Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Think I Can Live Here

We've been chipping away at the numerous tasks to be done inside the house over the last couple of weeks. Paint is pretty much done (except for dealing with the painter...long story). We spent several hours the other evening with my folks cleaning up the floors in preparation for the concrete sealer guy to come do a final cleaning and final sealing. When I say "clean up the floors" I really mean rip up all of the shredded "ram board" (read: thick construction paper) that was originally placed on the slab about 3 months ago. Once most of that was pulled up and piled on the porch, we went to work with brooms, shop-vacs, and scrapers to get up the texture and paint over spray. Again, several hours later, the place started to actually look like a home inside...a barren, echoing home, but a home none the less. I could almost picture the roaring wood burning stove, Jenna in the kitchen with pots, pans, rolling pins, etc. scattered all over the 200sq. ft. of counters with a maniacal grin on her face, and me lounging on the couch by the fire with a copy of Lonesome Dove in my hands. We're so close I can smell it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lubbock Women

Dwayne and his son Colby stopped by yesterday just as I was heading out to grab a bbq lunch at Don's, a little taco and bbq joint down the road.  (Remember that just about everything is a "taco and.." establishment in this area).  I grabbed sandwiches for the four of us and quickly rejoined the group who were comfortably settled by the campfire, beers in hand.

Dwayne was deep into storytelling, the theme of which focused on rattlesnakes and local wildlife, since Jer had just reported last week's rattler incident.  Dwayne's two sons are badasses, equally.  Although Kelly is arguably a badass in the more traditional sense.  He rides bulls, traps rattlers with his bare hands - the whole deal.  It's possible some of Dwayne's tales about Kelly are a little "tall" but then, I've met his son.  Kelly's not a large man, but he packs a punch with his toughness and stoic demeanor.  I've not seen him without a wad of chew in his bottom lip.  All of his boots are well worn, his buckle's large and polished, and his cowboy hat fits so well you know he only takes it off to sleep.  Although I've heard the story before, it never gets old watching Dwayne act out the time when Kelly drove home with a live rattlesnake.  His teenage son came up the driveway in his beat up oldsmobile.  One hand on the wheel, the other hand grasped behind the neck of a rattlesnake that he held out the driver's side window.  Snake talk always turns to the condition of the local wildlife and Dwayne reported that a "tiger sized" mountain lion was spotted on a wildlife camera just "down the way."  A tiger-sized mountain lion is definitely hyperbole, but still.  Down the way sounds too close for comfort, even though there's no telling if we're near it.  In a rare moment of seriousness, Dwayne cautioned us to "bring the Judge along any moonlight walks you get to takin' 'round here."  Rattlesnakes and mountain lion not 13 miles from the University of Texas campus?  I felt a distinct chill, and it wasn't the weather.

Soon enough though, the topic changed again to Dwayne's third favorite topic (behind wildlife and horses): his past or, more specifically - women.  What I haven't mentioned over the years since this cowboy rode his horses onto our land, is that Dwayne was a permenant fixture and honorary co-owner of Austin's "finest" gentleman's club, The Yellow Rose.  He still plays an integral role as co-smoker for The Yellow Rose each year when it enters the rodeo bbq cookoff.  Which is why it shouldn't have been surprising to learn that, for years, Dwayne was (of course) Santa Clause at The Yellow Rose.  Danced with the girls on stage in his Santa suit.  Like everything, he's got a picture to prove it.  Before heading out to go "listen to some pickin' at a beer joint" he got a little misty relaying his recent trip home to visit his momma in Lubbock.  "You can spend one whole week in Lubbock on your first night in town," he said before falling silent and clearly thinking of someone specific.  "Those Lubbock women," he said softly, "it's a fact of nature that there's more beautiful women, per capita, in Lubbock than any other place on earth.  You're real lucky if you get aholt of one of those women." 

He says stuff like that a lot in such a way that you feel he's almost weepy.  It makes me wonder about all the stories he hasn't told but know that he'll be back around next Sunday.  And surely something new will slip out amidst all the old stories he'll tell again.

Holly Jolly

So far, in our literal neck of the woods, it's been a very cowboy Christmas.  The past few weekends were spent fireside alternately killing rattlesnakes or discussing Dwayne's recent deer hunt.  Yesterday afternoon, after finishing a bbq lunch from Don's bbq (Don's a genius with potato salad, by the way), we lingered a few extra minutes by the embers, poking the fire with a twisted cedar branch.  Jer had the radio on but low enough that only a few watery strains of "Oh my golly it's a holly jolly Christmas..." made their way through the distance and smoke.  The song sounds better by a fire with some Lone Star. 

We got very little done inside the house this weekend due to the painters still working inside.  Not that I minded much.  The sun finally peeked out from clouds and rye grass started poking out of the ground.  Grass grows again in Texas!  The animals spent more time on pasture than hay this weekend and each donkey has green-ringed mouths for the first time in a year.  It's a beautiful sight to these drought ravaged, wannabe farmers.  But perhaps the most exciting benefit of the recent rain is that the pond has turned back into a swampy mud pit.  Christmas came early for our dogs, and especially Winston, who's little labrador eyes popped wide open when he spotted the water.  Happy holidays, ya'll.

Seamus drool.

grass grass grass grass!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Couple of Scenes From Last Weekend

Just a couple of additional shots from last weekend. With the burn ban lifted, we were able to attack some of the many piles of debris that have collected over the last year+ of drought.

And installed some of the exterior lights. Slowly but surely.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

oh Momma.

The verdict is still out about whether or not the tile was "worth it."  But what's "worth it" mean anyway when you're talking about stairs?  Subconsciously I think I was looking for a creative outlet, and boy oh boy, did I get it.  I will be happy to never handle grout again.  Unfortunately, I still have several rooms that need tiling.


Jenna and LuLu contemplate life.  And tile.

The grout is accidentally different colors.  Isn't that fantastic?!  (scowl)

This does not look like a farmhouse.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Things That Are Not Awesome

The following list is presented in no particular order, although the least awesome thing of all is saved for last.
Things That Are Not Awesome
1. The  9 hours spent hunched over stairs grouting tile that stopped making sense or looking nice as soon as I realized the extent of my stupidity choosing said tile. 

2. Having "Redneck Woman" stuck in my head like a skipping record.  I'm not knocking country music, mind you. But there are some lyrics you just don't want to start inexplicably singing out loud while grouting tiles that are apparently not intended for grout (please refer to #1)

3. Realizing that the most perfect name for our unnamed farm is the official name of a llama farm three "doors" down the road.  (Mesquite Bean Farm!  Come on.  Does it get any cuter than that?!)

4.  In the depths of winter, finding a rattlesnake at the bottom of a brush pile.

And the #1 thing that is NOT, under any circumstances, awesome:

5.  Upon killing rattlesnake by separating its head from its body, learning that a rattlesnake head will continue to lunge forward and bite while its headless body will writhe, rattle its tail and slither for over 8 hrs after losing its head.

Even if I tried people, I couldn't make this stuff up.  So there you have it.  A list of 5 things that would not make my Things That Are Awesome list. 

Which, incidentally, reads something like this:

Things That Are Awesome
1.  Having my mom help me start and Jeremy help me finish the most ludicrous tile project in the history of tile.

2. Having "Redneck Woman" stuck in my head.  Because it's pretty funny to sing, "Victoria's Secret, well their stuff's real nice, but I can find the same damn thing on a Wal-Mart shelf half price."  You go girl.

3. Knowing that you have a farm to name. 

4. Finding a rattlesnake in the winter and realizing your husband is also your #1 hero after bravely killing it with a shovel. 

5. (just because there were five items on the first list)  Eating hot soup after a long, cold day spent alternately tiling and considering whether condo living was not a better, more snake-free option.

Some Trim Pics

Don't those doors look great? (Someone please comment on Jenna's doors) Painting starts on Monday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Day Jeremy Made Me the Happiest Woman Alive

There are a compelling assortment of objects in front of me this damp and cold, late fall evening.  I'm gazing at a chilled bottle of Viognier from a local vineyard.  This is a favorite for us and stands out amongst the overly flashy companies that ooze "cute" in such a way that I gag just a little when driving by.  Becker is fairly simple.  Rustic.  It's got a lavendar field and harvests that crop along with the grapes, so I'm sold on this principle alone.  But their wines are delicious compared against many other Texas contenders.

Next to my chilled bottle of wine is a dutch oven filled with some bubbling concoction that I truly hope turns into a delicious soup, although its ultimate flavor is a best guess, since I deviated from the recipe.  What's a white bean and kale soup without some spiced sausage?  So in went the meat along with fresh herbs on hand and, we'll see.  I hope it's passable.  It will be warm, if nothing else.

In a mesh bag near the soup pot are a pile of Clementine's, a seasonal favorite, endearingly branded as Cuties with the image of a tangerine being unzipped. Marketing really works on this gal, so I'm sold by the little picture, but the flavors don't hurt the overall package much, either.

It's a pre-winter eve here in the heart of Texas.  The temperature has hovered just above 40 degrees for a few days, and it's been damp and chilly like a late January season.  Normally, this weather would knock me down and drag me out but the promise of my sister's holiday cookies and a Christmas tree - the nearing move - has got me fairly giddy.  Rain, cold, and gray skies?  BRING IT.  I've stocked up on wine and Cuties.  It's all good here.

Cold, wet weather stirs the most primal needs in most of us, I think.  Shelter, food, and a heat source are just about all that's needed to keep us ticking this time of year.  I guess it's something about those basic elements that always cause me to think again about what matters and what doesn't. And what matters most to me lately is stress relief.

Which is why we spent some time at the land yesterday for an impromptu painting bid, details of which are being reserved for their own post.  Maybe their own book.  I'm still reeling from the experience and from the multitudes of "personalities" I've encountered through this entire two-year long bidding process.  Let's just say that Jeremy and I exchanged more eye rolls, and mouthed "WTF" more times during this interview than has ever occurred over the course of this long story.  The painter got the job, by the way.  Due either to poor judgment on our parts or the fact that his behavior was odd-enough that we were intrigued.  Apparently the colorful neighbors and house build itself haven't created enough drama/humor in our lives for us to reject such a fabulous opportunity for another character story.

Which brings me to the whole stinkin' point of this note today:


Do you need me to repeat that?  Because I'd be happy to oblige.  Those words just look so pretty written down.

Maybe it was our impending fate; trowels in hand and electric wires wrapped around our bodies like chain.  Maybe it was the list we created yesterday morning detailing every last piece of work we signed up for to complete this project.  Whatever "it" is caused Jeremy to breathe deeply and say with his eyes closed and mouth set firmly - "Ok.  Get paint bids."

Oh.  Happy day.  So forgive this post which seems a little luxurious in its unnecessary description of food and drink.  But everything in my world just seems more vivid.  Brighter.  It's like I'm alive again after months spent worrying about how to get all the painting (trim, doors - THE CATHEDRAL CEILING ROOM) finished.  I tend to exaggerate - that is correct.  But, on my honor, this is truly the best thing that's happened in my whole entire life.  So please, wherever you are, raise a glass.  Isn't life beautiful?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A House via iPhone

Remember all the boo-hooing back at the beginning of the house build about our poor, broken camera?  You'd think, based on the sorry state of the various photos we've provided, that the camera was never replaced.  In fact, we immediately purchased a shmancy-ish DSLR little number in order to expertly capture the build for posterity.  All that trouble we went to and yet all of the house photos still manage to come to you via iPhone.  Sorry about that.  In our daily scramble to get from current house, through traffic, to land, all while packing car with various items requiring transport, along with three slobbering dogs and assorted food items - the camera somehow gets lost in the shuffle.  

So if you cock your head a little sideways and turn the lights up in your livingroom, you might actually get a sense for what I've photographed in these images.

Here we have two images, pre-wall texture, to display the first of approximately 15 lights and fans that will go into the living/kitchen/dining.  That there downrod above the light?  Hand crafted by Jeremy himself.  Due to the slant of the ceiling, each rod has to be a different length.  That's just another of the many, "I can't believe we didn't think of that" types of issues we've encountered.  And since we're installing all lights/fans/plumbing fixtures ourselves, well, there's a whole lot more forehead slapping we'll be doing.  Regardless.  There's a light!!!!  In the kitchen!!!!  It's a big time out here folks.

And here is the house as it looked this evening:

That is actual, real, finished, totally done, completed drywall - floated, taped, and textured.  The crew packed up and made room for the trim crew coming out Monday.  This means the final stage of the house build will begin exactly (exactly!) three months from the day it started.  Trim involves baseboards, closet shelving, and hanging interior doors.  For more information about the restoration and use of old doors - please come back next week.  Or maybe don't come back. Because all I'll have to say about restoring and using old doors can be summed up in one word: "DON'T." (Jenna says, as she clears throat and looks awkwardly at the floor:  What was I thinking?!).  

Regardless of the door saga, which requires it's own blog and could easily become a miniseries on the Lifetime Channel for Women, I am quite taken with this house.  Quite.  Taken.  After wandering through the place this evening repeatedly, just looping around and around, through exterior doors, around porches, into another door, up the stairs into the attic, down the stairs, into the master bedroom, into the closet, etc (and repeat) - I finally made my way onto the back pasture.  On a chilly evening, the animals are at their finest, and I hate to miss an opportunity to stand in the pasture while the donkeys chase circles around me.  It's a lot funnier to watch donkey chasing whilst standing among them, then from across the fence.  As their excitement subsided and Boo's hysterical galloping died down, I stood in the oak grove and looked at the house.  In that moment the memory of this time last year slammed into me, full force.  That immovable feeling of running under water.  To be standing there with the house before me, knowing there are walls in there, a septic system installed, and not much separating us from a key to the front door - is unreal.  Luckily, the dull "thud, thud" sound of Chula kicking Boo while he bit her back, stirred me from my overly emotional reverie.  It's no good to think "where you were" or "how long it took" or attempt to measure how much energy was spent in any which way.  What matters is where you are.  Now.

Pat yourself on the back and roll up your sleeves.  And get back to work getting somewhere.  

When it Rains

It's started raining in Texas again.  I'm not sure exactly what weather phenomena occurred that allowed moisture to build up in the atmosphere above this great state, and then to actually fall from the clouds in little droplets.  Whatever the name of this phenomena, I am grateful for it.  Or at least, I am - in retrospect.

The funny thing about our weather (well, not much has been funny about our weather down here) is how quickly we miss the sunshine and dry conditions as soon as they're gone.  Let's take last weekend as a "for example."  So, for example, last weekend it rained for such an inconveniently long amount of time (for hours! in a row!) that our normally trench-like, cracked earth at the land turned into rivers of soup and slush.  Although I tracked the forecast for days in giddy anticipation of some rain, upon waking Saturday to the cold and wet conditions, overcast sky, and realization that I would shortly be forced outside, my mood turned sour.  Of all mornings, this was not the time for rain.  We had an early appointment at the land with a gentleman named Ruben.  Ruben was in charge of the drywall crew and, therefore, Ruben was in charge of spraying the texture.  As a person who's lived under popcorned ceilings and incredibly bumpy walls for too long, I have a personal aversion to wall texture.  While I've cared about very little in regards to the exterior of this house, I have lots of opinions about the inside.  Ruben and I were going to meet, he would spray test samples of texture, and I would formally sign off on a choice.  After this thrilling (read: heavy sarcasm) endeavor, Jeremy and I would then jump into the car and drive south for an annual Thanksgiving meal with his extended family.  A short day, it would not be.  

The early drive to the land and foreign sound of rain splashing on the car's roof lulled me back to sleep.  I did not wake until jarred from my stupor with Jer's muttered, "no, no, NO, craaaaaaap!!!" and the distinct sensation of sliding gently sideways.  When I finally opened my eyes, I found that we had just come through our front gate, attempted to turn left up the hill, and instead slid off our road, coming to a soft stop in a pile of mud.  Moments later, I watched us get lower against the fence line.  We were stuck.  And we were sinking.  And OH YES, that's RIGHT.  You can't drive a car onto our property in the rain.  We both cursed heavily for 5 seconds.  I shouted something to the effect of "I TOLD YOU WE SHOULD HAVE PUT IN THE DRIVEWAY FIRST."  Jer rolled his eyes so hard that his entire head moved, and then we jumped out into the swamp.  

Our arrival - up the hill, around the bend, then down the hill, onto the front porch - was a pathetic sight.  I'm sure of it.  My already temperamental hair which has, since birth, been undecided about whether it's curly or straight, had frizzed into something the size of a new head.  Both of our jeans were rolled to our knees and mud encrusted each of our shoes.  Our faces were wet and shirts were soaked.  I won't speak for Jeremy who just looks "rugged" in such conditions, but I was completely wilted.  All of this on only one cup of coffee, mind you.  So I was damn well hoping that Ruben was ready and waiting for us, texture samples in hand.  Of course, upon questioning various members of the crew, we were told variations of the same story: Ruben not only wasn't there.  Ruben wasn't coming.  In a few cases it was not clear that Ruben even existed.  I could control myself no longer and decided it was acceptable to display my annoyance in a hyperbolic fashion.  I stomped up and down the porch, mud flying off my shoes, poodle-hair bouncing, shouting for someone to "frickin' call frickin' Ruben," when suddenly a man appeared around the bend, in a similar state of disarray: muddy, frizzy, and wilted.  At that point, one of the crew members pointed: "Oh, Ruben is here after all.  He called me - I forgot to tell you.  He got stuck in the mud."

So, as with most land stories, Bambi and Jeremy joined forces and became everybody's hero.  He drove the tractor down to Ruben's truck which had come to a similarly sideways stop beside our own drowned vehicle.  He extracted the air compressor from Ruben's truck (needed for the spray test), drove it to the house for said test, and once the test was completed and all parties (Me, just me.  Because I was the idiot who'd called the meeting in the first place) were satisfied - Bambi, The Chain, Jeremy, Ruben, and Ruben's employee all returned to the pathetic site of the stuck vehicles.  After attaching The Chain (another unsung hero), beneath the car, Bambi pulled Ruben and truck backwards down the driveway, out through the gate and sent him on his way.  Finally, it was our turn to pull Jeremy's car from the deep - a process that Ruben made look quite easy.  Of course, I attempted to actually steer the car out while Jeremy pulled it, which caused us to almost go through a fence at one point, and into a tree at another point.  And I wondered why, while always funny in retrospect, all of our land adventures/debacles involve so much cussing.    

View of Bambi and Chain after the rescue

In the end, our stuck vehicle was unstuck.  And the mud?  It washed off our hands and faces.  It came off the wheels of the car.  The jeans got rolled down, poodle hair was flattened.  And we made it to Granny's house in time for another fabulous meal.  And the drywall texture?  As far as texture goes, it's damn near perfect.  It better be.  Or at least I've told myself it's the most beautiful texture that was ever sprayed, just to make Saturday morning worth the  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Finishing" Touches

Ok, it may have been a little premature, but Jenna really wanted to get those porch lights up. They do look pretty great.

Insulation & Drywall

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Would We Do Without Spotlights?

With the recent "fall back" time change along with our house build related activities ramping up, I expect to get a lot of use out of my spot lights. Now that the sun sets around 5:30, any "after work" activity at the house will require some artificial lighting. The last few evenings have been spent putting together the ~15ft down rods for the lighting in the "great room." We're trying to utilize the scissor lift while it's out here, so we have a small window between when the sheet rock is finished and textured and the scissor lift gets picked up. So, I've been prepping the "great room" lighting so we can throw those lights up there in the next couple of days. Throw in the mix the various family activities for Thanksgiving and some drama at work and it's been a pretty exciting week. As I mentioned, the sheet rock is going up this week, so the rooms are starting to take shape beyond just see through walls. It's looking pretty real...and exciting.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bottling the Moon

This weekend the stair risers were tiled, back door paint scraped off the glass, electric trenched into place for septic installation.  In a word:  busy. 

It wasn't until I sat on the first of 18 steps, trowel in hand, thinset already caked in my hair that it occurred to me how desperately I've been waiting for this moment.  And by this moment, yes - I'm talking about trowels and thinset and sweat and eye rolling.  Both moms came out for the event, and the combination of family and my engineer husband pacing over the crookedness of tiles made the day overwhelming in a way that's actually really fabulous.  Do you know what I mean?  What I mean is that we're getting into the house-y part of the house.  The stuff I've clipped out of magazines and placed into a three ringed binder that's gone ragged over the past two years.  Everyone has an opinion, and everyone's worried about things being just right, and it's really wonderful to finally hold objects in your hand that you've looked at in pictures for so long.  These aren't big things, in the grand scheme, but they're manageable and fun - and that's something. 

We ended the night on the front porch.  The moon came up from the east a pock-marked orb the color of pumpkin.  There were crickets.  An owl.  The whole deal.  And Jer asked if there's a way to bottle the feeling we still get when we see the moon rise and hear crickets.  That "itisunfreakingbelieveablethatthisismylifeIamsoverylucky" feeling.  He said that next year, the novelty will have faded.  It'll be just another moonrise.  Just another cricket chorus.  It'll be nothing special. 

The notion of forgetting makes me sad.  Which is possibly why we started this blog in the first place.  It's something to return to if we forget, and these entries serve as bookmarks in time.  And that's how I feel about Saturday night and seeing the moon come up over the hills.  It won't always be enough to make me stand still and take notice.  But right now it still stops me every time, to have the world sprawled out so peacefully before me.  I won't take it for granted.  I won't.  I will never take the land, the house, the front porch, and the moonrise for granted.  Never.

But if (when) I do, I hope to find my way back to this bookmark and these early pictures to conjure this big, big feeling of gratitude.    

Oh. Boy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dusk in a Winter Coat

I pulled up to the house this evening right before that moment when the sun sinks behind the woods.  The cows were licking the trough that hasn't seen grain in at least a week.  For cows, their memories are long and their optimism is impressive.  I wonder how many times they've checked the trough since it was last filled with grain.  I scratched Seamus's head through the fence.  He stared back, blowing drool bubbles as he always does when he sees me, since I probably appear to him as a giant bucket of feed..  Somewhere there was a fire burning.  Woodsmoke came through the forest on the breeze, and the cows both lifted their noses, their curly foreheads jumbled and bouncing in the wind.  Sometime last week their bodies exploded into thick winter coats, making the curls spring out in little bouquets on their foreheads.   

And the sun sank just then - the pasture cast in a hue so artificially golden it appeared staged, like movie scenes shot by hopelessly romantic cinematographers.  The house was behind me, also appearing there in the woods like a set.  Because after so much time thinking and waiting and planning and scheming, it's not real yet.  Not quite yet.

On the drive home I noticed my fingertips were covered in a thin layer of dirt, the souvenir you take after petting the animals.  I remembered those Wednesday lunch trips to the land three years ago.  After an hour in the pasture I hated to wash my hands when I was back in the office.  That sweet smell of musk and dirt coats the fingers.  It used to get me through the second half of uninspired workdays.  Just a simple reminder that no matter where I was sitting, there was this other place nearby.  There were cows and hay and dried leaves and quiet spaces that could care less about deadlines, frankly.  I know it sounds strange, that I smelled my hand the entire drive home tonight, just to recall the sensation of standing in silence at a pasture fence.  But if I cared about sounding strange, I wouldn't have cow dirt on my hands in the first place.      

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ode to Sweden

I've spent a lot of time at IKEA since it was built here in Austin a few years ago.  At first I showed up because of the novelty factor.  My northern friends repeatedly mentioned this home furnishing mecca when filling their NYC and DC apartments for the first time.  It was always IKEA this or IKEA that, and I felt really left out.  I showed up at the store for the first time for no better reason than gaining frame of reference.  Basically, when my hot-shot, big city dwelling friends mentioned the place, I just wanted to be able to say something like, "Oh yea - IKEA really DOES have the best selection of closet organizers.  And those big yellow bags??  Genius."  So it was nothing beyond the desire to add to conversation that first lured me through its doors.

But once I was in, forget about it.  I was smitten.  You guys - they sell heart-shaped pillows with arms!  And where else on earth can you buy a complete set of fabulous wine glasses for a total of $5?  The brightly patterned pillow coverings seem to somehow go with everything.  And the food.  Don't -NO - do NOT get me started on the food.  Greek salads, pork ribs, CREPES (!), salmon and Swedish meatballs (complete with a Swedish flag emblazoned toothpick) - all in the same cafeteria.  Even the ice from the ice machine is adorable.

I entered the store for the first time, completely certain I'd roll my eyes and walk out.  Now I return again and again because the place makes me so damn happy.  Therefore, when it came to the house and the tricky business of finding affordable kitchen cabinetry, the solution was a no-brainer.  I've been playing around with IKEA's online kitchen design software for months.  On three (ok, five) different occasions I've gone into the store and walked through the fake kitchens, playing with the soft close drawers (FYI - it does not matter how hard you try to slam them, they will only close softly.  Trust me).  I've run my hands over the insanely affordable oak butcher block counters, watched the constantly looping video they play that shows their cabinets withstand fire, drops from buildings and sledgehammers.  I am a Swedish marketing company's target audience.  Sensationalist propaganda mixed with clean lines and sensible solutions?  Sold!

So last night, I was pretty excited to hop in the car with Jeremy and (finally!) head into IKEA to purchase the lusted after and highly researched cabinets.  After a Swedish dinner (complete with a flag toothpick), we left the cafeteria and spent two hours in the kitchen department ordering cabinets and a countertop.  This represented one of the larger credit charges since the build began, but the unexpected 20% discount was a welcome surprise, and the store's ambiance - tinged with Swedish ingenuity - made the general experience quite pleasant.  Unfortunately, our American ingenuity completely failed us last night.  Knowing full well that we may bring merchandise home, we still managed to forget the truck.  We spent a painful 20 minutes on the car ride home separated by a 3' x 6' wooden countertop - Jer's head smashed awkwardly into the driver side window, one eye obstructed by a slab of wood, and my body pushed completely up against the dashboard, face plastered to the windshield, the counter cutting into my back and completely stopping blood flow to my legs.  But, when it comes to Swedish cabinets at a discount price, maybe blood flow's overrated.  Regardless, like Craigslist, IKEA has changed my life.

And speaking of life changers, the porches appear almost complete.  I can't adequately convey the feeling of standing on that porch.  So I won't try.  Instead, I'll just share them in all their glory (along with the port-a-potty). 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quick Status Update

Trim, porches, and roof awnings...oh my.