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Unprepared

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve been woeful about this blog, not from lack of interest but rather sheer laziness (and a pinch of feeling overwhelmed recently with my day job). But today seems a fitting day to start writing again because I have a few brief words of wisdom to offer: don’t start a large household project (like, say, repainting your kitchen cabinets and adding new hardware) a couple of weeks before hosting out-of-town guests for a major holiday. There’s the slimmest of chances that, despite your best intentions, you may not finish the project before the guests arrive. And, on the morning of the major holiday, your house may just look like this:

Fortunately, my dear guests (who arrived Tuesday), have pretended to turn a blind eye to the chaos for which I can’t thank them enough.

In other news, today I’m cooking a turkey for the first time ever. Whoa. I’m a little intimidated. After conducting an enormous amount of Internet research on ways to cook a turkey, I’ve settled on brining it.

That’s the bird in the brining bag now.

Meanwhile, to the readers who are celebrating Thanksgiving today, have a wonderful day. To the readers who aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving today, I hope your day goes alright too.

I’ll write again (soon!) to tell you how the turkey turned out and to give you all the details on the kitchen project.

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Basil, in brief

Who likes fresh basil?  I like fresh basil.  Fresh basil likes me, too, especially when I put it in the fridge or in a cup of water on the counter.  For a few days, fresh basil will be happy with either of these options.  Fresh basil, it turns out, does not like me if I do both.  Yesterday, I put fresh basil in water in the fridge, and within hours, fresh basil became not-so-fresh basil, shriveled, brown, and very, very unhappy.

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Green home giveaway

I once had a friend once who liked to play the lottery. He said that he never really expected to win, but he loved the feeling of buying a lottery ticket, putting it in his wallet, and waiting to hear the winning numbers announced. He said that during the period of time between buying the ticket and hearing the winning numbers he felt completely optimistic; buying the lottery ticket was like buying hope. He’d indulge in fantasies about what he’d do if he won and dream about how his life would be better.

I don’t buy lottery tickets except on very rare occasions, but I am a very happy sweepstaker (what, you didn’t know that was a word?). Every time HGTV has a dream home or green home (their eco-friendly version of the dream home) give-away, I enter the sweepstakes. In fact, I enter every day. When HGTV first announces the new home they’ll be giving away, I go to their website and look at photos of the house and take the virtual tours. I imagine moving in and what life would be like in our new house and new town. On the rare occasions that I don’t like the house or have no interest in moving to the town where the dream house is located, I imagine how much money I could sell the house for and what I’d do with that money.

The current green home is in Denver and the sweepstakes ends tomorrow. In late June they announce the winner with an ambush-style, Publisher’s Clearing House-type knock at the winner’s front door. I’m soooo ready. In the meantime, would you like to see photos of my new house?

Here’s the ultra-modern front.

And here’s the open kitchen.

I was excited to see that the kitchen sink and faucet I recently bought look very much like the ones featured in this green home. The sink and faucet, however, are where the similarities between my kitchen and this one begin and end.

The kitchen opens to the dining room and the colors between the two rooms are coordinated. I love the surround of enormous windows.

Finally, yes, please, to the master bath. We have a master bath in our house. Mark laughs when I call it that though because he maintains that there’s nothing masterful about it. I’m almost positive that if he stands in the middle of our bathroom, extends his arms out fully and turns around, he could touch all four walls.

As much as this green house looks fantastic, I fundamentally don’t see us living in Denver. So after the prize patrol comes a knockin’ at our door, I’ll be putting up the for sale sign in front of the 2011 HGTV green home. Don’t worry though, I’ll let Yikes Money readers get first crack at buying it from me. Then I’m going to take my profits and buy a beach home in Maine.

So what about you? Do you play the lottery? Enter sweepstakes? Or are you perfectly happy with all that you have right now?

*All photos from HGTV (that was sort of obvious though, right?).*

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Mucho mulch

By super special request, my Mother’s Day dreams came true.  You’ll never guess what I got for a present. Here’s a clue:

OK, another big clue to my super special present is the title of this blog post.

Mark borrowed a truck from a friend and loaded it up with mulch. Our town offers mulch at a great price — $22 for 3 cubic yards — if you bring your own truck. I think the mulch is largely made from the discarded Christmas trees that the town picks up in front of people’s homes in early January.

The only problem with our cheapskate way of getting mulch is that we had to unload it from the truck ourselves. It was a ton of work and took several hours, but Charlie loved it. He got fabulously filthy.

Aside from helping to keep moisture in the soil and dissuading weeds to take root, a fresh layer of mulch just makes a garden bed look finished.  Here’s a shot of our pre-mulch garden:

And here it is after a good layer of the mulch:

So much better.

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The sound of silence

Joy of joys, my replacement Danskos arrived late last week. They look exactly like the old ones but are mercifully quiet, without even the tiniest of squeaks.

Three cheers for Dansko customer service!

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Hammered

Our 1950s kitchen has the original cabinetry. I have mixed feelings about the cabinetry. On the one hand, I hate that it’s so dated. On the other, I’m trying to appreciate its vintage character. For the most part, I find it easier to hate than to appreciate. However, I do regularly read Retro Renovation, a blog devoted to love of all post-war, mid-century homes. This blog celebrates kitchen cabinetry like mine. And thus, I hope that no enthusiasts of Retro Renovation are reading this post, because they might throw things to see what I’ve done. Check out this photo of my kitchen (taken just before we installed the new backsplash):

See that scalloped wooden valance? I tried to love it. I tried to appreciate it for its vintage character.

But in the end, I took a hammer to it. Technically, Mark took a hammer to it, but I placed it in his hand.

That scalloped wooden piece didn’t go down without a fight though. It took a lot of effort (from Mark) to loosen it and bring it down.

Let’s look a little closer. Uh oh, that’s a big piece of split wood on the front of the adjacent cabinet.

I think we’ll be able to fix it with some wood glue and filler. And, of course, we’re planning on painting the cabinetry anyhow.

You can see more split wood on the other side. We’ll have to figure out what to do with that inch long space that’s left between the two pieces of molding.

But despite these problems that arose with taking down the wood valence, and despite my efforts to love my vintage kitchen, I’m so glad the scalloped beast is gone.

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The duck stops here

Last year for my birthday my sister got me the best present ever: a pair of black patent Dansko clogs.

My feet have rejoiced wearing these shoes. I suffer from plantar fasciitis (a fancy term for super painful arches in my feet) and these are about the only shoes I own that don’t bother my feet. In fact, there are days I come home from work and forget to take them off; they’re just that comfortable.

This happy feet story took a sad turn about six months ago. My wonderful Danskos began to squeak as I walked. At first I thought it was just the linoleum floor at work, but then I started to pay closer attention and realized that they squeak everywhere I walk. And, over time, the squeaking has become louder and louder. My coworkers began making subtle remarks about the shoes, then they started cracking jokes. One of them nailed it right on the head when he said I sound just like a duck quacking as I walk. It’s kind of like the duck on those annoying Aflac insurance commercials: “Aflac,” “Aflac,” with each step. And yet, I kept wearing the Danskos because I love them so.

Finally, however, the last straw: yesterday I was walking to the office and a man behind me called out, “Wow! Those are the loudest shoes I’ve ever heard!” You guys, I was walking outside, next to a busy street, beside a construction zone. Oh, the humiliation! But I oughta thank that guy because he motivated me to do something I’ve been meaning to do for months: I called Dansko. They must be familiar with the squeaking problem because the customer service representative told me to send them the shoes and they will send me a brand new pair. Joy, joy! The only problem is that she estimated it would take two weeks for the new Danskos to arrive. I guess that’s a small price to pay to silence the duck for good. Quack, quack!

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