Monday, February 15, 2016

Cold Weather Sucks

But badass is Daryl on Walking Dead? Finally he gets to kick some ass and I'm happy to see him being heroic rather than moping.
I am definitely not a hot weather person. If I were Mother Nature, every day in Jersey would be about 60-65 degrees and sunnyish - not too hot, not too cold. Perfect weather for jeans, a t-shirt, a cardigan or light jacket, and either boots or sandals depending on my mood. So don't think I'm a person who only wants 85 degree days and sun. I like it to be on the chilly side, and even a 40 degree day can make me smile because it means I can wear a cute coat and over the knee boots with a pretty Irish-knit sweater.

But Mother Nature has been messing with us for pretty much the whole winter. I mean, on Christmas Day it was in the 60's and then we had over 2 feet of snow during a recent blizzard, and it's been varying between warmish and coldish through most of the season. Totally inconsistent and wacky. However, now it is just downright cold.

Our thermostats are registering around zero and below, and then when you add the wind to  it, it's just a little too North Poley for me. Yesterday, I woke up to find that my house was an ice cube. I felt the radiators and there was heat coming out of them, and the boiler was working as well. WTF? I had someone from PSE&G come out to check things out and they basically told me that everything is working the way it should - it is just so friggin cold that the heat in the house just isn't enough to combat it. JFC.

So then, the bathroom situations happened. Our downstairs bathroom toilet froze - meaning that the water flushed down but then would not refill. Hubby took it apart and tried to fix it, but there was nothing he could do. Last night, I was frozen to the bone so I went to take a shower in the master bathroom. I start the water and then get undressed....and by then, the shower (it's a stall shower) was full and nearly overflowing. Hubby took a look at that as well and found that whatever was in the pipes (I guess just general pipe sludge, ew) had frozen. We tried to defrost it with boiling water to no avail. Finally, after a good hour, the water went down but by then I was hibernating under the covers and the shower had to wait until morning.

Long story short - winter sucks and it needs to be spring now.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Soundtrack of My Life

Music has always been a driving force in my life. Even now, if I hear a certain song it will bring me right back to that moment in time in my mind, no matter how long ago that moment might be, I feel like I have a running soundtrack to my life....and here it is:

The Beatles - Octopus' Garden:
The Beatles - Her Majesty
John Cougar - Pink Houses:
The Manhattans - Shining Star:
Van Halen - Jump:
Don Henley - Boys of Summer:
Grease 2 Soundtrack - Back to School:
Guns n' Roses - Patience:
John Cougar Mellencamp - Wild Nights
John Cougar Mellencamp - Last Chance
Pearl Jam - Even Flow:
Pearl Jam - Black:
Hole - Violet:
Van Halen - Why Can't This Be Love?
Husker Du - Could You Be The One?:
Soup Dragons - I'm Free:
Goo Goo Dolls - Two Days in February:
Fugazi - Margin Walker:
Four Seasons - Can't Take My Eyes Off You:
Destiny's Child - Lose My Breath:
White Stripes - Fell in Love With a Girl:
Hole - Beautiful Son:
John Mellencamp - Lonely Ol' Night
White Stripes - Seven Nation Army:
My Chemical Romance - Famous Last Words:
Lana Del Rey - basically all of Born To Die:
The Beatles - Her Majesty (again, for a different reason):
Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball:
Pearl Jam - Sirens:

I was going to write a little about each song and why it struck a chord with me at particular times in my life...but I decided not to do that. I truly don't need to write it out, because when I just look at the title of a song, it brings me to the pink houses we rented every summer down the shore, or dancing with friends at the Johnny Cougar concert, or my husband yelling at me to turn down the White Stripes and me turning it up even louder. A whole story on each isn't needed because when I hear the song, I see the whole picture in my mind. Music is such a wonderful thing!

(And, if you really need to see how wordy I can get with these memories, read this about the song Even Flow and how it changed the course of my life.)

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Paralyzations Via Renovations

First: is paralyzation a word? Apparently not...but it is now!

There is so much that needs to be done in my house. I'm talking major renovations that are going to cost good money and lots of time. One is the outside of the house. I've got an old Tudor-style home, built in 1932. It's got brick, siding, wood shingles, and wood accents...and all are in need of replacement (well, I guess not the brick. Lucky me!). With that comes a new sliding glass door going out to the deck (or French doors, perhaps), a new front door, a new side door, and a new garage door. This is some costly stuff.

Then, I've got two bathrooms upstairs that are in need of replacement. The main hallway bathroom is huge and has a big jacuzzi tub...that does not drain, and therefore can't be used. All of the fixtures are black, so they collect dust like crazy. There's a pedestal sink, which I thought I would love because it looks so pretty...but it sucks. You can't put anything on it (like a brush or hairdryer or makeup while you're using them) and you can't store anything under it (like towels or medicine or whatever). It has bright makeup lights like you would see in a movie star's dressing room. Way too much for me. And the worst part is the wallpaper. It has three wallpapers, to be exact - the bottom is black with little while shield-shaped figures on it. The top is grey without much of anything special. And the middle - oh the middle. It has Trojan horses, in black, white and gold, traipsing around the room. HORRIBLE. The only thing I like about this bathroom is the beautiful chandelier I put in a few years back. Other than that, it is huge with so much potential and I hate nearly every square inch of it.

My master bathroom on the other hand is small, with only a stall shower (no tub). I could probably live with that if the tub in the other bathroom worked. But the worst part of the master bath is that it was last renovated in the 60's or 70's so it has that lovely avocado-green tile on the bottom half of the walls. I've painted the top half white and put some awesome artwork in there to try to cut the green...but honey,  it's GREEN. It needs to come down.

And my kitchen is another source of renovation fever. The wood cabinets were painted a number of years ago and I can live with them...but the floor is the ugliest brown linoleum and the countertops are wood-patterned formica. Horrendous. There is some charm in there, though - a brick archway between the kitchen and breakfast nook, wood beamed ceilings, built in cabinets in the nook. But still, the floors and counters and layout have to go. Again, I've decorated around it all and it's not terrible...but it's time for a reno.

Basically, I am overwhelmed by all of the construction that would have to be done. The big bathroom  and master bathroom have to be gutted...and my hope is to extend the master bath to the length of the house so I can have a bigger bathroom and add a second walk-in closet to the room. The kitchen is always a huge undertaking. And the outside of the house...ugh, we got one estimate at $30,000. And that's something that no one will even really notice!

Since I am overwhelmed by the idea of construction, I have turned my sights on my bedroom. It needs no construction. It's a big room with lots of potential. For some reason, when we moved in, I wanted faux paint on the green. I loved it for a long time but it has definitely outstayed it's welcome. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do in there and now *that* is paralyzing me. Right now it is a mishmosh of styles. There is no cohesiveness to the room and it feels all over the place.

I was talking to my husband last night about redecorating the bedroom (which is going to mean new furniture, bedding, rug, curtains, shades, accessories...everything) and I told him how I was feeling overwhelmed because I didn't know where to start. I want the bedroom to be perfect - to capture our lifestyle and our family and our tastes, to represent who we are, and to give us a peaceful place to relax and sleep. And maybe a little romance in there, too!

As he always does, he talked me down from my ledge. He pointed out our living room, which is exactly what we want it to be. Elegant and rich, but super comfortable and lived in. TV front and center since that's our daily life, but held in a huge, hand painted armoire that doubles as a piece of art, really. He pointed out the dining room, which again is just what we wanted. Not fancy, a little farmhouse-y, beautifully comfortable for every day use, gorgeous colors with the perfect artwork. And he pointed out our office, which, yes, once again is exactly our vision. Dark and moody, deep wine-colored walls, dark wooden bookcases filled to the brim with well loved books. Very Moroccan, layered fabrics and pillows on a comfortable pull-out couch, beautiful desk with gorgeous accessories from our travels. The downstairs bathroom is so "us" too - because I took a chance and did something really edgy in an old house. I painted the bottom of the walls a really dark charcoal grey and the top part a metallic silver, put a punky chandelier in there, and then used pink accents in the dramatically punk art. It's one of my favorite rooms. And finally, TJK's room. A perfect room for a tween-going-on-25. A soft sky blue, with hand painted clouds and a blooming cherry blossom tree, gorgeous bedding, shelves for all of her trinkets and collectibles.

Basically, all of the rooms we have redecorated since moving in represent us well. The rooms that need to be redone - the master bedroom and bathroom, the main upstairs bathroom, the kitchen - are the ones we have not touched since moving in. Like the bedroom - the furniture is from our apartment. There's a room-dividing screen, also from our apartment. And there is a big comfy chair in there, which is from an old living room set from the apartment. Nothing in the bedroom was chosen for this bedroom. This made me take a breath and realize that when I decorate rooms in my house, I do it well. The bedroom is just the next on the be followed closely by the bathrooms and kitchen and outside...

Monday, February 01, 2016

George Michael Was Right: A Quick Remembrance of a Vodka Tour

When we were in Russia, we were so excited to taste some true Russian vodka. Well ok, I was really the one who was super excited and hubby sort of just came along, but it was all very exciting to me. We saw the palaces and churches by day, and the boozy fun side of St. Petersburg at night.

Throughout the trip, I had seen this couple who were hitting the same sights we were. They had that 50's rockabilly aesthetic, which is one that I really like looking at but have no interest in trying to pull off. I know I have my own style which I adhere to pretty closely, but the idea of dressing in that same rockabilly style every day is not attractive to me. However, it does fascinate me. All the cherry-print skirts and red and white bandannas and peep-toe shoes are pretty cute (on other people). And the pin curls in their hair...yesss. Again, not my personal style but definitely a stand out. Because they were dressed like this all the time, they definitely caught my eye. I found myself thinking that I'd like to meet them and maybe hang out for a drink because they must be pretty cool.
She was not nearly this cute, but this is how she dressed. Cherries for days.
When we got to the meeting point for our vodka tour (you can't just go out on your own in Russia - you need a very expensive visa to do so, and since we were only there a couple of days it made more sense to do tours), I saw the rockabilly couple waiting as well. They must have seen us around too, because they gave us a little head-nod of acknowledgment. As we boarded the boat (yes, it was a boat down the Neva River with vodka all the time, and it was amazing!), they chose to sit next to us. Perhaps they thought we were cool, as well? Well, duh.

The shots started flowing and we sang and yelled and chanted and also shopped and did some sightseeing and took a million pictures. We got to see another side of St. Petersberg - a really cool downtown side where young people were hanging out and drinking coffee at cafes, walking hand in hand down the Neva, and honestly, just being people. There is nothing like traveling and seeing foreign places to bring down your prejudices about other cultures and countries. We hit up a great chocolate shop, saw some amazing sculptures, and yelled and waved to anyone on a bridge as our boat sailed under it. We even learned to read some Russian, which I absolutely loved even whilst tipsy on the vodka.

And this rockabilly couple, the ones whose fashion choices led me to believe they were so awesome that we could be lifelong friends, were beyond annoying. They were loud and obnoxious and not in the fun way. They were crass and uncouth, and as Jersey as I can be, I am never those things. I am always respectful and thoughtful and conscious of my surroundings, especially when I travel. These losers made off-color jokes and were obnoxious and really quite uncivilized. They were every reason other countries hate Americans. Maybe their 1950's clothes really did represent where their evolution had stopped in terms of understanding the world around them. I hated them.

I couldn't wait to be away from them, and in fact, when we got off the boat to go shopping in Nevsky Prospekt, we made the decision to sit in someone else's seats for the rest of the boat ride so as not to sit by these people any longer. It might have caused a bit of unrest with our fellow travelers to switch like that, but it was worth it. Drunk on vodka or not, there was no way I was going to spend another minute talking to those circus animals without ending up in a Russian prison for assault.

Despite our initial opinion of them, we came to realize that George Michael was right. Sometimes the clothes do not make the man. The morals of the story are: 1) Sometimes people who look cool are really just the most uncool, 2) Americans really do need to check themselves when we go overseas so we aren't perpetuating the stereotypes of Ugly Americans, and 3) Russian vodka is really delicious and I want to go back and spend more time drinking it.