Thursday, July 29, 2010

Baby Picture of the Week

We were out and about last week visiting Michelle and Ross and Cameron in Erie PA.

We had such fun! They took us for Rowan's first sail on their sailboat (The Wombat)

We met some new friends (who are singing opera in this photo-- Drake was singing too, and his proximity to R's ear caused a small fit :)

 Cameron just turned one, so he's the Pioneer baby for me... :)  we keep a close eye on him so we know what we have to look forward to with Rowan.  Plus! then Michelle and Ross have great advice for us as we catch up!  Right now the boys are in such a different place developmentally but, as Michelle pointed out, they have the same age difference that she and I have! So we think they'll be fast friends eventually :)

Drake and Rowan and I spent the morning at one of the beaches on the Peninsula and it was beyond wonderful.

 Rowan did not seem overly anxious to get in the water at first

But he stuck his toes in eventually and splashed around

Then he enjoyed drying off his toes in the sun

Shed Pt. 2

We woke up the next morning and began to assess where we were. Roof leveled and supported, it was time to address the western wall. Ah the western wall.

Clearly the western wall was in the worst shape of the entire shed, when we received a letter from the police department concerning the shed, it featured the western wall. Covered with vines. Growing INTO the shed. Through the roof. After some discussion with project leader Kevin, it was decided that the western wall had to be removed. Completely. We set about supporting the roof, and while Kevin began making plans to reframe the wall, I started taking the wall out. And by taking the wall out I mean beating the @#$# out of the wall till it was not connected to the shed anymore. Catharsis.

At this point Kevin and I were starting to worry about what we could get done before the Grandey's expected departure, until the arrival of the third member of our group, Jesse. Jesse is a singing buddy of mine who came all the way from Ann Arbor to lend a hand. Kevin put him immediately to work removing the bolts that were in the concrete that had a one time held the shed to the concrete.

While we were doing this, Kevin (with some help from Lila!) was building the framing for the wall. I went to help.

Jesse then went to cut off the rotten roof beams and with Kevin's help attach the new supports to the non-rotted wood.

Note the appearance of Fat Max (the hammer). It's actually called Fat Max, it's written on the handle. He probably got teased a lot in Junior High. At this point it was getting on lunch, so we will take a break with our heroes as they rest and prepare for the afternoon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Drake + Bottle Jack = 4 Eva

We join our heros in media res...

Driving to Home Depot for the first trip, Kevin was telling me our shopping lists.   "Box of nails, 50 2x4s, bottle jack, some concrete slabs, some way to connect the wall to the roof..."

Here's the deal, in all honesty I didn't know what a bottle jack was.   I thought we were going to be using a jack similar to the one that comes in your car, except a lot bigger.  So when Kevin pointed to the bottle jack on the shelf, I thought, "wait, how is that going to work?"   But I dutifully tossed it into the shopping cart, along with the rest of the tools for our project.   We also rented the Home Depot truck to bring everything home.   Then, the unload:

Next, we spent some time with our families, because who can resist a cute 3 year old and month old baby?  But, after a little family time and returning the truck, it was time to get down to business.  

Kevin had noted immediately that the first goal of the project was get the roof leveled.  Here it is in it's pre repair glory:  

Who ever built the shed used a modular construction.  He had built ten identical sections of roof, then bolted them all together.   While this was probably easier than making and putting up a entire roof, it was very weak at the joints.  Hence, the roof had dropped nearly a foot at places!   Never fear, we have a bottle jack!

We put down concrete slabs to make an level surface and began to use the jack to lift the roof at the joints, using 2x4s as spacers. 

 Once the roof was eyeballed up to even, we would hammer together more 2x4s to make a support that went from the floor to the roof and move on to the next joint.

Through this process, we raised the roof!  After a bit more eyeballing we thought we had it, and went to check the levelness, figuring we had some small adjustments.  Thankfully, we were with in six inches of level all the way across!   This was good enough for the shed, so we called it a day.  

 This left the following for the next day, or so we thought:

Reinforce western wall
Remove rotted wood from the roof
Connect the roof to the repaired wall
Patch roof

Thankfully, help was on the way.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Baby Picture of the Week

please note the drool

and the new shoes from GiGi :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Upstairs Bathroom mood board

1. 1 inch black hex tiles from
3. Wall mounted mirror (because the wall above the sink is pitched)
5. Frame (we already have) 
7. Tilly Bloom print (already have)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Baby Picture of the Week

Hey is that mine?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bathroom Inspiration

We may not live in our house forever.  It makes me sad to think about, but it's true.  This is our first house, and how often do people only live in one house?  But I'll tell you, if there was a house that I could live in forever, this is it.  There's just a lot of room to grow and expand.  Not a lot of land, which is my only real complaint.

This is all to say that when we take on projects, we have to consider the re-sale appeal of it, and we try to prioritize things in terms of what a buyer would want in a house.  Kitchen and Baths are thereby very high on our big project priority list, after exterior paint, gutters (finished) and total electric overhaul.

To that end we want to keep things moderately authentic and Victorian looking.  For the downstairs bathroom, we're thinking about white and wood...
Here's what we've got:

I would love to keep the mirror-- we think it's original. 

This clearly needs to be a clawfoot tub

So there we are.  (sorry the seat is up, in general I object to photos of the commode with the seat up, but it's the only one I have :) 

Here are some pictures from my Victorian bathroom inspiration files
Exhibit A:

  • the white and wood
  • the white hex floor tiles
  • the stove
  • the basin sink
  • the pitcher and basin
  • the chair and stools
  • the towelrack

Could do without:
  • the floral tile trim
Exhibit B:
  • the floors
  • the TUB
  • the light
Obviously, this being an ad for the fixtures, it is a bit sparse. 

GORGEOUS, one of a kind, and a mere $4,300
BUT has inspired me to look for an antique sewing table that we could turn into a basin sink.  Something like:

And to add a basin sink to it.  Can you imagine?  GORGEOUS.  (plus it says singer, and that's what we do... :)  In fact, here's one identical to the one above in Livonia that we might just pick up.  Then, we'll just add one of these:
Oh how I would love that.  

While researching tile and the floor I found a wonderful site called 
"The Subway Ceramics collection of historically-accurate, glazed ceramic tile is fabricated with the dry-press method to produce a flat, precise and tightly set tile installation, the distinguishing characteristics of Victorian-era tilework"

This method of production was apparently discontinued during the depression.  And so we have subway tile on the wall and hex tile on the floor as a very appealing option.

Next up: A mood board for the upstairs half bath in the Master Bedroom, and for the downstairs bath (pictured above)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Birthday America! How to take sparkler photographs

Want to try it yourself?

If you can put your camera into manual mode you can do it.  the trick is to set it to a small aperture and a long exposure.  I'll explain.  The aperture is the opening that lets light into your camera.  a large opening lets in lots of light and a small opening lets in less.  Normally in low-light situations (night) you want a large aperture, but because your subject in this case is, well, fire, then you want less.  ALSO

I have a digital SLR camera, so I can change my lenses.  In this case I had a lens that ranged from 1.8 to 22.  22 is the smallest aperture, and 1.8 the biggest.  SO we set the aperture to 22 and then we had to figure out how long it would take to write our names. In our case, it was 8 seconds.

So when you look through the view finder, you see a bunch of numbers-- we saw
8" 22  |-_|________+|  

Because it's such a long exposure, you'll want to use a tripod.  It's hard to hold a camera absolutely still for anything longer than 1/60th of a second.  If you don't have a tripod, you can set it on a steady surface like the top of your car (that's what we did)

Now, write your name or whatever you want. The trick is to shuffle your body along while you do it.  If your name is "bob" you probably won't need to, but if your name is "Aloyisius" you'll need to shuffle.  If you stand in one place, your name will be in an arc and that won't do.  Move your body as if you were writing on a chalk board-- so that it is all on one plane.

Now go!  Sparkle!

Please feel free to ask questions if any of this is unclear. :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wish list

I know how very rarely I post about opera on my blogs... it's strange, really.  But I'm feeling inspired by Drake's recent iTunes birthday present purchase of this album by Joyce DiDonato and of this album by Jonas Kaufmann (thanks Amy and Vernon!) Now that we're no longer in NYC it's become increasingly important to seek out good singing, and man oh man is this ever good!

Looking further into Ms. DiDonato's discography, I found these two DVD's which I now want desperately...


There is also, of course, her blog-- which I've been reading for a long time now.  Beautiful writer and photographer too!

AND I was alerted to a broadcast of The Marriage of Figaro which Joyce and my friend Nicole Cabell performed this Spring in Chicago.  Tune in here on July 3rd.

Speaking of Nicole... here's another one I want :)

She's Musetta

These should keep you all in good stead opera-wise until next month.  There's a lot of amazing music/theater being made!  here's to seeking it out...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bonus weekly pic

Rock on, originally uploaded by Alta Marie.

It was very hot outside, and so we made his onesie into a muscle shirt. pretty awesome. :)

Baby Picture of the Week

The first of the many sweaters that I knit for him while I was pregnant.  It was FINALLY cool enough to try it on!  he looks like such a little man...