Sunday, March 29, 2015

Not Very Dead

As in "This blog may look dead.  And it is.  But not VERY dead. So that's all right, then."

Somehow, the jaunty "See you tomorrow" of my last post turned out to be laughably overly-optimistic.

But here I am again, ready to give it another go. My computer, counter to all predictions, is still running.  It is wheezing and coughing like a two pack a day smoker, but still running.  So there's that.

What's new?
Quite a huge lot of things.....
Severin is at the University of Grenoble.
Valentine is in her second year at the Fine Arts school in Avignon.

And the twins are hard at work (as I am!) on their costumes for the upcoming Polymanga Con in Switzerland.
Only one week to go and this Game of Thrones cosplay needs to be DONE!
Mallory's Danaerys  outfit is nearly done.  She is hot glue gunning scales to a dragon egg as we speak.
And I am really supposed to be downstairs right now, cutting out the bodice for Alexa's Margaery Tyrell dress.

I will try to post again soon with photos....but no promises.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


My computer is eight years old and has decided that it is time to retire. Maybe move to Florida and play some golf.
I have been slow to accept her decision to move on to a new life of bingo, scrabble tournements or whatever the heck old computers do when they leave their working days behind them.

At any I am, desperately trying to blog on a smartphone keyboard that is the size of a postage stamp.
I have kept this blog going, more or less, since 2006. It seems like a shame to let it die just because Facebook and a dodgy computer seem to be telling me to give up.
There's lots to show and tell.
 See you tomorrow?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

All Shower, All The Time.

After too many mishaps to tell of in this modest blog, we are finally DONE with the last big remodelling project chez nous!

The shower in the kids' bathroom was looking shabby, so we decided that after the guest room and bathroom were done, we'd "freshen up" their shower.

We decided to increase it from  90cm x  90cm to  120 x 120 .  This didn't sound like much on paper, or even look that much bigger when we traced it out on the floor....

But it turned out to be...quite substantial once the walls started to go up.

This is a very, very fancy drain of super-fancy fanciness.
However, it is NOT as fancy as the REALLY  TRULY fancy
drain that I reallywanted,
(which turned out to cost 360 EUROS!!!!!!!).
But it is still pretty nice. 
My idea to use glass brick was pretty brilliant *breaks arm patting self on back. Ouch!*
The bricks work nicely, keeping the shower
 from blocking the light from the window.
The curtain hides  shelves full of towels and sheets.
The plaster bust on top is some random Roman dude, found at the thrift shop.

Please to note the extra-fanciness of the various retro chrome fittings.
I ordered them from Hudson Reed, a place with all sorts of astounding faucets and fixtures.

Another clever feature I dreamed up was the recessed, tiled shelves built into the back wall.
 I have three daughters with long, long hair, and those people use a LOT of product!
(NB: Severin also has long hair, but is not so keen on  hygenie as his lovely sisters)
At any rate, these shelves finally give the kids a place for all their shower stuff.
 I HATE those stupid metal shelves that rust and/or fall down constantly!

If you would like to come over and try this amazing shower out, please contact me and I'll see what I can set up for you.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Lion, the Witch and the Guest Bedroom with Full Bath.

The door on the left?
It used to be a closet. 
But now when you open it, instead of finding assorted winter coats and snowboots, you end up in a magical land where it is winter all year round because of the terrible Snow Queen. would be nice if that were true, because last time I checked, having an imaginary country located  in one's home did NOT involve a month of unholy messes and daily numerous trips to the DIY shop....not to mention actual  painting, tiling, and general hard work.

As you may have gathered from the above, our project is NOT done yet.  Still at least a week to go. 

The stairs have been temporarily put in, making it a lot easier to get in and out.
And  fitting a staircase of any kind into a closet was no mean feat. We had to get special, rather steep ones.
 The room is finally painted and the stratified  flooring ("Celtic Oak") is in.

The light fixtures we chose at Ikea are also up.
There are two, though you can't see the second one in this pic.
Very groovy.

 The bathroom has been taking shape nicely. 
The in-wall suspended toilet turned out really great.

Apparently, they are not very common at all in the USA, as I found out when I was trying to describe the project to my mom.
Here in France it's A Thing.

 We also have the heated towel rack ...which is also totally a must-have in your bastic French bathroom.

Below is the shower.  The glass bricks are to let in light and keep it from feeling too claustrophobic.

I also like the exposed beam.

 This was my brainstorm for the vanity: custom-tiled to match the wall mosaic!! I am SO happy with how it is turning out.
I also ordered a really cool faucet to go with it.....

 This is where it is as of today.... I think the final touches will be done tomorrow and then we will have a brand-new,  fully-functional bathroom!!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Totally Worth Waiting For (AKA Pimp My Garage)

After long silence, it has all built up to this moment:
And what is better than that?
 Nothing- duh!

We need more room in our home in order to welcome guests more comfy-cozily (pretty sure that's not a word, but it is so much cuter than just "comfortably"). This in mind, we ("we" in this case mainly  consisting of  Paul the Roumanian Magician)  have attacked a new moumental project:
 making a nice guest room with full bath in the upper story of our cavernous garage.

What used to  be a closet next the the half bath on the landing now leads to a small, empty (for now) stairwell.  The ladder there takes you to a soon-to-be-finished mini guest suit ( NB: not that it is intended only for smaller than average guests.  The "mini" refers to the fact that it is just an average-sized bedroom with a bathroom thrown in.  Non-palatial in nature.)
It is only 3/4 finished at this point, but I figured that a few "before and  partially finished" photos are in order:
 The new area only takes up half of the total upper floor of the garage.  The other half is still desperately needed for storing all of our plenteous junk.
The little cement block you see at the right edge of the picture above  is part of the closet that was later cut to provide a space for the new stairs to come up.
The above photo was taken at almost exactly the same spot as the one at the top. As you can see, the bathroom takes a chunk out of the space. But I think it's worth it. 
 In the left photo, the ladder is in the hole where the stairs will be installed. And I hope that happens soon, as the ladder is a pain.

This is the exterior wall where the window went in.  It is by far the biggest window in the whole house. These old Savoyard homes were built to keep the heat in and that meant tiny baby windows.

Now we have a nice view of our backyard!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Various Citrus-based Diseases

As I sorted through images to find just the right one for this post, I stumbled upon the following:
I found the image strangely heartening.  
The fact that the ticks are cavorting around on top of a dime means that they are probably at least mildly interested by money, right?
So, maybe you can pay them to leave you alone? 
 Like bullies who take lunch money off cowering schoolyard unfortunates.
 Like all those mafioso-types in films who say that it would be such a shame if something happened to your very nice place of business- such as, maybe, an intense, fuel-soaked inferno tragically burning it all to ashes. And maybe you would give a small sum to help them make sure that such a terrible thing would never come to pass.

Like that?

I would certainly give ticks many, many dimes to leave me alone in the future.  
One run-in with Lyme disease is all a person really needs, thanks very much.

On Thursday night, I felt a bit tired and took some Advil.
By Saturday afternoon, I was in the hospital emergency room with a fever of 104°F.

I never even saw the one that got me.  It was apparently a kamikaze ninja tick- it snuck in, bit me behind the left knee and then ran off back into the mysterious forest from whence it came. 
 Creepy little bastard.

I spent two nights in the hospital.  The first night wasn't too bad- I was quite delirious and hardly remember it. What I mostly recall are  vivid hallucinations about a tiny black kitten made out of crumpled paper. 
 There was also a turkey riding around in the back seat of my dad's pickup.

By day two I felt lots better, though weak.  But I was certainly alert enough to enjoy the amusing company of my roomate, a rather excentric old lady.  She shouted quite a bit.  And when she wasn't shouting, she was burping and farting.  It was kind of hard to decide which was worse. While she was yelling, I'd wish she'd shut up, but then when she did, what followed was no day at the park, either. 
 I wish to god that I was making this all up, but sadly, it is all true.

The kids came to visit me at the hospital.  They regretted that they hadn't brought a bunch of limes.  they could then scatter them across me as I lay in my hospital bed and take a photo that could be captioned in a humorous fashion:, such as:  "Poor mom has Lime disease"
The loling would have been endless, I am sure.

At any rate, I am back home now, taking antibiotics and trying to rest a bit. 
And I'll be keeping  some spare change in the pocket of my robe...just in case.

BTW- Happy Fourth of July!!!!!!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pimp My Livingroom

This post is not about television programs, travel or bubonic plague. It is about my all-time favorite topic: renovating our sweet and rather exasperating old house.
Yes- in May, The New and Improved Romanian Handyman showed up. Actually, we don't call him that. That would be silly.   We refer to him as "DJ Pauly G".  Not to his face- even though the girls mean it in the nicest possible way.  It is just their way of expressing the amount of his awesomeness. The truth is, the man works miracles!  Just look!

 This is the "before " shot. This living room is quite small and has one tiny window.  One!  Only a cave-dwelling troll would have thought to "improve" the place with dark varnished wood ceilings. Sadly, the previous owners were cave-dwelling trolls with a decorating budget.....

Not that our own  "improvements" over the years turned out much better.  The textured wall treatment was my bright idea.  I started hating it the minute I finished putting it all over the walls. Definitely time for a change.....

This is where Paul took down the wall between the living room and the entry hall.  The idea was to make that wasted space part of the living room and give it some much-needed volume....

It was so great to get that horrible wood off the ceiling.  But under it was tons of lathe and plaster.....
As you can see to the right in the photo,  there is
the old opening leading to the main staircase of the house  leading up to the bedrooms. This would be blocked up and the space behind transformed into a closet.....

 Dust ruled our lives for many; many days.  Every surface in the house was covered....

One of the worst things about the hated textured wall plaster was that it was so hellish to remove.  We had to use a wallpaper steamer and putty knives to chip it off little by little. It was truly Satan's Wallpaper

The green being uncovered here is the original wall color from back at the turn of the century.... So, that is an historically accurate revolting shade of green.  Call the Smithsonian!

As for the clean-up task-  luckily we had help from R2D2's cousin.  (see below right-hand  corner)  He's never, ever been in a movie and his name is Kevin.  Sucks to be him.
 Anyway, the above may look similar to what we started with...but it is actually COMPLETELY different.  The room is now about a meter longer, the ceiling is NOT a disgusting troll-ceiling and the floor is a lovely oak parquet instead of splintery pine....