Saturday, January 30, 2010

Potty Talk Two

So, the bad thing about having a week between deciding on the new bathroom layout and the date the order could be placed for the cabinets and vanity top is that we had a week to think about things. I discussed our decisions with a real estate agent because I was still in shock over the "we aren't selling many dual sink vanities anymore" comment by the three bathroom designers. The realtor concurred that since we have a second full bath on the second floor, we could go either way with it. But she thought that the "knee hole" for sitting to put on make-up was too dated a look. Crap - the last thing I want to do is date a new bathroom! So back to the drawing board we went.

Our sales woman was already booked with a 9:00 when the doors opened this morning, so we had another woman help us. That actually ended up to be a good thing because she looked at the layout through a different set of eyes. I really loved her suggestion about building drawers into the wall to store the linens. We were going to buy a second cabinet to match the one under the sink and recess it into the wall. The drawers are way more functional and will fit the character of the house better, I think. Whether that solution ends up to be more or less expensive remains to be seen.

We pulled the trigger and placed the order. The photo shows the cabinet we selected, and the mirror above will actally be a tri-fold medicine cabinet. We selected a medium cherry finish to lighten it up just a little, but will have the same color Silestone vanity top as is shown here. The cabinet and matching medicine cabinet will take about two weeks, as will the vanity top. Apparently the tub we selected may be on that same timetable. I thought the contractors were coming a week from Monday, but Jim just informed me they will be here this Tuesday. I hope they have enough work to do to keep them busy until the stuff we had to order arrives. All I need is for them to get pulled off to another job. Since this is the bathroom I use, I don't want this to drag out for months.

Now I guess I know what I will be doing this weekend - emptying out the linen closet that will be removed, the cabinet under the sink, and my closet as that is where the new drawers will go. Sounds like spring cleaning will come early to my house!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You Can't Go Home Again

Especially if the home is no longer there. Today I went to see if I could find the house my mom and dad lived in while my dad was stationed at Jefferson Barracks. I have a picture of the house, and even though I don't have the exact address my dad had indicated that it was on Perrin near Notre Dame High School. A quick Mapquest review showed that Perrin is not a very long road, so not having a house number shouldn't be a problem.

The house was no longer there, however. There are several lots with no houses on them at all, so perhaps one of those is where the house once stood. I could see Jefferson Barracks from the area, and I wondered if dad walked there each day?

I decided to drive through the cemetery since the day was sunny, if not warm. There were two funerals taking place that I came across. I went to the highest part of the cemetery and got out of my car to look around. Though I have visited Arlington National Cemetery a couple of times, I have never visited Jefferson Barracks before. It was really sobering to realize that each of those stones represents someones past; a life lived and now gone. As I drove out the gates of the cemetery, a funeral procession was heading in. And so the cycle continues...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

We Came, We Saw, We Kicked Butt!

Katie went back to college this morning, as classes resume on Monday. We dropped her at the MegaBus at 8:15 and then grabbed a bite to eat before heading to Henry Plumbing at 9:00 when the doors opened. We perused the showroom for a bit, and then hooked up with a salesperson to narrow down some choices. She was great, and on top of that had recently remodeled her own bathroom of a similar size. She threw a wrench into my design by proclaiming that dual sink vanities are out. What!!! That's the first thing every couple on HGTV is looking for in a bathroom! She tapped into two other salespeople who concurred - they rarely sell the dual bowls. Instead she suggested doing the same size vanity top that we were thinking of and having one bowl and a knee hole, I think she called it. Basically a place to sit and put on makeup. I like that idea, it's less expensive, and I think it will make the room look more spacious.

By the time we left two hours later we had selected the tub, toilet, vanity, faucet line, floor tile and shower tile. We rock! We need to lay out the design we came up with and make a few more small decisions, and Henry won't be placing an order on the cabinet or the vanity top until a week from Monday. So we can tweak things, but most of the hard decisions are done. No more potty talk!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Potty Talk

Jim Sepe came over to look at our bathroom today. His company did a fantastic job on our addition downstairs, so I definitely wanted him to do the bathroom remodeling. It was really fun to listen to him throw out ideas and alternatives for the room. It is a pretty standard size bathroom, so we can't get real creative. We have to keep a shower/tub combo because that is the only tub in the house. For resale down the road, any family would want a tub. I also didn't want to necessarily get rid of the linen closet in there because this house is really shy on closet space as it is. But if we remove the closet, then we can put in a dual sink vanity. I watch my HGTV - I know that is what all the home buyers are looking for. Of course they want it to be in a master bath, but hey, you can't always get what you wa-ant (everybody sing)....If we cut into the bathroom wall that backs up to my crappy closet we can put shelves in there to make up for the loss of the closet. Plus we'll gain the storage of the double vanity. Sounds like a plan, and he's to get back to us by Monday with pricing. Woo, hoo!

The challenge for me is to update the room to make it more modern without making it uber-modern and out of character. So tonight Jim, Katie and I went to Borders and became those people who sit around and look at books and magazines but don't buy anything. Okay, that's not technically true because Katie bought a pocket English-Chinese dictionary. So we weren't total slugs. Actually I would have bought something if anything we looked at had contained a design we liked. I really was not inspired. Guess I know what we will be doing on Saturday - hitting the remodeling stores.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Extreme Bathroom Makeover

Jim and I have talked off and on about remodeling the main bathroom on the second floor of our house. We do not {gasp!} have a master bedroom suite in our 108 year old house, and the only way to get one would be to add an addition or sacrifice one of the other bedrooms. Neither seems like a good option to us right now. It never has been that big of a deal because one of the smaller bedrooms on the second floor has an attached bathroom, including a shower. I use the main bath and Jim uses the guest bath. No biggie.

The main bath has had a few issues with the wall behind the tiled tub/shower, and two different contractors have told us the wall is "spongy". I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it doesn't sound good.

It so happens that at this point in time the contractor who did our kitchen/conservatory addition will have a crew freed up soon with no work lined up. We decided to jump on the opportunity to tackle the bathroom. It will be completely gutted - out with the tub, tile, flooring, toilet, sink and vanity. The pressure is on to find replacement parts quickly. We went to RSI after work yesterday because they do have a nice showroom. We took a couple of photos of things we liked. Next stop will be Borders to pour through the kitchen and bath remodeling magazines to see what is the latest and greatest. The bathroom has a window, and I'm not willing to sacrifice it so we can't use one of those all in one tub units. That would be an easy decision.

The biggest issue for me is that Jim is the one talking to the contractor. I just hope the workers don't just show up at my door without warning. Because you know who has to empty everything out of the bathroom. And being a woman, I'll want to clean the toilet before they rip it out!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Worms Eat My Garbage

Today my niece Julie came over with her two daughters. Molly is in 8th grade and required to do a Science Fair project this year. She decided that she wanted to do something with vermicomposting. Jim and I have had worms eating our garbage for over 15 years now. Because I go into classrooms and talk to the students about the composting process, having worms to take along was a great way to illustrate how it all works. Plus the kids always get a big kick out of seeing the worms.

I have a mini vermicomposting bin I use for the classroom, and it is empty when we aren't doing any talks. So I let Molly build her own worm bin with it. As she followed my instructions on how to get it started, Julie snapped away with the camera. However when it came time to transfer some of the worms into the new container, no one wanted to get their hands dirty. So I scooped out some of the compost and some of the critters and put them in their new, temporary home. It was probably for the best as I was gentle in moving them. After that Molly added the grapefruit rind I had saved from breakfast to get the worms going.

They took the bin home and Molly will feed the worms and monitor their eating habits. The worm bins are truly full circle recycling. You give the worms your food waste, thus saving on landfill space or sanitary disposal costs, the worms create a compost that can be used on your plants, and any extra liquid in the bin can be diluted with water and used as compost tea. All organic!

Cordelia, who is 8, thinks the worms are disgusting and was dismayed with the fact that some were going to be living in her house for awhile. She calls them little snakes. She had a close encounter with a big snake at her grandparent's house, so anything that reminds her of that experience is taboo. I hope that as she listens to Molly talk about the project and begins to see what the worms do to help the environment, that she will feel more kindly towards them. If nothing else, she probably will enjoy having them eat her garbage.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Grease IS the Word!

Last night Katie and I went to see "Grease" at the Fox Theatre. Jim is still up in Iowa with his mom following her open heart surgery, so Katie scored the second ticket to go with me. I have to say up front that "Grease" is not a favorite show of mine. The whole story line bugs me. Bad boy meets good girl. Bad boy gets good girl. Bad boy dumps good girl once he gets back with his bad boy friends. Good girl becomes bad girl to get bad boy back. Really?

The Fox has been heavily promoting the show because Taylor Hicks, winner of Season 5 of American Idol, is in it. Seriously, he has one song in the show. They brought him back out at the end to do a reprise of the song "Grease", and following the show he sang one song from his new CD, which he would conveniently be signing and selling in the lobby. I don't care for Taylor Hicks, never have. And for the record? My name is Kim Wolterman and I am an Idolholic. I couldn't believe Taylor won Season 5. And look where it's gotten him. Signing CDs at the Fox Theatre riding on the Teen Angel wings of "Grease." Enough said.

The travesty of the whole thing is that Ace Young plays Danny, the bad boy lead in "Grease". Ace was also on Season of American Idol, and finished 7th. He was fabulous in the play, and very cute to boot. Did you hear one mention of him in any of the advertising of "Grease"? No, it was all about Taylor, the one song wonder of the play.

Okay, I'm done ranting. The gal who played Sandy, the good girl lead, had played Elle in "Legally Blonde the Musical" at the Fox. She is as cute as can be and very talented. The entire cast was great, and very high energy. So despite the fact that the plot sucks, the production was really great. Go, greased lightening!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Oh, Those Lights!

The other night Jim, Katie and I went out for dinner at Tuckers with our friends, who recently moved back to St. Louis from southern California. I know what you are thinking - "What, are they nuts?" Jim D. is a riding buddy of my Jim, and Jim W. couldn't be happier that Jim D. is back in town. As I had noticed when I was downtown Saturday night that the city of St. Louis still had the Christmas lights on in the City Garden, I had suggested that we all bring our cameras along and take pictures in the garden after we ate.

It was very cold, but we had come prepared dressed in layers, including long underwear. I should mention that Jim D. is a professional photographer, so he had his wonder camera and tripod so he could use a slow shutter speed to capture the night lighting. I got a new DSLR for Christmas in anticipation of my next book on barn quilts, so I was eager to try it out. I am not one for changing the settings on a fancy camera, and was content to shoot with and without a flash. As many camera classes as I have attended, I still don't quite get the aperture and shutter speed mumbo jumbo. I find that automatic works pretty well for the type of photography I partake in. Maybe I'll be a little more adventuresome with this camera since I won't be wasting film. Who knows?

It was fun to take the pictures at night, but I definitely would like to go back when I am not freezing my fingers off. I know they have some cool lighting in City Garden throughout the year, but I'm glad we were able to capture the Christmas moments for now.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sing a Song

Last night my friend Carol and I went downtown to Lumiere Place. Not to the casino, though we had to walk around its smoke-filled perimeter to get to where we were going, which was the Lumiere Theater. One of Katie's friends, Mary Claire Zimmermann, was the opening act for a local group called "Fresh Heir". At the time I purchased tickets I thought that Katie would not be allowed in due to it being in the casino area, and I also thought that Jim would be up in Iowa helping his family prepare for his mom's open heart surgery. So I had invited Carol to go with me and we would have a girl's night out. It ended up that kids were allowed in the theater, and Lorraine's surgery got moved back due to an Iowa blizzard, but the show was sold out by the time I discovered these facts.

Anyway, Mary is a super kid and very talented. She composes much of her own music and accompanies herself on the piano or keyboard, depending on what is available. Last night she played her keyboard. She did a great job, even attempting a Lady Gaga song which she taught herself the day before. She blew a few of the words, but hey some of our superstars can't even sing the National Anthem correctly, so no biggie. I give her lots of props for being onstage by herself in front of several hundred people. Way to go, Mary!

The second group I was unfamiliar with, but I did check out their My Space page and listened to a bit of their music before Saturday night. It sounded like something I could a) stand to listen to and, b) not be disgusted with the song lyrics. As it ended up, the band had just released their first CD, and we all received a free copy. I did end up enjoying the music, though it is hard to describe. I would say it has its roots in jazz, but with a bit of gentle rap and some Chicago thrown in. They wanted to create their own sound, and I think they succeeded. I will definitely listen to the CD.

More fun than watching the band, though, was watching the people in the mosh pit. (I only know what a mosh pit is because I have a teenage daughter. Carol did not know what one was.) I thought the point of a mosh pit was for the audience to be able to dance and get into the music. And sometimes body-slam each other, but this wasn't that kind of music. These moshers were dead, if I do say so myself. I think I moved my foot to the music more than most of them moved at all. The exception was a later arrival, whom I believe to be the mother of the trumpet player. She had her hands in the air and was gyrating to the beat. I thought she got a little carried away when she flicked her Bic and began to wave it around, however. The latest cool thing to do is to wave your illuminated cell phone. Doesn't she know anything?

So Carol and I stayed until the bitter end, which is more than the 73 other friends and family of Mary did. We elected to skip the after concert party as we did not want to be the oldest people in the room. Besides, after walking around the casino we needed some Fresh Heir.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Guilty as Charged!

So apparently Jim misread the ticket information. He understood that he had to pay the cost of the ticket prior to the court date, which is what he did. When he and Steve got to the courtroom only Steve's name was on the docket. By mailing in a check, Jim was actually pleading guilty. Whoops! Steve, on the other hand, plead not guilty before the judge, and now has to come back for a court date later in January. So who really walked away a winner tonight? The city of Washington, that's who!

Here Comes Da Judge

My husband is appearing in Night Court tonight in Washington, MO. One of his motorcycle riding buddies will be right there with him. A few weeks ago on a rather dreary cold Saturday (sounds like everyday lately!) three of the guys went out for a ride. Following lunch in Washington, Steve needed to fuel up. The two Jims followed him through an array of construction cones to an opening allowing entry into the gas station on a major Washington thoroughfare. Following the fill-up, Jim D zipped through the cones back onto the roadway, while my Jim and Steve hesitated, trying to determine the correct way to leave the station in light of the road construction. There was, of course, no signage to help drivers out. In the meantime a police cruiser pulled up behind Jim and Steve and blasted them with his bruuuuute, bruuuuute, bruuuuute horn, which they took as an indication to get out of his way. They pulled out onto the road and he immediately pulled them over. He issued them both tickets for making an illegal turn onto the road, and demanded that they call Jim D back so he could get a ticket as well. They refused to contact Jim D, but as he handed them their tickets the cop told them they could fight them in court if they wanted to. After all, there was no sign saying they couldn't exit they way they did. Doesn't that sound like entrapment? The cop probably sat in that lot writing tickets all day long, knowing that most people will just pay them and not take the time out to appear in court.

In fact Jim had pretty much decided to just pay the ticket since his record is clean. But he talked to another riding buddy of his who is a cop in Kansas, and he advised Jim to fight it. First of all it is the principle of the matter, but second of all if Jim were to get pulled over again for some reason, and another ticket is already on his record he would be much more likely to get a ticket than be given a warning. So tonight he and Steve will be in court. Here comes da judge!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Reflecting on Christmas 2009

Jim and I put away the Christmas decorations on Friday. It is always a relief to have the house back to normal. Though I will be picking pine needles from the floorboards until May. Nearly all of the ornaments on our tree are handmade. My mom made us a few each year when she was alive, and as newlyweds with no money, I completed ornament kits each year. When the kids came along I made them each an ornament every year. Along the way my sister made ceramic ornaments for us, and other people gave the kids ornaments as well. Last year Andy asked for all of his ornaments, so I boxed them up and sent them home with him. It was odd to only see Katie's ornament on the tree this year, and none of Andy's. In a few short years Katie will take hers, and won't that be strange?

I noticed that we received fewer Christmas cards and letters this year. A sign of the economy? Or apathy? I prepare a letter each year to send out, and genuinely enjoy reading letters from other people. Most often it is the only contact we have with them in a year. How else would I ever know that the Whitty's son is a White House aid and so they not only attended the inauguration but fireworks on the White House lawn as well? One letter in particular was missed this year. One of Jim's friends from high school always sends a letter, and they have gotten weirder each year. This couple has never had children, but they do have cats. So each year we heard of the cat adventures. A couple of years ago the tone of writing changed. The CAT wrote the letter. Bizarre.... This year we eagerly awaited news of what Muffy (or whatever her name is) had been up to, as well as the two people who take up residence in her home. No Muffy...hopefully she has not gone on to the great litter box in the sky.

By far the strangest letter we ever received was from a couple we met at Iowa State. They are both engineers living in St. Louis, and they had no children. So it was odd to read in their letter about how they were remodeling the basement into a playroom for the kids. Hmmmm.... Had they adopted? No! It seems her sister was murdered by her own husband, and they now had custody of her niece and nephew. Sadly the children were in the home when the murder occurred. Oh, oh tidings of comfort and joy....

Friday, January 1, 2010

Another Year Has Passed

We normally do not go out on New Year's Eve, and haven't for years. Too many drunks on the road, crowds everywhere, why bother? This year Jim's partner Ted invited us to out to eat with his wife, brother and sister-in-law. With reservations at 7:00, it seemed safe enough to venture out. Don't I sound like an old lady? Anyway, they had decided on a Thai restaurant. I am not a very adventuresome eater, but I was assured the restaurant also serves great Chinese food. It was an interesting place on South Grand Avenue, where some of the tables had the appearance of sitting on the floor to eat. In fact it was an illusion and a space below the table allowed you to have your feet on the floor. Cool concept... Ted ordered appetizers of some chicken on a stick (can't remember the real name), spring rolls and pot stickers. They were all great. I ordered from one of the two Chinese dinner choices (Empress Chicken and Sweet and Sour Chicken). Luckily I like both so I went with the Sweet and Sour Chicken. It was good, and I only ate half and brought the other half home.

Following supper the other four were heading to Bailey's Chocolate Bar for dessert. As we are still trying to get back on track following the Christmas train derailment of our diet, we passed. Plus we had gone there for Valentine's Day, and honestly I don't see what all the fuss is about. True to our normal New Year's Eve behavior (and most other nights, truth be told) we were snuggled under our electric blanket with our books by 10:30. Another exciting New Year's Eve!

Our early to bed, early to rise philosophy gave us the needed energy to pack up all the Christmas stuff today. It always feels so good to get the house back to normal. Now I can concentrate on a new quilt I am making for Jim. In light of his epic Route 66 motorcycle trip last year, I am making him a Route 66 lap quilt. Vroom, vroom!