The Best Nine

  • I have so many things to catch up on. We have been hard at work on the downstairs bathroom. But I don’t yet feel ready to publish our progress. In the meantime, Instagram helped me by telling me my most popular photos of 2016 so I thought I would share them here. I will have more house updates soon I promise  Thanks for reading!

Green Thumb Dreams

We cleaned out the yard this past  weekend… continuing to learn as we go.

The final haul of our poor little vegetable garden:


Poor little eggplants! A few straggler tomatoes, not even enough jalapeños for a decent salsa!  The summer was dry,  and we didn’t water enough. We also had some critters steal all the good stuff…


(Hi, there,  Promising Little Baby Cucumber That Got Totally Eaten By a Nasty Raccoon )

…so  we resolved to fence things in next year and be better at the whole “tending” thing.

But on to things we’re actually growing..


When we had a tree fall in the yard a couple summers ago, I thought this poor little guy was a goner (a laurel? I will look it up,  I swear! ). You can see the middle part that was crushed, and the right side has always been ok.  But that little bit on the left is what’s exciting to me… New growth! It’s a theme I’m embracing around here these days.  My brother-in-law helped dig it out last weekend,  and we re-planted it along the border of the yard (by “we”  I mean “my brother-in-law”). Per his wise advice,  we watered it hard for two days and I’m hopeful for its full recovery. Its removal was part of the weekend side yard clean out, and with all the green leaves sprouting out the side, I think we’re in for a good spring with this one.  Stay tuned.


Now here we have a photo I like —  I’m trying to work on my photography skills (in addition to trying to keep track of the work we’re doing), using all the modes and filters available to a modem gal with a fairly new phone.  On the left,  we have an excellent example of the weedy wildflowers I have encouraged to grow all season.  Along the borders of the yard,  I decided to completely let things do what they want —  it’s going to be a while before we can afford the fencing we’d like to put in, so I’m letting go and letting nature take its course in these places. This has worked out for the most part (wildflowers), but has also spectacularly backfired in a few places, as well.  For example, I’m pretty certain the plant on the right is poison ivy. And there is PLENTY of it along said border. So it’s a fun challenge to prune things back while trying not to touch a large percentage of what’s in there. The first summer we were here,  I unknowingly embraced the poison ivy,  and that did not turn out well. Lesson learned.

And finally…


The Thorny Berry I-Haye-Ums!

That may not be their scientific name,  but without resorting to a few choice Jersey Girl  words not fit for print,  that’s what I call them.

This is another plant I’ve let grow where it pleases, and these thorny bushes are all over the yard. They seem to spread in direct proportion to how much I dislike  them.

Nonetheless, I was excited to see them all sprout way more berries than they did last year.

Until my boss told me that was a sure sign that it’s going to be a terrible winter.

So… yay?

Pocket Doors

I really thought I posted this before, but I must have been waiting to find my “before” pictures. And I think Chris got a whole series of photos of various paint stripping stages (and what, I ask you, is more riveting than another tale of Getting Paint Off Stuff?) so, don’t worry… This is not the only post on the pocket doors! I could tell you were getting worried. Don’t be.

I will even make a slide show. Maybe. In the meantime, picture, if you will, the frame and doors all painted.



Detail of lock/handle

Mulch, Steam Cleaning, Barilla Pasta, Fall …. you know… the usual ….

To describe the past couple of projects that Chris and I have embarked upon would involve using the words “mulch” (front shrubs) and “steam cleaner” (rented, taken to anything with a fabric-y surface) and even as I type — I’m sorry, are you there?  I just nodded off for a sec while typing.. but, hey — if I didn’t lose you at mulch, then please enjoy a picture I snapped last night (9/25) …it’s out the window of the train, which is why the florescent light is hanging out in the right upper corner, but I thought the light and the glassy river looked beautiful…  like the colors of the current season:  not quite fall, not yet still summer…


Oh, fall … The sunsets are beautiful, the leaves are changing and it’s already getting darker earlier.  We’re working on our weekend plan while working at our Work work and dealing with general life stuff this week.  So I hope to have more interesting photos and thoughts and ideas to post next week!

A fun happy hour was had on Tuesday (and donate, won’t ya?!?) and we also have been enjoying some freshly cut flowers from my flower bed experiment.


This has led me to a new obsession with planting some fall bulbs that will flower and let me cut them and have them in the house…. links?  thoughts?

And finally, and most importantly, I’d like to direct you to my dear friend’s blog, where he tries to talk some sense into the world.  We were equally shocked by the Barilla pasta news today– me, because I’m a fat girl who loves Barilla pasta and can’t buy it any more, and my friend because he is a gay man raising two amazing kids.  Oh, world…  Catch up to the rest of us, will ya? And, Barilla, apologize all you want.  You sleep with the fishes.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month



And here you thought I just posted pictures of lamps and blabbed about life in the suburbs.  NOT TRUE!

Did you know that in 2010, President Obama declared September “National Childhood Cancer Awareness” Month?  Well, he did.

It’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart, and I am a proud Junior Board Member of Solving Kids’ Cancer, which is an awesome organization that directly funds clinical trials for the most untreatable pediatric cancers.  They are doing amazing things — I urge you to check them out, and if you’re so inclined, to donate.  100% of their proceeds go directly to clinical trials.  WHAT?!?  It’s true.

I really think that immunotherapy is going to change the game, and there just isn’t government funding out there for research.  I guess in the scheme of things,  cancer in kids affects a relatively few number of people (compared to, say, breast cancer or heart disease).  But tell that to a parent whose kid just got diagnosed with sarcoma — am I right?!?  Oh, sarcoma.  And blastoma.  And other “omas” that I hope eventually become a thing of the past.  Here are some more facts about childhood cancer:

  •     Childhood cancer is the No. 1 disease killer of America’s children (0-18 years of age) – killing more children than cystic fibrosis, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, birth defects, asthma and AIDS combined.


  •     Great strides have been made for blood cancers with survival rates now up to 80%. Unfortunately for children with neuroblastoma, sarcomas and brain tumors, the five-year survival rate remains less than 50%.  The rates have not changed in decades.


  •     Less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget goes toward childhood cancer research and drug companies don’t include childhood cancer in their Research & Development


  •     Each school day, enough children are diagnosed with cancer to empty two classrooms.


So, what can you do?  You can start by donating to SKC!  And if you’re in NYC, you can come by the Junior Board’s Happy Hour Friendraiser on 9/24 at O’Lunney’s on 45th Street.  If you’re further upstate, you can shop at Adams Fairacre Farms— they are partnering with SKC on a clinical trial and raising money all throughout the month of September.  Today they tweeted that they have raised over $11,000 and it’s only September 12!

You can also check out the Ronan Thompson Foundation home page.  If that doesn’t do it for you, I recommend watching this video and checking out the Megan McNeil home page.

Get involved! And always be thankful for the healthy children in your life 🙂


Thanks for reading!

Monday night in the suburbs

I finally got some before and after pictures of the kitchen organized– the only room done by a contractor and the only one that’s mostly finished. Before I post them, though, I gotta tell you about our Monday night.  Chris got home a little earlier than I did and did some work on the side of our front porch. (I’ll let him explain what he did.  It involves two-by-fours and a circular saw).  So when he picked me up at the train, I hopped in the car and said, “how are you?”

Chris: Bad.

Me: Why bad?

Chris: Because I found where all the ants are coming from.

We’d been having a little ant problem in front of the house….  There was a colony (is that where ants come from?) under the post.  Before he left to pick me up at the train, Chris dumped some ant poison on the area.  We came home to a lot of dead ants.


Can’t see them all?


There they are!

So, I’m on the phone with my mom, catching up and telling her how gross and funny the ants were.  We were going to grill some brats for dinner, I was cleaning up the kitchen, Chris was upstairs scrubbing the ant poison off of himself.  I hang up with my mom and hear Chris yell.

It’s not like Chris to yell in general and it’s definitely not like him to yell in horror.

Chris: There’s a bat in the house!

Me: A what?  (I think he said “bat” but he couldn’t possible have said “bat!”)

Chris: A really big bat! (and the rest is drowned out by the sound of him running around the second floor, slamming doors and flapping blankets and yelling “Don’t come up here, you’ll hate it!!”)

He eventually shoo-ed the poor thing out to the screened in upstairs porch (which was probably its entry point in the first place, what with the holes in the floor and us trying to create a cross breeze by leaving the door wide open….)

Generally freaking out, but in a brave, guy-ish way, he went to the basement and came up with a 5 gallon Home Depot bucket, giant rubber gloves and a racquet.  I followed him upstairs with the camera (while also generally freaking out, but in a shrieking, girly kind of way).

Chris: (on the porch, swinging the racquet wildly) I need a tennis racquet!

Me: Um, you’re holding a tennis racquet.

Chris: This is a RACQUETball racquet!


It’s hard to take a picture of a guy wearing a headlamp swinging a racquet at a bat on a very dark porch while also not throwing up.

Anyway, the bat is gone.  Next project!