Nightmare on Elm St.

The journey of turning the nightmare we bought on Elm St. into our dream home...

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Choosing Cabinets, Making Plans

I am happy to report that I turned in my exam last Thursday as planned and am now done with school until August! Yay! Now, I'm checking the grade system obsessively to see if my grades have posted yet. Eeek!

This weekend has been all about relaxation, planning, and decisions. And a little yardwork. Not much blog-worthy, but I thought that I'd post a little about my struggle with choosing the basement cabinets. I am sure that many people can sympthasize with our storage dilemmas. There are only 2 useable closets in the entire house, both of them barely so, and both are stuffed to the brim with clothes. We have a good amount of storage space in the kitchen, and it is stuffed full. It's difficult to fit in extra closets because the house is only 14' wide, and we need almost every possible inch of living space. We want to incorporate as much storage as possible in the basement because we've lost a lot of the room where we just "dumped" stuff due to the reconfigurations. Our original plan called for cabinets against the other side of the bathroom wall, but that plan changed when we had to move the bathroom door over a little bit. Now, the plan is cabinets against the closet wall. I will have 5' of wall and floor cabinets there, wall cabinets above the washer and dryer, a sink cabinet for the laundry sink, and big office-style wall cabinets in the living room to hold books. I also hope to squeeze in a small cabinet to hold towels in the bathroom. I'm planning to use horizontal file drawers below those wall cabinets, which will hold not only files, but dog toys, pillows, blankets, DVDs, etc. As you can see, it's a LOT of cabinetry. I've been struggling with the choice of which brand, door style, and finish to go with. After going around to different stores and slamming cabinet doors, yanking on drawers, etc. we've decided to go again with Kraftmaid. We've got a lot of Kraftmaid cabinets in the house, and they're affordable and well constructed. Originally, I picked out a gorgeous style in cherry:

But, according to the pricing chart on the back of the doors at the store, it's in one of the highest price categories possible. The project is already over schedule and over budget. So, Aaron has made me choose a backup in case our first choice is outrageous. Here is what I've picked (probably in a chestnut color):

I'm a little concerned because it's listed as a veneer door style, but hopefully these won't get the abuse of the ones in the kitchen (additionally, it will be birch). I'll be sure to check them out carefully at the store before we make our final decision. Anyone have experience with either design? We'd love to hear from you below!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Examination Procrastination and another TREEmendous Night

I’ve started several posts over the last few weeks, but I feel too guilty about having actual physical evidence of my procrastination to publish anything. As you can see, in the latter stages of my procrastination cycle, I don’t really care anymore. On May 1, my professor assigned 13 questions for our take home final, due May 15. That’s less than 1 question per day. Piece of cake, *right*? Enter the procrastinator! Since I figured that I had so much time to work on the final, and we hadn’t even covered most of the material on the final yet, I’d just work on my final project and wait until I got that done to start the test. Then, he extended the due date until this Thursday. Woo! More time! So, instead of working on the test last Saturday, as I had planned, I worked in the yard. I rationalized that it was going to rain, and that I needed to get it taken care of before the rain started. (That’s another post for another day.) Sunday, however, I really did start working on the test, with only a couple of short gardening breaks. Anyway, that brings me to today, with 4 questions still left to do, and wondering about a few things. It seems like a lot of you other housebloggers out there are in school, too. And it seems like a disproportionate number of you have spent insane amounts of time there. Aaron and I have about 9 years of graduate education right now, and I’m still going strong. Is there something to this? Is there something about many hours buried in old libraries and old buildings at our universities and instilled the love of old buildings, and of preservation? Is it the perseverance to see something incredibly difficult through to an ultimate reward? Does it just mean that we’re crazy enough (possibly as a result of all of those years locked up in the library or the lab) to tackle major life disruptions? I’ve concluded that Aaron and I just need too many things to do at once in order to feel fulfilled. What is it for you? I’d love to hear about it- you’ll be helping me procrastinate!

In other news, I didn’t get much sleep last night, because Elm St. has decided to wage war on invasive species, and one of the other Bradford Pear trees at the end of the street fell last night. It took out some cables with it and somehow demanded the response of not just the city, but 4 police units, INCLUDING a K9 unit! AND, they decided that it would be an excellent idea to get out the chainsaw around 1 am to cut the thing into firewood! So all night long, I heard the beep beep beep of the city truck picking up the branches and the vroom vroom of the chainsaw slicing it into teensy tiny little bits. At least that’s one less invasive species on the block (assuming that they cut the other half of the tree down soon.)

Aaron and I are gearing up for some big movement on the basement, probably involving vacation time. We’ve both been distracted by other projects, but please expect a return to houseblogging soon!

Friday, May 05, 2006


It's the end of the semester, and work is really hectic, so I'm sorry not to have posted much lately.

I have been spending a lot of my time in the car, commuting between home, work, and school. The fabulous DC highway system allows me a lot of time to look at the "scenery" on the roadside, and the beautiful weather that we've been having has allowed me to spend much of my commuting time with the windows and sunroof open. I've noticed a lot of these trees, which have an very sweet fragrance, almost like grapes (reminds me of the kudzu flowers from my hometown down South). So, I decided to look them up and find out what they are.

My search lead me to the National Park Service Alien Plant Site. I found this site to be really interesting and informative. A lot of plants that I've seen growing around my house, like this garlic mustard, I wasn't familiar with (have I mentioned that I'm not from around here?), and had no idea were introduced by humans and considered invasive (it certainly does seem to be everywhere) and also lethal to butterflies! No wonder we had no butterflies in our backyard, the lot behind us is covered with this stuff. I was also shocked to learn that the pretty Empress tree that I'd admired on my commutes was considered invasive, and produces something like 2 MILLION seeds every year!

It came as no surprise that my old friend, the kudzu, was considered invasive. However, one of the biggest surprises on this list was the urban ubiquity, the Bradford pear. Our street is lined with them (anyone remember our experience with one from late last year?), and recently I've noticed entire fields full of them along I-270 near work- I kind of wondered if they were able to self-propgate, but I had no idea that they were invasive. This list references invasive plants of the mid-Atlantic region. I was shocked at some of the plants listed here- many are things that I've considered planting, or that I see commonly planted in my neighborhood- do you have them in your yard?

Butterfly bush
Wisteria vine
Mulitflora rose
Norway maple (those are gorgeous, and I've never seen any that weren't obviously planted, but NPS knows better than me...)

So, first thing in the morning, I'm pulling as much of the garlic mustard as I can in the backyard in hopes that we get more butterflies this year. And please check the websites listed above before you head to the garden center this summer- there is no need to contribute to the demise of native species. Consider it outdoor preservation!