Sunday, January 30, 2011

Love from the 'Hood

We got some lovin' from the neighborhood Friday: 

I think I've mentioned once, maybe twice, that I love lemon bars. My awesome friend Allison made them for me last year. My awesome friend and neighbor MiHae remembered.

I'm sure you, invisible readers, live in lovely places. However, not one of your neighborhoods can hold a candle to mine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Soooo. So. Yeah. 

Big day tomorrow. These were Tom's words earlier today. And me, being me, was all, "Yeah, we've got school, and I'm taking Sarah to a movie at the elementary school, then we've got dinner with friends at home." And he was all, "I meant Jane." And I was all, "I know."

One year tomorrow. Crappiest anniversary ever.

We're not doing anything special to mark it. It just... I don't want to have to commemorate my daughter's death. I'd considered making a donation of toys to the hospital or library or money to the March of Dimes, but I'd rather continue doing such things on her birthday, celebrating her life in my small way. But tomorrow? January 28th? Well, screw January 28th. The most wrenching thing I've ever had to do happened on January 28th and it can go to hell.

School. Movies. Dinner with our friends. Life moving forward. That's what I want tomorrow. Since what I most want I can't have back. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dirty Laundry

Technically not dirty and therefore not laundry, but I'm airing it here anyway.

In the ongoing war against crap, I tackled my sock drawer today. I don't know how I got to a point in my life that my sock drawer would need tackling, but here I am. It was a real effort to get the drawer fully closed (and I'm not even talking about when all the laundry is done. ahem). Wool socks, smartwool socks, cotton socks, footie socks, weird fuzzy socks, tights, stockings -- I despise stockings. I never wear them. And yet there were, I don't know, half a dozen? more? pairs in there. But mostly, lots and lots of wool socks. Well, Vermont. You know. Wool socks are as essential to life up here as maple syrup. More so. You can put peanut butter on your pancakes.

But why had I let so many years go by without getting rid of holey, heel-worn, threadbare itchy socks? Partly because socks are inherently useful, and I hate to throw out ANYTHING that might serve a purpose. And partly because I hate to throw out anything reparable. I can't darn. I hear you can needlefelt a patch onto a wool sock, but I've never tried it. But still, the socks stayed, awaiting resurrection.

But why? WHY? Maybe I'm the reincarnated spirit of a Depression-era housewife, habit-bound to wring every last drop from every ketchup bottle. Might be. I don't like tossing out rubberbands or string or twist ties. (I don't like to, but I usually do. Usually.) I tried canning this summer. I want to learn to quilt. So, yeah. Could be.

Or maybe it's just that I'm caught between that scrimping, thrifty mentality and the reality of the world in which I actually live. Material things flow ceaselessly around me, too easily gained and too easily replaced, and far, far too easily accumulating. A thrifty consumer isn't too many steps away from becoming one of those sad people on those hoarding shows. 

So it's time for another not-a-resolution: no more stuff comes in without something else going out (preferably by donation). I'm not going to delude myself and think I can keep up with it for all three of us all the time, as well as the household. But I can stick to it for me.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Totally Not Even A Post

So, I went and got myself an RSS feed. Apparently I didn't have one before? Because they don't just... manifest when you create a blog? Turns out you have to do it on purpose. Which means that any of you lovely people who has been cursing me out for not having an RSS feed to subscribe to can now, in fact, subscribe. Oh, and the comments situation has changed an eentsy bit -- you don't have to do the silly word verification thing now. My little blog's getting all growed up! Before you know it, I'll have an actual, like, banner and design elements and stuff.

That's all. Carry on.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Winter Virtue

Focus narrows in the winter, doesn't it? Small things take on greater importance. A hot cup of tea, a warm bath at the end of the day, are as great a source of pleasure as summer's picnic basket brimming with the bounty of the season. A fire in the fireplace is more than good enough. Save the s'mores for July.

I think it's because summer demands grand gestures. Color! Excitement! But winter pulls us back in to ourselves, back down to a simpler scale. Summer wants a Whole! Entire! Vegetable! Garden! Winter is happy with a potted rosemary plant on the windowsill. Summer wants landscaping projects and parties on the patio! Winter? All winter wants is a well-shoveled path.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More? There's More?

300th post! Woo-hoo! I feel like I should have baked a cake or something. Maybe there's some leftover Christmas candy somewhere. (on edit: Huh. The Blogger dashboard is telling me this is the 300th post, but the sidebar only adds up to 291. Weird. I feel less celebratory now. Well, at least I didn't bake a cake.)

Anyway, another day, another space conquered. (Partly.)

My awesome friends MiHae and Jen came over today to help me deal with parts of the kitchen that weren't working so well. We reorganized and decluttered some overstuffed cabinets and kicked some stairwell butt.


Yeah. It's an old house which once upon a time had been divided into two apartments, which were then reunited and reconfigured and generally messed with. One of the few areas that wasn't seamlessly reintegrated into the new footprint was a back staircase. The top half became a half-bath. The bottom half?

A dead zone. (This, by the way, is the "after" picture. "Before" was a frightening tower of abandoned and long-forgotten kitchen crap flotsam.)

I would like this to be more of a pantry some day. Something like this:

(From Martha Stewart of course.)

I have the advantage of being able to use the actual risers, if necessary/possible, but I haven't figured out how to make really efficient use of the space. Most of the really good ideas I've seen online take advantage of the space under a stairwell. But how best to take advantage of the actual stairs?

Right now, I'm considering putting in shelves (skinny on top, for canned goods, wider below for appliances and paper goods and similar) on the lefthand wall, and then picture rails (for platters and the like) or wall mounted baskets (for onions and potatoes and such) on the other side.

Any advice, my invisible readers? I am all ears. Seriously. Please.

P.S. For the curious, the majority of the dethroned stuff has been relegated to one of three places: trash/recycling, bags and boxes to donate (some of which has, in fact, been donated!), and the garage. Soon to be known as The Dreaded Garage. Once the weather warms up again (hopefully long after I've finished the Stuff Detox of the rest of the house), I'll do one last massive purge. I once had hopes of holding a garage sale to get a little something out of our unloved belongings, but I've been saying that for four years. It's never gonna happen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chipping Away

Another space conquered!

This is the closet under the stairs in all its "before" glory. That Diaper Genie floating in the middle? Hasn't been used in nearly three years. And yet there it is, front and center. Do they even make the inserts anymore?

Twenty minutes later:

Ta-da! Seriously, it only took twenty minutes to do, even with Sarah's, ahem, help. I've had that wire shelf for at least six months. What was I waiting for?

Bonus close-up of the shelf I installed ALL BY MYSELF SO THERE:

I screwed six hooks into the drywall under and beside the shelf for all the wrapping stuff that lives in the closet, and now the floor is clear, and there's more room for storage above.

Someday I want this closet to be like the phone/game closet in The Family Stone. (Do you know what I'm talking about? The little room where Claire Danes's character was on the phone with the bus line and the engagement ring finally dropped off her finger? What, you don't all have this movie committed to memory?) Five minutes of exhaustive searching on the intertubes only gets me this photo; you'll have to trust me that it's a sweet little room.

But for now, YAY ME.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

About Those Books

In exciting-to-me news, we finished a MAJOR project in our house yesterday. Remember those books I was talking about the other day? How I like 'em? Well, we had a major issue around that, since this house had no built-ins and not a lot of space for freestanding bookcases. So we decided to fix that. (That is, we decided to hire people to fix that. We are not renovators. We are not of the handy tribe.)

We used to have walls that looked like this:

Pretty dreadful, right? (The emptiness isn't helping, but I couldn't find a reasonable picture from before the project started. Photo-journalism FAIL.)

It wasn't better without the crappy bookcases:

And lo, the books were without home, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth (especially in the closet, where more books languished in the dark):

 But then the carpenters did appear, and there was great rejoicing in the land:

And it was good.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I de-Christmased the house today, all except getting the tree out. After I put Sarah to bed, I stayed upstairs for a while, continuing my not-a-resolution (master bedroom: DONE. YES).

When I came downstairs, all that was left of the tree was a drift of dried needles. And when I turned around, there stood Tom with the vacuum cleaner. I quite literally could not believe my eyes. After I regained my ability to speak and thanked and praised him for taking the tree out -- without being asked! and remembering to shake out the sheet underneath of its load of needles! outside! without being asked! and putting that sheet in the laundry room! without being asked! -- he said (and I swear to you this is an exact quote) he said, "I actually thought to myself, 'What would Tia do?'"

We've been together nine years, Tom and I. I don't believe I've ever been prouder.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


It's about time that damn year ended. I mean, Happy New Year everyone!

I'm not much of one for resolutions. I'm lazy. Fundamentally, basically, unshakably lazy. I am terrible at breaking old habits, and no better at establishing new/better ones.

BUT. I am determined to get some stuff done around here. This place is awash in useless, broken, outgrown, underused, redundant crap. We can't find the stuff we actually need because it's so entirely buried by the stuff we don't. So. SO. I intend to pick up where I left off (in September. Ahem).

Today: kitchen junk drawer and my and Tom's closet: DONE. HA. Take out menus and appliance manuals: clipped together. Batteries and allen wrenches and screws: in their proper places with the tool kit. Old clothes and tote bags: bundled and ready for donation. YES.

I don't have any expectation that I'll be able to strip down the entire house to some sort of minimalist fantasy. There are the books, for starters. Have I told you guys about the book situation here? I have an... appreciation for books. It's. Well. Anyway, the books stay. I weeded them when we moved into this house three years ago, and that's just going to have to do. As for the rest of it, I just want to tackle one area, one thing, at a time until I feel like I've reasserted control over the stuff of our lives. Just one dresser top here, one counter there, and maybe, maybe the mountain will turn out to be covering a molehill after all.

(If I did make resolutions, I'd want to be more active, eat better, bake more, be more deliberate in my decisions, and spend less time on the computer when I'm supposed to be spending time with Sarah. But, hey, why burden myself with crazy self-imposed expectations? Aim low, I say.)

(The cousins did come, by the way. Sarah enjoyed three glorious days with her beloved Molly and Tess, and I may even post pictures of the holidays before the year has lost its new car smell.)