Are you guys getting sick of looking at my naked, hole-y stairs yet? Yeah, me too.
So I went ahead and scraped out all the soft wood puddy from the staple holes
wondering what is wrong with me and look forward to refilling the holes with a hardening putty soon. But first, my interior decorator reader Catherine suggested I may want to go over the risers with mineral spirits to get rid of any wood putty residue. I thought that sounded like a great idea. I have a big jug of mineral spirits in the basement from the last project I did (eons ago) and was all set to wipe down the risers until I read the instructions on the back of the can and got really paranoid: “Extremely toxic…only use in a well ventilated area…wear a Haz-Mat suit….don’t light any matches or you will explode.” Stuff like that. Suddenly, I wasn’t so interested in this product. Just how ventilated is “well ventilated” anyway? I’m not sure my stairs were sufficiently airy. I blame Katie — something about having a three month old baby in the house makes the thought of using toxic chemicals less appealing. I chickened out and went over the holes with soap and water instead. This could be totally wishful thinking but I think they cleaned up pretty good.
I don’t see any residue, do you?
What do you think, Catherine? Can I get away with cheating with soap and water here?
(A little DIY aside: Any time Jake and I do any kind of home improvement project involving chemicals, he never takes the recommended precautionary measures. He never wears the latex gloves, the gas masks, the goggles, etc. When I nag him about it, he always says the same thing: “Aah, it’ll be alright. Aah, it’ll be alright. Aah, it’ll be alright.” It’s like he thinks he’s one of those Young Invincibles they’re always talking about on the news. But just because you can’t see the toxic fumes eating away the lining of your stomach and other organs doesn’t mean they’re not there. Men!)
Besides, the runner will cover nearly all of the step so even if a little wood putty residue shows through the paint, no one will see it. That’s me: The Lazy Decorator.
Ooh, that Dash & Albert runner is gonna look so good.
Next up on my to-do list: Re-putty those holes. I’m just a dynamo of activity over here.
Less than a month after Katie was born, I was asked to write about how it felt going from one child to two for C-Ville Weekly Kids. Now that Katie is nearly three months old, and I’ve had time to settle into my role as mom of two a bit more, I’ve also had more time to contemplate those changes — what it’s been like going from a mom of one to two. Continue reading here if you’d like!
Saturday night, I went to the Virginia Colleges Equality Gala at Washington & Lee University here in Lexington with a few friends and it was one the weirdest — that is, funnest — events I’ve been to since moving to this town.
Allow me to set the scene: Lexington is a Civil War town steeped in tradition and bluegrass. Robert E. Lee was the President of W&L after the Civil War. He and Stonewall Jackson are buried here.Lee’s beloved horse Traveller is buried here. So to say this town has one foot in the grave is not hyperbole. Lee and Jackson own this town! The two colleges — Washington & Lee and Virginia Military Institute — are similarly tradition bound. Polished W&L frat boys wear bow ties without irony. VMI cadets are as starched as their pants (I can say this because I’m married to a former cadet).
So it was a sweet surprise to see drag queens bumping and grinding against the conservative ethos of this town on Saturday night. The queens, resplendent in sequins, boas and feathers, plucked one fine young man after another from the dance floor to bring out the guys’ inner sex gods. (The drag queens didn’t really waste much time on actual women.) The dirty dancing taking place before me made Miley Cyrus’s twerk fest against Robin Thicke look like a 1950s hands holding roller skating party.
So imagine me — farmhouse living, chicken killing, mom-clog wearing me — looking around at the fine citizens on the dance floor and juxtapose that with a drag queen simulating illicit acts against a wall with random strangers. It was crazy and outrageous. I hadn’t seen anything like that since living in New York. I kept looking around at my friends, asking, “Are we actually seeing this? In Lexington?” It was as if Mayberry had been transported to a raunchy gay club in Sydney.
And that wasn’t even the climax of the party (no pun intended). That came later. The DJ had been building steadily to a crescendo with the music — Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, etc., etc., synthetic pop that is as danceable as it is cloying — when my friends Jeff, Maria and I realized were listening to JUSTIN BIEBER at the very apex of the party….that point of explosion when everyone is swirling and dancing and going crazy with the music. Or at least we would have been had we not been listening to Justin Bieber. That is when I realized a) I should probably be home with Jake (he was at drill all weekend and was too wiped out to come out) and b) the DJ must be flogged at once. Justin Bieber at the height of a party??!? It is almost difficult to write.
All of this to say, I will be attending this party next year. It was awesome. (Except for the Justin Bieber.)
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I still haven’t installed a new stair runner onto our steps. This project is taking me forever! Something about having a new baby and a husband who works his butt off outside the home makes my DIY home improvement projects more of a figment of my imagination.
The first thing I had to do was pull out remaining staples from the risers (see our botched stair runner installation here). This is not easy to do as staples are not designed to come out. There was a lot of groaning and cursing during this part. Then I went back over and filled all the holes with wood putty. I was halfway through my little project before I realized the putty wasn’t hardening in the holes. It remained soft and pliable like Play-Doh, which meant I couldn’t paint over it.
I explained my problem to Jake, who looked at me like I have a screw loose and asked me why I didn’t buy wood putty that hardened. Exsqueeze me? Why make a wood putty that doesn’t harden? I assumed wood putty was wood putty, but turns out they make different kinds and I ended up buying — big surprise here — the wrong one. This is the kind I should have used.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention I have a terrible track record when it comes to reading directions. I see the word “wood putty” on the can, I go home and use it. I don’t really bother to read the part about the application process. But can someone please explain to me why you’d ever need a non hardening wood putty? What are you supposed to do with it? Make small woodland figurines? Use it as ear plugs then scrape it out when you’re done?
So then I had to go back over all my newly filled holes and scrape all the wood putty out. With a tiny screw driver. Yeah, this is something I have chosen to do with my two hours of free time during the day while Katie naps. I begin to understand why most people don’t have stair runners or pay someone else to install them or just live forever amid a general sense of interior drabness because home prettifying is a pain in the butt.
This was a week ago. Now I have to go back over all the steps and refill the holes with wood putty that hardens.
The upside to this dreary story is that a new Dash & Albert stair runner has been selected and ordered and is just waiting to be installed.
I can do this. I can. So help me, I can.
A woman came up to me today while Katie and I were having lunch with some friends. This lady was one of those very friendly, approachable, extroverted types — always laughing and cracking jokes with impeccable eye makeup. While oohing and aahing over the baby, she mentioned she was one of nine — 7 sisters, 1 brother! — and that her mom was so busy with all the kids she didn’t have time for a lot of nonsense.
As an example, she said that whenever she or any of her siblings whined to their mom, her mom would look down and ask, “Are you bleeding?”
“Then I don’t want to hear about it,” the mom would say and walk off.
I gotta try that one the next time June tattles on Jake.
Or if any of the kids misbehaved or threw a tantrum in public, the mom would walk over to the child, clasp them by the arm and smile sweetly while digging her fingernails deep into their flesh, eliciting moans of pain (this was in the South in the 50s when appearances and proper behavior were everything), and ask, “Are you okay? Are you sure? I just want to make sure you’re okay.” Passersby thought the mom was showing utmost patience and concern while the kid practically fainted from sheer physical duress.
“Back then,” my new friend told me. “Moms didn’t hover.”
No kidding. Moms brought the pain.
(P.S. June’s blue teeth are from sucking a blue lollipop. Never again!)
Believe it or not, there is a brass unicorn underneath that layer of grime. I picked it up at a thrift shop for $2. Because no interior is complete without a brass unicorn, right?
It took a little elbow grease and some brass polish but I got her looking mighty purty.
I don’t have a perfect place for it yet but over the sink will do for now.
I also picked up this brass fish plate for $4. I thought it had a fun Jonathan Adler look to it.
I couldn’t clean it completely spotless but it shined up okay. I put it in my bathroom as a display tray for my perfume bottles. And what do you know…I’ve been wearing more perfume lately.
That phrase pops into my brain every time Jake tries to dress June. Some of the looks he comes up with to send her off to Montessori in the morning are so bizarre that I have no choice but to think he dresses her this way to get out of the responsibility of dressing her.
Continue reading here.
A surefire way to feel good about the universe and your place in it: Bring a baby to Costco on a Wednesday morning and watch the older shoppers flock around your cart slaying you with their pithy baby/shopping cart one liners (granted, Katie was nestled in the cart amidst industrial jars of Dijon and towering bags of unsalted nuts). A few of the lines I heard today:
“Does little one come with a price check?”
“Costco really does have the best selection, don’t they?”
“On what aisle did you find this little cutie?”
“Where’d you find the nuts? I like nuts.” (This guy wasn’t referring to Katie; he was genuinely interested in my nuts.)
“Oh, they grow up so fast, don’t they? My little ones are already 63 and 65.”
Costco during the workweek is the best.
Serving sizes keep getting smaller and smaller! I recently noticed Haagen-Dazs is no longer available in pints, but 14 ounce containers. The folks at Ben & Jerry’s have also taken note, evidenced by the messaging around their lids. I thought that was a very clever marketing ploy….until I looked at the two ice creams’ ingredients. Haagen-Dazs is a purist’s list of a mere five ingredients: cream, skim milk, egg yolks, ground vanilla beans….while Ben Jerry’s ingredients is an inch long featuring various chemical sounding products I can’t pronounce. No wonder B&J is still a pint: Their ice cream is cheaper to produce.
Aaah, Ted Nugent.
Just when I think he’s faded away into obscurity and enveloped himself in a swath of elephant pelts, he somehow finds his way back into the news.
I’ll never forget the time he gave an eloquent motivational speech at my high school…