Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Furniture Dominos

One great feature of fixing up any room is that there are ripple effects that improve other parts of the house - like a rising tide that lifts the whole house-- an endless chain reaction of style.  A new thing replaces an old thing, the old thing replaces something else, and ideally the whole house gets a little better.

[Sidenote- I originally had the impression that when you buy a house, every room is suddenly perfectly furnished, exactly as you want. I realize now that that's not remotely how it works (at least not for us) and instead furnishing a house will be a long, slow process of buying one thing and reshuffling everything else to make it all work a little better].

We just got a bunch of great new dining room furniture (yay!!), which meant that we had an extra table, chairs and a bookcase that needed new homes. The old furniture was all in fine shape, it just didn't work in the dining room. Everything went somewhere, making several improvements around the house.

The bookcase moved into the living room, where it replaced an extra dining chair that was trying to be a side table.

Much more functional! The bookcase fits the corner perfectly.
[Sidenote -the fabric thing in the background is this awesome scarf we got in Thailand that's much prettier in real life.]

The table and a chair moved upstairs to replace a small table that was serving as a desk.

That smaller table came downstairs to serve as much-needed extra counter space in the kitchen.

The remaining four chairs each got new homes:

in the entryway as a mail sorter and place to take off your shoes (not permanent, but it works):

in the living room as extra seating:

 in the fireplace room as extra seating:


and in the dining room as a liquor cabinet (clearly temporary, but still mildly functional):

In total, my parents' extraordinarily generous gifts for one room ended up improving five rooms. Quite a few things got checked off the to-do list, making the house work a little better. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Unanticipated House Guest

It was freezing last night as I walked home from work. I was wearing my winter coat and annoyed I didn't have a hat and gloves, when I heard the most adorable little squeal. I followed the noise to a pile of trash near our house and found a tiny little guy, shivering and screaming his little head off. He didn't have any siblings or a mom cat nearby, and clearly didn't have an human owners. I couldn't stand to leave him there, so I took him home to warm up.

He's adorable and super friendly. He wants to be held all the time. He wants to play, but is still wobbly and falls over when he runs.

Our best guess is that he's around 3 or 4 weeks old, which is really young to be away from his mom. At his age, he needs to eat pretty often, and needs a lot of attention.

He needs someone to take him in, and unfortunately it can't be us. We are only keeping him temporarily, but can't add another permanent cat. Our real cat hates him and is not being shy about telling us.

There are a few animal facilities in the DC area, but from what I understand, they have too many kittens and are likely to euthanize him if we drop him off.

If anyone is interested in helping out a friendly little kitten, please let me know.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dining Room Furniture

Like the rest of the house, the dining room has been looking a little awkward since we moved in. This is what it looked like on moving day. Big sparkly chandelier, bright white walls, very little furniture.

The starting point.

Of all rooms in the house, I was most eager to fix up the dining room. Eating food is a major priority for both of us, and we wanted somewhere nice to do it. I think the days of eating on the living room couch are (or should be) numbered. We were hoping for something like this mood board below- traditional and formal, but cozy and comfortable. Ideally somewhere we could host a lot of great dinner parties.

  1. Dark Gray, Cozy Wall Color
  2. Our existing Copper Art

The first step was to paint the walls a nice, cozy grey color which I did in our first month in the house. It helped with the coziness, but somehow brought extra attention to the absurdity of the table (which is smaller than the chandelier).

 ittybitty table under megachandelier

This table has been with me since my first apartment - purchased specifically because it could fit in my car. It worked pretty well at our old condo, but in the new house, it looks absurd. For a few dinner parties, we brought down another spare table, which sort of worked but also looked ridiculous.

Double table trying to look cool.

So, when Dad offered to get us a new one for our wedding gift- we were both really excited. Having a real table that could actually fit more than 2 people was huge. We also really wanted a table that would stay with us for years, and not just be some crappy material that would quickly fall apart. We hunted around for a while and found E Custom Finishes, a company in Massachusetts that makes tables by hand from reclaimed wood.

We needed chairs to go with the table, and wanted something comfortable to sit in for a while. We picked these from Pottery Barn, and picked the parchment color so they would be a bit darker and stand up to some inevitable stainage.

Meanwhile, Mom offered to get us another good piece of furniture as her wedding gift, so we opted for a buffet to hold all of our new china. We found this one at Ethan Allen to replace the small bookcase we're currently using.

Bookcase overflowing with cookbooks, china, table linens and "misc".

After waiting patiently for the past few months - everything has finally arrived! The buffet arrived first, and was super easy.

New Buffet holds china and table linens easily

I'm just excited to have something to decorate. 

The chairs arrived next. One was damaged, but PB had great customer service, so it was easy to get a new one sent out and have the damaged one picked up. [Sidenote, even though we ordered fabric samples, the chairs seem lighter than we expected. We really weren't hoping for white furniture that now needs to be super protected and kept far from food.]

The table was a total headache. The company that built it was fine, but they subcontracted out to another company for delivery, and they turned out to be a disaster. Even with "white glove" service, they wouldn't call to schedule a delivery. It took me calling every day to leave messages that were never returned, complaining to the original table maker, and threatening them before we finally got our table.

Now everything is finally here, and it looks great. The room is super duper more functional, and we've started actually eating in here.  

with extensions-- should fit 10

without extensions- easy 6.

from the side- check out those sweet trestle legs. 

 Bring it on, Thanksgiving!

We're not done with this room yet, but it's come a long way. 

Dining Room To Do List:
Paint Walls
Get new Table and Chairs
Get a Buffet
Hang Curtains
New Rug
Replace Chandelier
Install Recessed Lights
Turn window into a door to the porch
Open wall into kitchen

Friday, November 1, 2013

2013 Marine Corps Marathon

The marathon this year was really different than last year, and yet, almost exactly the same. Last year was my first, and so I was filled with doubt that I could even finish, worried that I wouldn't be fast enough to beat the max time limits, and afraid that some terrible thing would happen that would injure me for life. This year I was much more confident- I knew I could finish. I knew I had trained as well if not better than the previous year, so I thought I would be faster. I knew the course and where the tough spots would be, so I planned and prepared to have my support team located strategically to help me get through.

Though I originally set out with a goal of running in 4 hours, I quickly revised to 4:30. Just before the race, I hoped that 5 would be possible, which would still be faster than last year's time. Oh, sweet optimism.

Just before the start- feeling great.

The morning of the race day started out well. We arrived in time to drop off our bags and swing by the portopotties before joining the massive line of runners. This race, like most big ones, has different corrals to group people by estimated finish time. We didn't have enough time to join our respective corrals, so we both waited together at the end with the other people who either expected to finish post 6 hours or also showed up a little late. The good news was that we got to start together and didn't have to stand around freezing for long, the bad news was that we weren't in a group of other people at each of our own paces.

My first ten miles were great. I averaged a 12 min mile pace (as needed to finish in 5 hours) and felt really strong. I wrote my name on my shirt, which made all the spectators cheer for me. It was amazing- I felt like such a celebrity. I passed my sister in law around mile 5 or 6, which was a huge boost - and powered ahead. Everything was going great.

Around mile 11, my brother joined me  and things started turning downhill. I wanted him to run that section because I knew it was where I started struggling last year, and right on cue my knee started to hurt again. We did a little walking, but mostly kept running until mile 15.

At mile 15, I found my mother in law, brother in law and nephews all cheering with signs. I picked up some aspirin from the fabulous Kim, dropped off my brother and picked up my mom. My knee was hurting a lot, but the drugs kicked in quickly, so I sped right back up. By 17, my friend Molly joined us, and the three of us were just running along steadily. The sun came out, making it a bit warm but really beautiful. The pace really picked up and I felt great. I was shocked to discover that I only barely beat the time cut off at mile 20, because I felt like I was just flying along.

Somewhere between mile 20 and 21, I totally hit the wall. My aspirin had completely worn off. My knee was excruciatingly painful and felt like it was about to fall off. I pictured the parts of my leg being held together with scotch tape. I couldn't handle the pain. From time to time I would try to run again, fighting the tears, only to give up again quickly. It was also much hotter than expected, which started draining my energy.

My mom and my friend tried their hardest to keep me moving, but I just couldn't do it. I walked as fast as I could, trying to run every now and then, but mostly hobbling for the remaining 5 miles. I was constantly watching my watch, recalculating my expected finish time. For the last mile, I realized I wasn't going to beat my old time and gave it everything I had. I pushed through the miserable pain and charged up the last hill- grimacing and crying as I crossed the finish. I ended up finishing almost the exact time as last year. [Sidenote- whoever thought it would be a good idea to put a steep hill at the end of a marathon course needs to be replaced, and/or forced to run it].

Because I love me some charts - here is the comparison in my speeds between the two years.
Both years I started at a 12 minute mile, and slowly crept up to a 15 minute mile. Both lines show a similar trend- I start out strong, get slower as I approach mile 10, and then get slightly faster to cross the half marathon line. Both years I slowed down a lot around mile 15 (when my knee really started hurting), and sped back up between 15 and 20 with the help of some aspirin and my friend Molly joining me for the more picturesque part. Once I crossed the bridge at mile 20 in both years, I started slowing back down, hitting the wall, until right before the end when I gave my last kick. Generally this year was slightly slower than last year, with two exceptions. My brother gets credit for the improvement you can see between miles 10 and 15. My mom was with me for the dramatic improvement in the last mile.
After the race, wanting to sit down.

After the race, I met back up with R, who finished at an exceptional time, and all of our family that had come out to support us. We headed back to a local bar and celebrated with beers and burgers and traded stories until I inevitably fell asleep. I did not get a chance to eat my celebratory brownie sundae that I was running for.

Now, five days later, things are slowly getting back to normal. My knee still hurts a bit, but gets better every day. Even though I haven't moved, I'm still starving and eating way too much. I'm also just disappointed and filled with regrets.

Instead of vowing to try again next year, I have decided to take a break from running. Maybe I'll try another marathon in a few years, but I think for now, I'm done. I tried. I did it, twice, which is still pretty awesome. Now it's time to focus on getting my knee healthy and strong to make sure I don't have any permanent damage and can run again sometime in the future.

My new goal for the next two months is to try as many different types of exercise as I can to break the rut of running, strengthen my legs and maybe find something fun and new. I'm going to take a full break from running for a while, to let my knee rest and because I just don't want to run right now. The spring is full of shorter races (10 milers and half marathons) that I may think about, but for now, I'm done.