?

the last boxes

I’m officially moved out of my family’s house in California. And for the first time in six years, all my worldly belongings are in one place. Amazing. And strange. Mostly amazing.
As it turned out, I was only in Davis for about 36 hours, and most of that was spent cleaning out my old room and packing the trailer. I moved most of my belongings to Minnesota three years ago, but this trip was for all the other miscellaneous furniture & boxes that are too fragile to be shipped, plus the stuff my brother is bringing out to Minnesota for college. Here are some highlights:

This is me, packing the red glassware that mom gave me. Take a wild guess as to where it’s going.
A favorite find: a box of childhood momentos, including this charming nightgown (which now fits over my fist and that’s about it) and some awesome photo frames, complete with lace and pearls. The sad thing is that stuff was THE BEST when I was five and living in Texas. I know. You should have seen me and Lissa (a good high school friend who happened to be in town visiting her parents, and helped me pack): doubled over in laughter as we perused the box and ruthlessly threw out all the junk. These gems made the cut, although they’ll likely just sit in a box in the basement of the new place…

Here are my dad and brother (and Lissa peeking through the stairs) – they were moving my secretary desk from my bedroom upstairs to the trailer in the garage. Mom’s parents bought the desk as an antique when she was a girl, and Nana painted it green for a while in the 70s. Thankfully my grandpa stripped it back to the original wood in the early 80s, just before my parents moved from Minneapolis to San Antonio. This desk (as well as the Civil War bed and a number of other random things I’ve inherited) has now traveled a complete circle around the country: Minneapolis to San Antonio to Davis, CA and now back to Minneapolis, just a few miles from where my mom grew up. Scary? Just a little.
The trailer, in the midst of packing.
Then, leaving the California house for our cross-country road trip.
On the road.
So even though I’ve technically been on vacation the last two weeks (betcha couldn’t tell from my copious blogging, eh?), it’s been busy with packing, traveling, unpacking and working on house projects while I had my parents in town. My basement has become just as messy and full of boxes as it was when I first moved into the house in May – but this time, I know there are no more coming after them. They’re the last boxes. Those words sound so, so sweet to my ears. And my sore shoulders.
Exhaustion aside, we made lots of progress over the last few days. I’ll be sharing photos and updates soon for the basement, office, living room and the yellow room. Meanwhile, I’m just enjoying being back at home. Minnesota and this house, both. Home sweet home.