Saturday, April 24, 2010

He's here!

For those of you interested in baby picture overload, I will now present to you my newest endeavor:

The Rowan Daily

Wherein I shall post one million pictures of our new son, Rowan Daniel.  He was born on Tuesday at 9:17 and weighed 9 pounds 6 oz.  He is just about the sweetest thing in the world, and we couldn't be happier to have him at home with us.

You'll have to excuse the pause in regularly scheduled home improvement posts while I get to know this sweet little stranger....

Rest assured that I will be back before you know it, and please feel free to visit over at our new baby blogstravaganza

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Trees and Shrubs

Just stumbled upon Global ReLeaf of Michigan.  What an awesome organization!

They have a Tree and Shrub Fundraising Sale every spring and proceeds from your membership and purchases go to support community tree plantings.

The house painting is our big Spring project this year, but you can bet that next year around this time we'll be picking up about 20 or so of these:  

"The narrow, pyramid shape makes it a natural choice for windbreaks. Tall and elegant, it requires almost no care when used as a hedge or screen. Pairs of these hardy trees make great accents for doors and garden gates while single specimens soften house corners. Single specimens can grow to 40'-60' with a spread of up to 15' in the wild, but 20'-30' with a 12' spread in urban settings is more typical. Plant 3 feet apart for hedge. (zones 3-7)" 

We're in gardening zone 6, so these are right up our alley.  We'll line the driveway in the back of the house with them.  Right now it's all just brush, and the house behind us is rented, so we're doubtful that the landlord will mind us increasing his property value, though equally doubtful that he'll go in with us on the cost.  (Which is about $18/per)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Color Scheme Finalists

I give you the basic color wheel:

I give you this because there are 2 ways that I considered coordinating our color scheme.  1st is with opposite colors such as Violet-Red and Yellow Green.  2nd is with adjacent colors, such as Violet-Red and Red.

Adjacent seemed to make the most sense to me.  And to Bob Villa and his team of handy henchmen.  So we ended up with a few "monochromatic" color schemes-- which are centered around one color, but with different levels of light medium or dark.

We have the three schemes which I have already referred to in previous posts, but I will repost here for the sake of comparison:

Option 1 "Texas Pride" 

Option 2 "Olives"

Option 3 "Update"

And a few new ones that I just made up because I think they look pretty together.  

Option 4 "Bricks"
Option 5: "Moss"
Option 6: "Mist"

Option 7: "Slate"

OK I leave you to it.  Please expound in the comment section about which (if any) of these schemes appeal to you based on the posts this week, and your own experience as home-owners/home-seers/drive-by-curb-appeal-judgers.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Big Spring Project: Exterior Paint: Some Tips from This Old House

I read a great article over on This Old House about choosing exterior paint colors, and I found their very first point really inspiring:

Start with Stone: 
Exterior paint schemes should be based on colors that are already established.

So what is established at our home?  First, we have a really beautiful fieldstone foundation.  Perhaps we're guilty of a little parental pride, but I really do think it's exceptional.

Now based on our Victorian Color Palette from yesterday, here are some colors that I chose with that in mind:

Also, though we haven't seen it yet, we have tree that has a maroon leaves.  I'm guessing it's some sort of Red Maple.  And just so you know, I'm not blessed with gardening/arbor skills-- Just ask my dad.  I googled it :)  You can see it on the far left side of this picture:

Looking at the picture above (from the Realtor's listing) it's remarkable how organic our house looks in the Spring and summer.  You can see the Red Maple reflected in the Mauve/Burgundy shutters-- see that pink flowering shrub across the street to the right?  Right there in our siding-- that pink is also picked up in the Fieldstone.  So what to do?  

If you take these three, drawn from our palettes above, and based on the natural surroundings of our house, then you get something that basically reflects our current color palette, which heretofore we had decided was simply unpalatable:

The blue is mainly in the Gingerbread work and painted under the extended eaves.  You can't see it very much in the photos above, but it is a secondary accent color.  

Now, granted, the Beige is more Beige and less Pink, and the Dark Red is Dark Red and not Mauve.  So here is an option which I really really like, and which (surprisingly) keeps our basic paint scheme, but updates it a little bit- or authenticates it (according to Sherwin Williams, anyway :) 

Tomorrow:  Some more color palette finalists. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Victorian color schemes

"Painted Ladies" they're called-- Victorian homes are usually dated from between 1880-1915 (ish).  Queen Anne is the most ornate style home (example pictured here):

Ours is not quite this ornate, but then again not terribly far from it.  We are certainly not the most ornate in our neighborhood though.... check these beauties out!

Do you see that roof? 

The black and white photo does not even begin to do this house justice... It's two doors down from us, and the current owners just restored it.  It is unspeakably gorgeous, but I feel like a strange stalker doing the slow drive-by walk-by photo shoot.  This was all I could find on the web :) But check out that gingerbread work-- sigh....

"IT WAS A PERIOD OF CONTRASTS. Natural shades of sand, stone, slate and earth, on homes designed in the style of a Gothic revival. Accents were everything, with ornate windows, doors and cornices painted in vivid hues that featured every ornament." 

Sherwin Williams offers a "Victorian Preservation Palette" which attempts to be in keeping with what is historically appropriate for a Victorian home.   Here are some of the combos which they suggest:

Our neighbors have pretty much *exactly* the Downing Straw/Rookwood Red/Rookwood Dark Green scheme.  As far as "pre-assigned schemes" go I lean pretty heavily towards the first and the last (featuring Renwick Olive, and Downing Earth, respectively)  


We don't have to go with a pre-assigned color scheme.... They also have about 90 colors which they suggest are of a Victorian color palette:

Now these I can work with...  soon I'll give you a couple of palettes of my own devising, but in the meantime, what do you think about the palettes they suggest?  Does anything jump out at you? Let me know in the comments!

Again, my faves for your closer consideration:  

Option 1
Option 2

and remember

The eyes of Texas are upon you.  All the livelong day.

Can you guess which one Drake is leaning towards?  

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dear God,

Thanks very much for inspiring the former owners of this house to install a shower upstairs that has two seating options and an assist bar for the handicapped.  They have no idea how much I appreciate it these days.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Big Spring Project: Exterior Paint

Well, still no baby!
I really really wanted to go outside and do some gardening, but decided that with the very heavy risk of throwing out my back it just wasn't worth it.  But things are starting to grow out there!  There are little bits of green popping up through all of the dead things.  One of these days....

This afternoon Drake is out raking and cleaning out the hobby garage.  Have we talked about that?

We have a detached two car garage, AND a hobby garage way out back.  Our property is L shaped, so you really almost can't tell that it's ours but it is.  And it is in horrible disrepair.  We've already been approached by the Village Police since we're in violation of maintenance ordinances (obviously through no fault of our own, since we just moved in) but they've given us the summer to get it fixed up. There's about a month's worth of posts coming your way in May that will be dedicated to the restoration of the hobby garage, then six years from now if Drake gets tenure there will be a new section of the blog dedicated to antique muscle car restoration.  A pretty cool reward for tenure, we think :)

So while he labors away and before I labor away (literally) I've decided to spend the afternoon doing some research on what color schemes are appropriate and likely for our big Spring repainting.  Oooo I cannot wait!!  Our house really does have tremendous potential in the curb appeal area...

So I'm pre-preparing a bunch of posts on the topic, and will schedule them to post throughout next week, to keep you all busy while we wait and see when our son decides he'd like to move in with us. 

Friday, April 9, 2010


Dear baby (on what is supposed to be your birthday),

So here we sit, waiting to see if you decide to be timely.  I don't blame you, from what I hear it's a rather cozy scenario in there, and what do we have out here for you?  Well... we'll start with your immediate environs.  We live in Michigan.  Is that surprising?  It won't be to you.  It will be where you were born!  it's part of your history and ours now.

Your father was born in Texas, and that's where your grandparents live (we're still all figuring out what you'll call them, maybe you'll get to decide that too.  You have many decisions to make!) You have lots of family in Texas, and it's a pretty cool place, I must say.  I received my honorary citizenship there not long ago, and Grandma and Grandpa said that was "the best move Governor Rick Perry has made so far."  I did this in case Chuck Norris ever becomes Governor and decides to secede from the Union.  This way I won't need to apply for dual citizenship.  Don't worry we'll get you one too.

Your grandmother knows just about everyone in town because a lot of people grew up with her as their Principal.  She's kind of famous there, and I bet you will be too.  Your grandfather builds cranes and monorails-- isn't that the coolest?  He also loves music, and has a pretty amazing record collection.  He knows the names of most band members from all of the coolest bands of all time.  You should be on his team in Trivial Pursuit.  You're going to love to visit them and their dogs...  Don't be offended if Blair is a little stand-offish.  She's used to being the baby.  We're going to visit Texas just as soon as we possibly can, because there are a lot of people there who want to meet you!

I was born in Massachusetts.  The French call it "Mange ta chausettes" which means "eat your socks."  You also have a lot of family out there!  I bet you'll call your grandparents "Memere" and "Pepere", but we'll see what you come up with.   Memere is lots of fun, and she sings funny songs all the time.  She's the one who told me whenever I complained about being bored that "only boring people get bored."  And in effect, that's why I'm writing right now!  I have nothing to do but sit around and wait for you to come out, so thought I'd make the most of it.  Pepere will take you out to work in the garden and talk to you about a lot of things that you might not understand.  Don't worry, he'll still be there to talk with you about them when you're in college.

You also have  three uncles who you will LOVE.  I bet you will have a ton of fun with them.  They do things like make funny videos, start bands, record songs, act in plays and musicals, and one of them even counsels troubled teens.  In fact, I've heard that Ben can actually hypnotize people, but Memere made him promise to stop when she found out he hypnotized Joey so that he could have longer turns at video games.  You'll hear lots of funny stories about your uncles.  But not for a while.  I don't want to put any ideas in your head.

Your dad and I are both singers, but you probably already know this, since you hear us all the time.  Memere was concerned that you would be deaf because sometimes I sing very loudly, but don't worry, we will never sing right into your tiny ears.  Is that why you don't want to come out?  We did take you to a rather loud concert a couple weeks ago-- the Boito Mephistofoles, and a bunch of our friends were singing and playing SUPER LOUD!  I covered my belly, but it probably didn't help.  Sorry.  But I'm afraid that you're probably in for it for life in the loud concert area... Your dad and I both toured a bunch of schools and sang opera for kids, and a lot of kids block their ears and make funny faces when they hear opera for the first time, but I bet you won't!   You'll raise your little hand and say "Very well done, but I would've liked to have heard a little mezza di voce on that one high note, it's not all 'Park and Bark' you know.  A little refinement goes a long way."  (Don't really say this out loud.  Even if you're thinking it.)

It's funny to think that everything that your dad and I have done in our lives so far, and everywhere we've lived is a total mystery to you.  You'll probably hear stories about us and think, "What?  my mom jumped out of plane?  no way.  she doesn't let me do ANYTHING."  or "*My* dad was in SHOWCHOIR?  absolutely not."  But he was.  There's video evidence.

So come on out, OK?  we can't wait to meet you, and there's a LOT of stuff we have to show you, and I bet there's a lot of stuff that you'll show us too!  Maybe you'll be a snowboarder, or a physicist, or one of those crazy fisherman on "Deadliest Catch" or even.... a countertenor.  Your dad says that's the one thing that you can't be.  But, he's really a softy. I bet if you become a countertenor, he'll learn to love them the best.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

tick tock....


1. He is due to arrive tomorrow
2. My Doctor says that "my cervix is very unfavorable."  This made me laugh.  She's tremendously awkward, but I find it very endearing.  She can't help herself.
3.  Mom says that all three of my brothers came on their due dates.  (I was early)
4.  There is now a convent of nuns in Framingham praying that he arrives tomorrow 4-09 at 4:09 (thanks mom :)
5. I am out of TV to watch.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dirty Work

Drake decided to edge the sidewalk that runs through the center of our back yard (to the back porch entrance.)  He's been deciding to do projects the moment he comes home lately, which results in this:

Drake in a sweater vest and tie, ripping up large sections of sod with his bare hands.

When I asked him why he didn't just change out of his work clothes, he replied "Alta, this is not dirty work."  Which made me laugh so hard that I had a contraction.  

Perhaps you wonder what I do while Drake is doing all of these projects around the house?  

I sit there on my balance ball, bouncing around and taking pictures.  

All of the sod got thrown in one of the flower beds, where Drake plans to use it to level out the soil, and encourage water to drain *away* from our basement.  Unfortunately, one of the fairies got smacked. 

What kind of a madman could do this?

Vicious backyard warrior that he is.  

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hook 'em

We figured out where the horns go

Things are finally taking shape!  We're finally getting around to hanging things in rooms other than the nursery, and every piece makes it feel more and more like home.  

See that piece over to the left? It's this photo that I took in Tribeca this summer, and had printed 20x30,
matted and framed.

So now it looks like this:

We're becoming more and more fond of the Honey Pot wall color, especially now that it's not the only thing on the walls.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Car Seat, check.

He doesn't usually read the manual, but made an exception in this case...

Then we had some fun visitors

And now the carseat is in the car and ready to go!

The stroller too 

So we're ready when you are, baby!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!!

A little bit of springtime around the house

Maybe we'll have an Easter baby?  Any guesses as to date/time of his arrival?