October 26, 2008

Do you want to form an alliance?

Posted in Home Improvement tagged , , at 2:57 pm by Lauren

In the summer, when Rebecca and Chris visited us in our new house the first time, we all talked a lot about home improvement – and how much work we had to do.

Then we had a bright idea: we’d trade labor. Once a month, one couple would visit the other and tackle a project in the house. Then the hosting couple would provide a fresh home-cooked meal, we’d have a sleepover, and be on our way the next day.

And so we primed their dining room and breakfast room and painted their ceilings in September. Becca went above and beyond with a meal of lamb kebabs over couscous and various delicious Indian sides.

This weekend was our turn to host, and in the past twenty-four hours, our kitchen has been transformed. (Unfortunately, while we come up with bright ideas every once in a while, taking “before” pictures wasn’t one of them this weekend.) We started with a yellow sponge-painted kitchen and office area. We now have a beautiful green-gray kitchen and a primed and taped office area. Allen and I will finish off the office today and even start on the sunroom. How’s that for motivation?

We fed them of course: a Spanish tortilla (potato omelet), bruleed sweet potatoes, cucumber and tomato salad, pineapple sorbet, and honey-roasted pears. All of the veggies save the potatoes in the Spanish tortilla were from our Washington’s Green Grocer fruit and veggie box.

I love how fast the work goes when you’ve got three good friends right there next to you, joking and listening to music and just passing the time. Unfortunately, the busy holiday season means we won’t meet again in painting clothes until January at their place. But it’s something to look forward to!

October 25, 2008

Cats love us; mice fear us!

Posted in cats tagged , , at 10:43 am by Lauren

Just another drowsy Saturday morning. Allen and I wake up, look at each other, exchange a few words. I pull the covers higher, and Allen rolls out of bed to take a shower.

He doesn’t get very far.

“Lauren, they caught a mouse.”

A what? He must mean a catnip mouse. Or – is there seriously a live mouse outside our bathroom?

“Lauren, they caught a mouse and decapitated it.”

Oh. Oh dear. While we were sleeping, our cats caught a mouse, brought it upstairs, decapitated and disemboweled it. Ouch. And gross.

On the bright side, they didn’t feel the need to present it to us on our bed. And Allen picked up the pieces.

October 22, 2008

Ode to the guest room

Posted in Daily life, Home Improvement, Moving on up tagged , , , , at 6:31 pm by Lauren

You are empty and so blue

Blue walls, blue carpet, blue corkboard, blue beadboard

And so empty

I thought at first:

A queen, and friends will come.

(And they came without the bed, and they slept on the floor.)

But out with the air mattress!

Empty guest room no more!

Two twins, so many options

Separate as daybeds, together a king.

One day a bunk bed?

Not empty, still blue

But where are the mattresses?

October 20, 2008

Skeletons in the closet

Posted in Moving on up tagged , , at 10:46 pm by Lauren

I went upstairs to take a shower on Sunday and ended up spending two hours cleaning out my closet. When we moved in on July 26, I wheeled a suitcase full of clothing into the back of my new walk-in closet. Then I brought in a couple of other grocery bags and boxes of clothes and dumped those on the floor. And then I spent the next three months spreading them around in different patterns on the floor.

So on Sunday, subsequent to last week’s big Ann Taylor Loft save-a-ganza (where Cate and I spent some $185 on $500 worth of clothing), everything made it on to hangers or folded onto shelves. The weirdest part? It doesn’t take up nearly half of the closet space – maybe a third. So I guess I need to go shopping again.

October 17, 2008

Pax’ secret

Posted in cats, family tagged , , , at 6:00 pm by Lauren

Pax the cat is fabulous with children. Katie came over today, and Pax let her pet him, kiss him, and even step on his tail without protest. Trouble, the fearless one, retreated to the basement when faced by this other fiesty animal. But Pax was calm and tolerant. Katie even picked up the catnip mouse and shook it over Pax’ head, and rather than swat at her with claws out (as he does when I do that), he watched her calmly and only went for the mouse when she set it down. Where did our cat get these instincts? (Maybe it has something to do with putting up with his mischievous brother.)

The cutest part was when Stephanie and Katie got ready to leave. Katie didn’t want to go, but we told her she could give the cats kisses before she left. So she bent down towards Pax’ face, and suddenly she jumped straight up and clapped her hands to her nose because his whiskers ticked her. It was just adorable.

October 10, 2008

Country roads

Posted in Exploring, Travel tagged , , , at 4:14 pm by Lauren

In just a couple of hours, Allen and I will jump in my grandma’s car and head for Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. We’re spending our weekend at Highacre, a beautiful red house on top of town. Highacre is owned by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club members, of which Regina’s parents are members, and we have often split the week at Harpers Ferry with them in the past five years.

Allen and I first went to Harpers Ferry during what we called The Spring of the Civil War. Weekend after weekend, we explored different Civil War sites, including Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Gettysburg (though that happened in the fall). And one cold weekend, we stayed in Harpers Ferry, hiked up to Maryland Heights, and decided we’d keep coming back. Now we’re nearing our tenth visit (but who counts), and we got engaged there.

So I’m really looking forward to another weekend in Harpers Ferry. It’s the perfect setting for this fall weather. We’ll swing on the porch (and I’ll stitch), hike Maryland Heights (of course!), and wander the town-cum-national-park. So, back to packing!

October 7, 2008

Birthday girl

Posted in Daily life, family tagged , , , at 10:39 pm by Lauren

My little niece is two years old!

It’s funny – I’m still getting used to being able to say I have a niece. And yet it’s been two years!

Stephanie and Ryan taught her to play along in a little dialogue about her birthday:

“Two years ago, Mommy was in the hospital, and what did Katie say?”

“I wanna get out!”

“And then when you arrived, we said, ‘Hello, Katherine Emma,’ and what did you say?”

“I’m here, Mommy!”

Stephanie also taught Katie to say, “I’m going to be two!” before her birthday, so that after her birthday happened, Katie kept saying, “I’m going to be two!” and was having real trouble switching to “I’m two!” We would all say in unison, “NOOOOO!” and Katie would amend, “I’m two!”

After dinner at the Majestic Cafe in Old Town Alexandria, we went back to Steph and Ryan’s for cake. Katie was convinced that the cake represented her birthday, and she kept pointing to the cake and yelling to everyone who would listen, “That’s my birthday RIGHT THERE!”

In any case, her birthday was darn good.

Happy birthday, Katie!