Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Braced and Preparing

Here we go again! The Winter of Disbelief continues with another sucker punch to the Northeast region of the US. I know New England and New York are still getting pummeled and are due for a round two tomorrow, but here in Jersey a lot of the snow has melted due to 24+ hours of rain and the snow begins late tonight.

Some places around here still have quite a bit of deep snow cover (like Mom's house--how do they still have so much less than a mile away and so much of ours has melted?) and we're supposed to get another 8-10 inches when all is said and done on Friday. This time it's supposed to be a "snowicane," a hurricane-like snowstorm. I've never experienced this before and, I have to admit, I'm a little concerned.

We don't have enough wood. The Viking only split so much, never dreaming there would be this much snow to prevent him from getting back out there to split some more. We've used the new stove way more than we anticipated and, despite our efforts to ration the wood since the last storm, we just don't have enough to heat the house should the power go out again. Still, we survived 11 years in this house without a wood stove and I know we'll survive this time. There is a possibility (albeit a slim one) that Daria and I may be able to get out back and split some more wood ourselves, but only if she is confident in her axe-wielding skills. I am decidedly not.

We also have other preparations to make. Fool that I am, I put off my weekly run to the grocery store until today and will now have to do it while every hooligan in the entire state is rioting over the last of the bread, eggs and milk. And I need bread, eggs and milk! We have candles and matches from the last storm, but we're dreadfully low on tea and have nothing in the house to prepare for meals. I'd better go find my brass knuckles.

In other news, the deep-clean marches along slowly but purposefully. On Saturday The Viking and I cleaned and cleaned. I thoroughly swept the kitchen and dining room while he vacuumed like his life depended on it. We also got very irritated with the dog in the process. One of the reasons so much time was spent on the floors was because of the excesses of fur that have been clumping and floating around here lately. Nutmeg is in the throes of her Spring Shed (which tells me Spring is not far off, no matter how much snow we get tomorrow) and the sheer volume of the stuff beggars belief! I just kept finding more and more of it as I swept! And then, to complicate matters, Nutmeg herself kept being very skittish and causing all kinds of gnashing of teeth.

Like many dogs, Nutmeg is afraid of the vacuum. And, to a lesser degree, the broom. We only have carpeting in the living room so whenever we vacuum, she runs as far from it as she can get, through the dining room and into the kitchen, and cowers in front of the kitchen door. I think her fear of the broom is mostly because she knows when it comes out the vacuum is soon to follow, but when I sweep the kitchen, she keeps her distance by sitting tight in the living room. I think Saturday's simultaneous sweeping and vacuuming nearly done her in.

As I said, I was sweeping while The Viking was vacuuming. So when she ran into the kitchen to get away from the vacuum, she encountered that pesky broom. Then she would run out to be far from the broom and then come face to face with the vacuum. So she'd run back into the kitchen. And each time she ran through the kitchen, she'd inevitably hit the pile of sweepings I was working on and re-scatter all the fluff I had just swept up! I was getting so frustrated and impatient that The Viking finally called her to the far corner of the kitchen where I was no longer sweeping and commanded her to sit and stay. We could see in her eyes that she was considering defying him, but she slowly sat and stayed with a mutinous look on her face.

Daria tells me (as Cesar Milan says) that an anxious dog in an unpredictable (and therefore, dangerous) dog. And a perfect example is what happened next. She was staying in the far corner of the kitchen. I was still sweeping in the adjacent dining room where I had the chairs all upside down on top of the table in preparation for mopping the floor. The Viking was still vacuuming the living room. Then, The Viking shifted the vacuum a wee bit to clean the threshold between the living and dining rooms which caused the vacuum to enter the dining room just a smidge. But it was enough to spook the silly dog.

For some odd (and unpredictable) reason, she charged in the direction of the vacuum to dart under the dining room table, but in her panic, she misjudged the space and slammed into one of the heavy chairs perched on top of the table. The chair came down with a crash, missing her by mere inches, scaring the daylights out of all of us and putting a nice, deep gouge into the hardwood floor The Viking installed and finished all by himself.

No one was hurt, thankfully, though I shudder to think what would have happened if one of us had been standing there. And the damage to the floor is not important in the grand scheme of things (though I think it will be quite a challenge to repair). But the fact that she got so out of control really concerns us. In retrospect, it seems we had not taken very seriously her anxiety regarding the vacuum and we really need to work with her on it. If we don't, it's just a matter of time before she snaps again and that time, somebody could get hurt.

For what it's worth, Nutmeg spent the remainder of the cleaning time banished to the yard and I wound up scrubbing my kitchen floor Cinderella style though I did not sing, "Sing Sweet Nightingale," while doing it. I was too busy gritting my teeth and trying not to let bad words fly out of my mouth. Not the really bad ones, mind, but bad ones nonetheless. I think, perhaps, I need to spend some more time on my knees (both scrubbing and praying) to work on that particular problem.

So, the desk and kitchen entrance have been GI-ed and the floor has been (hand) scrubbed. Next up: mouldings and baseboards.

Right. I'm off to finalize the grocery list and prepare for the trip to Wegmans (or as Lobelia calls it, The Portal To Hell). Stay warm!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I have a clean desk but no broom

So, whatcha been doin? Been keeping busy? Digging out? Staying warm? Redheaded Snippet told me the other day that, with the sole exception of Hawaii, every state in the country has snow cover somewhere or other. I don't know if that's true, but it just might be. This is certainly the snowiest winter NJ has ever had. And I LOVE it!

I think, perhaps, I just might be a snowaholic. I am not making this up.

Anyway, I certainly have been keeping busy. Ish. The furniture sitting in limbo in my living room is starting to sap me of my will to live and really cramping my style, but otherwise I am trying to continue with the deep cleaning of my house.

I started in the kitchen because that is where I spend the most time. Not just cooking, don't think too admirably of me. The kitchen is where the computer is and I'm on it a lot, I confess.

One thing before I share my latest deep-cleaning accomplishment: deep cleaning is very frustrating and I'm beginning to remember why I avoid it. To a perfectionist, such as myself, getting something perfectly clean is a wondrous thing. It's what we ultimately want--perfection! But, alas, within a few short moments, unless you live alone (which I don't) or with freakishly neat and tidy family members (which I don't) or are simply never home (which I am not-not never home-sorry for the double negative) the perfection is spoiled. I just deep cleaned a corner of the kitchen last week and already it's looking, to my perfectionist eye, like it needs it again. And I cannot be doing that all the time! So, I just choose to let it go. And go. And go. We perfectionists would rather not do things at all than do them imperfectly. It's the curse of my life.

Any. Way. Here's my latest accomplishment, as promised:

Don't look at me like that, it's a BIG DEAL! You don't really know how bad it was because I would never have shown you.

This is as far as I would let you see (which I had already done here).  Just imagine that multiplied, like, nine times.  It was bad.  And it took me an entire day, like I knew it would.

I still have this pile of papers to file, but that's another full-day project.  I'm taking baby steps here!  And please be advised that there were two other piles of this size that went into the burn bin.


It took me the better part of a day to clear the desk, sort through all the mess and wipe everything down.  Even The Viking got in on the action and took apart the keyboard and thoroughly cleaned it out for me!  He said we probably could have made a lot of money if we had sold it to Science, but oh well.

Tada!  I think it looks great!  And I feel such a sense of accomplishment!  And can find things!  I even organized the drawers but my stupid camera pooped out on me just after I took the above shot.  So no drawer shots.  But I think you get the idea.

So, now, over half of my kitchen has been properly cleaned.  I still have a long way to go, but at least I've gotten started.  I was so inspired by my own progress that I devised a way to not lose track of where I am and where I'm going.  And, thus, there are little blue and green Post-its all over various surfaces in the kitchen that say things like, "Desk, Windows, Sills." or "Window, Baseboards" or  "Cupboards, Baseboards, Toaster oven."  Reminders to myself of the things that still need to be deep-cleaned.  It looks pretty crazy.  Daria, especially, thinks I'm rather barking.

In other news, my broom has suddenly gone missing.  We've looked in every room and cannot find it anywhere.  And no one seems to have any ideas.  I suspect the dog.  She always was afraid of the thing; maybe she's finally exacted her revenge by disposing of it in the dead of night.  I suppose this means the poor vacuum's days are numbered.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Weathering The Storm

Ah, line-dried clothes, how I've missed thee!

The above photo was taken at around 5:30 last night and features our clothesline.  Judging from its appearance you may be able to imagine what the power lines looked like.  Indeed, about an hour later, all our power went out with a bright, green flash.

Doesn't it look cozy?  It certainly was!

Fortunately, we were ready.  We had gathered candles, matches and flashlights.  We had moved some furniture (such as the foster love seat, above, which is still languishing in my house waiting for all the snow {3+ feet!} to melt before it can be moved to Mom's house) for optimum fireside game-playing access. We had even tidied up, nay, cleaned up as I had reasoned it would be hard enough to navigate through a dark, candlelit house without bumping into, stepping on or losing things in the clutter and mess.  I had literally put the last dish away and set down the dish towel when everything went black.

Once the power actually went, we sprang into action.  I went upstairs and shut all the bedroom doors.  We all put on warm socks and/or slippers and retrieved sweaters and sweatshirts to keep handy.  We placed candles and matches in strategic places like the kitchen and powder room.  Daria tacked a couple of sheets across the doorways out of the living room to help contain the heat.  And then Daria and I trudged out into the snow to bring the last of the wood pile (two laundry baskets full) in to dry out in front of the fire it would later help feed. 

I must admit, I had a few small worries about the cold.  We didn't have a lot of dry wood and there was no way of knowing how long the power would be out.  Also, we were trying to strike a balance between keeping as much heat as a possible in the living room and not letting the pipes in the outlying kitchen and bathrooms freeze. 

But, happily, we were just fine.  The pipes didn't freeze, the food didn't go bad (we kept the butter, milk, cream and other perishables on the cold kitchen porch), and we were all plenty warm enough.  We still had gas for the cookstove, so, by candlelight, Daria made a pot of tea while Redheaded Snippet made scones.  We enjoyed our feast by fire- and candlelight, listening to the winds howl around the house and then sent the kids up to bed in warm layers to bunk up together in Redheaded Snippet's room (the warmest upstairs).  Daria took the couch by the fire and I was warm as toast in my usual spot next to The Human Generator.

By 10:30 this morning, the power surged back on and we actually had mixed emotions.  Man-Cub was downright disappointed, if you can believe it.  The boy winds up with more than 3 feet of perfect fort-making snow and a grand total of 6 days off from school (when you factor in two snow days, one staff inservice, two days of the weekend and the Presidents' Day Holiday) and he's still finding things to complain about.  He wanted another night of candle- and firelight.

I had mixed feelings, too.  I was relieved about the fridge, freezer, furnace and hot water heater being back on, but had enjoyed seeing the kids having fun the old-fashioned way, without electronics.  Redheaded Snippet got out her origami kit.  Man-Cub played with Legos (not all the unusual for him), Nutmeg or Daria.  Daria, Redheaded Snippet and I had a mini hymn sing in the kitchen while the scones were being mixed up and then a discussion about Bible translations and a crash course in Russian history while waiting for them to bake and cool.  We all spent considerable amounts of time and energy keeping Man-Cub from pinging into one of the open flames.  Those things tend not to happen when the distractions of the television and computer are present.  Which leads me to think we desperately need to choose at least one day of the week and declare it as tv and computer free.  I think it will be good for us.

I have to confess, however, that I did have both the dryer and dishwasher running within 15 minutes of the power coming back on.  I know I could absolutely manage without them, but I do thank God for modern conveniences!

Hope everyone in the blizzard's path is managing (and digging out) well!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blizzard #3

Just a quick post and some photos before we hunker down for the night. Night #2 of our second blizzard in 5 days.

That's the evergreen with its snow-laden boughs in our next-door neighbor's yard.  This is one of the loveliest snowfalls I can remember seeing.  It's a heavy, wet snow that covers every twig on every branch of every tree and shrub.

The view from every window is breathtaking.  Schools were closed today and we just got the call that we're off again tomorrow.  Makes sense as it started snowing last night around 7:00 and isn't supposed to stop until just before midnight tomorrow morning.  Everything is closed, states of emergency have been declared and we've hardly even seen any plows out on the roads.

Can't say that's stopped The Viking, though.  He got a call from my cousin who had had to go to work (she works in a hospital) and couldn't get home.  He roared over there with the truck and carted her safely home.  Then he was off to the fire station to answer a call.

Half of the town is without power because of the snow and ice taking down the power lines, but we still have it over here.  We're hoping it lasts, though we're prepared with flashlights, batteries, candles, matches, firewood, wool socks, wool blankets and games!

Still, it could be one long, cold night.  Hope everyone else is able to ride the storm out in warmth and light!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Blizzard of 2010

Anyone else having deja vu?  Anyone else think we need to invest in a good floor mat sometime soon?

That Euonymus looks so green and lovely against the snow

You may have heard about our Mid-Atlantic blizzard, the one they're already calling the Blizzard of 2010.  Records were broken, history was made, snow-lovers up and down the middle part of the Eastern Seaboard were delighted. It's AMAZING!

Our 6-foot Dwarf Cypress humbles itself before the wintry splendor

Now, it's true, I may not think it so splendiferous if I was one of the many without power or with a collapsed roof or foolishly short of milk and toilet paper, but we are just snug and bugs in rugs over here and I can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside whenever I look outside.

This baby's been chugging along for almost 48 hours, keeping us all toasty warm!

On Friday night, Daria came over, Redheaded Snippet invited some friends and we moved furniture and spent the first leg of the storm playing games and laughing ourselves silly in front of the fire.  We had snacks and pencil/paper games and Dutch Blitz and Boxers or Briefs.  Vonderful gut fun was had by all and we got to use the truck with its 4-wheel drive to take people home.

Wood pile as of this morning, 1/3 as large as it started

Yesterday, we slept in luxuriously late, dressed up in warm, comfy clothes, had a Viking-special fry-up breakfast, tidied up a bit, threw more logs on the fire, and prepared for digging out.  Daria joined us again and the shoveling, sweeping and scraping began.  Then there was general stomping, shaking and shedding, then more logs on the fire and then thawing, drying and sighing.  I braised a roast, we played video games, threw more logs on the fire, ate brownies and played more video games.

We've taken to using this table as our snowfall gauge

This morning, church was open only to "those who are near and can make it."  As we are 30 minutes away, we figured we are excused, even though we have the truck.  So, we slept in again and have spent what was left of the morning lolling about the house and listening to Man-Cub sing at the top of his lungs with The Viking's headphones in his ears.

View from living room window

Tonight, we are invited to a Superbowl party at our Youth Pastor's house.  The Viking doesn't follow football (unless the Giants are playing) and I didn't even know who was playing until I asked The Viking just now, but we'll probably go anyway.  The Viking and YP are quickly becoming fast friends so I think it will be fun for them to spend more time together, thinking up ways to get in just enough trouble for it to be fun but no so much that they actually get in trouble.

You can just make out Man-Cub's sledding trail

This has been a nearly perfect weekend.  At first I was bummed that this lovely storm didn't bag us an extra day off from school, but it really was better that it happened on the weekend when The Viking is home.  It's just so much nicer when we're all here together.  Hmmm...I just heard what I said...isn't that a wonderful blessing?

The winds blew the snow in drifts all over our porches

Of course, there's always the chance the clean-up will prove to be too daunting and we may get a snow day anyway tomorrow...not likely, but still a chance.  It will all depend on whether the buses can get around.  I, for one, would love an extra day to wake without an alarm clock, though I'm sure Redheaded Snippet will be going a little stir crazy by 3:00 this afternoon.

View of the street from the kitchen porch

The weatherpersons, not quite satisfied with all the attention they've been getting because of this weather event, are already making noises about another storm on Tuesday night.  They're all furrowing their brows, clucking their tongues and making cryptic comments, designed to keep up us hanging on their every broadcast.  "Could another system bring even more snow our way before the work week is in full swing?"  "Is there more snow on the horizon?"  "Will we be digging out yet again in just a few days?"  Tune in at 6:00 to find out!

The back yard, still relatively pristine

You may groan and moan, but I say BRING IT ON!  Finally, we're getting winters to be proud of, not the gray, wet, moderately cold ones we usually have around here!  A winter without snow is just depressing and boring.

Not sure if that path was made by shovel or dog

Whether we get a snow day tomorrow or more snow on Tuesday or not, there is still laundry to be washed, dried and folded, bedrooms to be cleaned, dishes to be washed and meals to be prepared.  And my deep-clean of the house must resume.  I've got devious plans to ruin the children's entire weekend by giving them orders to clean their rooms.

All good things must come to an end, even perfect weekends...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Hard Day's Work

So, as soon as I finished my last post, I found some dance music online, cranked the volume up and got right down to business. I decided to use a method I had learned years ago and start right at the front door (or, in our house, the main entrance which is the kitchen door and not the main door, but let's not quibble over details).

First things first, the coat cupboard needed to be cleaned out.  I pulled all sorts of inappropriate things out of there: socks, flannel shirts, several handbags and a few stray shoes, to name a few.  They all went into piles according to their owner on the dining room table for the owners to put away upon their arrival this afternoon/evening.

A side note, it was interesting to see the things that comprised each pile.  Let's see if you can guess which pile is whose?


Pretty easy, right?
Hmmm...a little trickier, but still pretty obvious.


I suppose you might have to know this person to know whose stuff it is...

But process of elimination really makes it all clear, doesn't it?  The first was Man-Cub's, then Redheaded Snippet, then The Viking's, then mine.  What a boring, little pile I had, huh?

Anyway, once I got the cupboard cleaned out, I just kept going and cleaned the outside of it.  Then the outside door, then the bead board, switch plates, baseboards, dishwasher front and island, including the back and sides.

I finished the dishes, cleaned out the sink, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, wiped down the windowsills and swept the floor.


Poor Mrs. C was all kinds of dirty.  It wasn't her fault she was so hard to clean today!  It took lots of elbow grease, but I got her in tip top shape and even gave the kettle and popcorn popper (a permanent fixture on the stove top) a thorough going over.

That's all I'm going to accomplish today, as now it's time for dinner and I have other things (like laundry and regular daily tidying) to do.  And that's only about half the kitchen!  I'd like to continue tomorrow and tackle the fridge, desk and pantry, but we've got a major snow storm coming and I'm going to have to make it to the store for my regular grocery run before everyone goes crazy and buys all the toilet paper, milk, bread and eggs.  So the rest of the kitchen will have to wait until Saturday.  Not necessarily a bad thing to do during a snow storm, eh?

Now, I get to go make a mess in my newly cleaned kitchen!  Dinner time!

Reclaiming The House

After a weekend away (it was cold, y'all!) followed by a day of recuperating plus two days of feeling rather ill, my house has gotten way out of hand! I'm sure you can imagine. Unless you're one of those naturally neat and tidy persons I will never understand even though I am actually grown up enough now to have one as a friend. You Cleanies will have to imagine something that would make you wake up in a cold sweat, clutching your tidy, perfectly pressed bedsheets in your smooth, clean, neatly manicured fingers.

I know what needs to be done. And I know it needs to be done now. I know I am the only one who can do it (even if I am enlisting the help of children and husband, which I am, I am the one who has to keep the machine running). I know I will feel worlds better once I do it.

Want to see the straw that broke the camel's back? I had successfully unearthed batteries, loaded them into the camera and took several photos to include in this post (to follow) and was ready to load them into the computer but couldn't find my flash drive. After several minutes of trying in vain to locate it on the computer desk, I actually looked at the computer desk.

I didn't find the flash drive. What I found, instead, was a homemade version of a Hidden Object game.

Want to know the really sad thing?  Now that I think of it, this desk has been like this for days and I know for a fact some of these things have been for weeks (or longer).  This is typical of me and my messiness.  I don't see the mess until I trip over it, lose something in it or someone I don't know very well is at the door.  It's like the reverse of OCD.

Anyway, I am tackling the house today.  I don't know about the desk because I know if I start that I will maybe get half of it done by dinnertime.  The desk is a weekend task, I fear.

So, knowing my house has run amok, and knowing I am getting on it, please be kind to me and don't think too poorly of anything I may have missed when scraping all the untidiness out of camera range in the shots below.  And also, you may notice some violently striped furniture (specifically, a couch and loveseat) in the corners of some of the shots.  Those are not mine.  I am housing them for my mother until she can get their new home ready.  So, I'm kind of like their foster mother.

The living room, seen above in its former (pre-wood stove) state, is about to undergo some changes.  Once the stove was in, we found ourselves bitten by the Home Improvement bug once again.

Suddenly, the new stove needed to be surrounded by new paint on the walls.  And how could we fully enjoy the beauty of the new paint (yellow) unless we tore up the carpeting and refinished the hardwood flooring underneath?  Of course, it would be silly to have beautiful new hearth, walls and floor without doing something about the shabby furniture that would surely detract attention from all our hard work so new furniture would be needed. 

Suddenly, what was once more than suitable, became unbearable.  We got carried away building our castles in the sky but, thankfully, came to our senses before we had spent a penny.

The Viking and I sat down and had what we call a housekeeping meeting.  You know, touching base, assessing and evaluating, setting goals, clearing the air, bringing each other up-to-date.  And, among other things, we determined that all this refurbishment talk is just plain silly at best.  There are better ways to spend our time and money.  We have everything we need and so many things we have always wanted.  Why on earth do the great blessings we've been given only lead us to reach out grasping for more things?  We are so, so foolish.

Therefore, it has been decided that all talks regarding tentative plans for the living room are hereby suspended.  The room is fine the way it is.  We even wrote that down on paper and both initialed and dated it.  It's hanging on our fridge.  Verbally, I agreed to stop talking about paint and ottomans and The Viking agreed to stop talking about drum sanders, stain and polyurethane.

Now, shortly before our summit meeting, Mom asked if we want her current living room couch and love seat and we had said yes.  Which leads me to the reason there is an extra (violently striped) couch and love seat sitting in my living room at the moment and crowding all my photos (still to follow).  Mom had given an old set to a friend and bought a new set.  She never really liked the new set as much as the old and secretly regretted making the change.  Last weekend, the friend got new furniture herself and asked if Mom would like her old set back.  Mom jumped at the chance and, knowing we don't like our furniture and needing a place to unload hers, asked if we want it.  Problem is, she's in Chicago visiting Dharma and Co. so we have to store her new/old furniture until she can get back and get her old/new furniture out.  Still with me?

Also, check out the sweet, little chair I found at a thrift store the morning of our meeting!  I went with Daria to pick up a fireplace set she had seen at a local thrift store and spotted this wee chair hiding literally in a corner.  I think it's a lady's chair; its proportions are perfect for me and Daria (and also for Redheaded Snippet who tried it later and pronounced it ideal) and I am almost never comfortable in chairs.
It needs a good cleaning (maybe even a reupholstering), but I love its lines and color and guess how much I paid for it?  I know, it's not supposed to be classy to brag about how much (or little) you paid for something but I don't care!  We live in trying times, people, it's time to sing it from the mountaintops when you get a good deal on something!

It was $15 and 50% off.  That's right, $7.50!  You could spend more than that on a salad at Applebee's.  You probably wouldn't want to, but you could.

And my fireplace tools (sorely needed as we were using a slender log as a poker and the kitchen dustpan and an old magazine to clean out the ashes)?

Another 50% off of $15 deal: another $7.50!

So, in the most Using What You Have project I have ever undertaken, I am faced with the task of re-arranging my living room to make use of Mom's cast-off furniture.

Here are our players:

Our current sofa.  I'm not crazy about it, it's just there to serve as seating.  It was a previous thrift store purchase.

Mom's sofa, coming soon to our house with its matching love seat.  Ignore the girl caught in a rare lounging moment.  In case you can't tell, it's green with gold and burgundy accents.  The sofa, not the girl.

TV cabinet.  We bought it for about $100 from an aunt about two years ago.  The blue is actually quite a bit prettier than it looks in this photo.  But I realize I may have to paint it.

Old tea cart that was in my home growing up as far back as I can remember.  It is currently being used as our coffee table, housing photo albums, extra music books and magazines.  It used to have wheels (I think I have them somewhere) and my sisters and I used to wheel it around our living room playing tea party.

I love it and always want to use it.  I love it's roughened table top, its deadly hinges that will slice your hand in half if you're not careful and the drawer we always forget to look in and are always surprised at what we find when we do.  Also, there in the top, left corner is your first glimpse of the striped foster furniture.

A vintage radio I bought for The Viking's birthday at a yard sale for $25 about 13 years ago.  It's gotten beat up and isn't functional at all but we love this stupid thing.  I'm terribly afraid we're not going to have room for it.

Another childhood piece, the piano we all took lessons on.  This is, technically, Dharma's piano.  But as she has no room for it at the moment and we do, we are housing it (and using it) for her.  More foster furniture.  Someday, when Dharma claims this one, we'll get a new one.  Actually, I'm hoping for an old one.  And old, tall one like the one I first learned to play on.

I made it almost to bedtime without Mom realizing I hadn't practiced that day.  But, as always, she caught me.  I'm no older than 10 here so it's got to be around 1982.

I don't know where this secretary came from.  It was in my room when I was little; it stood next to my bed and I remember doing my homework at it and storing all my treasures in its secret compartments.  This isn't the most flattering photo of it.  And there, once again, is the so-called Estrogen Sofa.  Mom had this in her living room with a bright purple carpet she called her Estrogen Rug.  It was right around the time she started taking estrogen supplements and she went all crazy and suddenly mad for purple.

This was a gift from my mother on my birthday just three weeks before Redheaded Snippet was born.  I've rocked all of our children who came home with us in this rocking chair and I hope to give it to Redheaded Snippet or Man-Cub someday.

This dreadful piece is purely functional.  I hate looking at it, as does The Viking.  Maybe I'll change when I start taking estrogen, but until then, I am not a pink furniture kind of girl.  We bought this (again, at a thrift store), because The Viking wanted a recliner and this didn't look like a recliner.  We had great plans to get a slipcover for it.  Obviously, we never did.  And then Nutmeg decided it would make a great place to sleep in the winter, unfortunately bringing her razor-sharp talons with her and slicing the cover to ribbons.  Did we then get a slipcover?  No, we did not.  We just threw this quilt (which my cousin was kind enough to make for me while I was in the hospital on bedrest while pg with Man-Cub) over it to hide the worst of it.  The only reason we have not literally chucked this to the curb is because some nights it's the only place The Viking can sleep comfortably because of his back.

And, lastly, because I cannot abide ending with such a dreadful photo, I leave you with my Christmas gift from Daria.  She was my Secret Santa this year and found me this bright copper kettle for the wood stove.  It's hard to see, but it has its own snuffer that hangs in the back.  Every time I look at it I start singing, "Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens..."

So there you have all the elements I have to try to work with to make my living room look as much like this as possible:

HAHAHAHAHAHA!  I know, I'm delusional!  Or am I?  Okay, look, I realize I do not live in a charming stone cottage in a quaint English village.  I realize my living room will not look like this photo.  But this is the overall look and feel I am aiming for.  The warm, homey, nothing matches but everything works kind of thing.  And I can't spend any money.  This could be my biggest challenge yet.

I'll keep you posted.

And now, off to clean and scrub.