feline friday is all caged up

We’re fortunate that we have doors to our living room, because whenever I do a renovation I can put Luna and Loki in “kitty jail” so that they don’t get into paint or dust.

While they both usually go in willingly, Luna is never very happy about it.


And usually tries to escape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd typically glares at me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApparently being locked in a room with your food, water, scratching post, two couches, and AIR CONDITIONING is horrible.  I think Loki has adjusted, though.




to my dad, for his birthday

Dear Dad,

Your birthday was yesterday, and I didn’t get you a card. I haven’t in a long time, so this year wasn’t different, but you were on my mind the whole day, just on the periphery of my mental to-do list that’s always churning.

You would freak over the amount of work we still have to do here. I spackled the dining room walls today.  Part of me thinks it would be quicker to just tear all the plaster down, but I think it came out pretty good. You could probably point out some spots I missed, but as good as I am, I’m still not at the level of attention to detail that you have. And you’d probably tell me that not all the prints in the house are level; every time I straighten one I chuckle in my head and think of you.  The moldings in the living room and dining room are in good shape, but I’d love to add some upstairs.  I wish you could help me with them. I really wish you could come see this place.

For your birthday, I just wanted to tell you that I hope you know that you were never one of those dads I was embarrassed by.  In fact, I was always proud of you and mom, and loved bringing my friends home. Whenever I missed the bus home after middle school, I was happy that I could call and knew you would come pick me up.  You would always ask about my day, and would always let me play whatever music I wanted.  Yeah, you made fun of The Cranberries (and called them the Raspberries) but I knew you were just teasing.

Paul and I had a friend over for lunch a few weeks ago and we started talking about what TV we watched as kids. I remember how you sat through more than half of the My So-Called Life marathon on MTV with me, not to make sure that it was appropriate, but because you liked watching TV with me. I hope you know how rare and special that was.  I would love to see your reaction to American Pickers. I think we would enjoy watching that together.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 16 years. But then I try to remember your voice, and it all comes crashing back that you’ve been gone for over half my life. I talk to you in my head, sometimes, when I’m trying to figure out a problem in the house. There are so many things that we missed. I find fragments of you in the house from time to time. Things that I thought were back on Long Island or tucked away in a box. A card that you gave me when I won an academic medal in German class, a picture of you as a toddler that Oma framed, your old work glasses spattered with paint.

Mom gave me your watch recently. It’s huge on me, but I can see the hole where you used to tighten the leather band to, slightly worn, and I can almost remember your hands. I get so upset sometimes when Mom gives me something of yours. Not angry, mind you, but terribly sad because they’re the only things I have left of you. All I have are those things, and my few memories, and the wonderful stories that mom shares with me. I treasure those things because, in my mind, they keep part of you alive.

You would have turned 71 yesterday. Retired, I would think, and driving mom nuts with house projects or your model trains. I still would have stolen your red L.L. Bean flannel shirt from you, and you probably would have blamed your balding on me at some point. I would have made you sit down and translate your letters from Tante Lötte, written in her neat German script, so I could find out about that side of my family that I never knew. German was supposed to be our secret language together, but I never mastered it without you. We would have done so many things.

Happy birthday, Dad.

Ich liebe dich.


and for my next trick…

Today officially marked the first day of my staycation and I couldn’t be more excited!!! Being an admission coordinator means that I’m pretty much “on” all the time. There are always questions, interviews, open houses, and applications waiting to be screened. So for the majority of the year, especially because the particular program I do admissions for just opened for the innaugural class, I was running around trying to figure out how to do my job, and pretty much neglecting any house projects I had wanted to do. But not now!

It’s our slow time so I’m on vacation until July 1! When I told some friends this, the first question they asked was “What’s the house project?” So without further ado…



I am finally doing the dining room! Now, some of you may ask “but… isn’t it done?” Well, my dear readers, the answer is… kinda. Within 48 hours of moving into the house a friend helped us strip the wallpaper in here. That taught us a few things. One, our walls are most definitely plaster. Two, holographic wallpaper from the 80s SUCKS. And three, if you allow your kids to write curses and their phone numbers on the plaster walls prior to hanging paper, the next owner will probably find it AND be unable to remove the writing, even with TSP. Solution? We painted right away.

We loved this color green when we first did the room. However, it later dawned on us that the base of this color is WAY too yellow for the rest of our house. In a lot of houses, it probably wouldn’t matter if one color strayed from the palette of the other rooms, but as we’re a center hall colonial, you can stand at our front door and see the hallway, living room, dining room, and upstairs hallway all at once.

I already primed all the woodwork, including the chair-rail-from-hell, so this room won’t take as long as a typical room in my house. I’m just hoping that I can get everything done in one week. And I can’t WAIT to share the results when we finish.

Wish me luck!

herb love

Yesterday I was starving around 3:30 and remembered I hadn’t eaten lunch. I was already home for the day, so I decided to raid the kitchen. I found a bag of ricotta tortellini, but didn’t want to open a whole jar of sauce for myself. I had a vine tomato that needed to be used and some leftover feta but not much else. So out to my garden I went, cut some fresh basil and cilantro, chopped everything up, and voila! Instant pasta topping.

It may not have been fancy, but it was delicious. Nothing is better than fresh basil with pasta. I love having fresh herbs growing just a few feet from my kitchen.


etymology of your dining room

I had the most interesting challenge come up today. Well, okay it was a conversation, but I took the outcome as a personal challenge. Most people I work with know that I am a font and the guardian extraordinaire of a plethora of useless factoids and information.   In fact, I get teased for it a lot, to the point where I sometimes just throw a tidbit out there to see the reaction I get. I guarantee one day someone I work with will be watching Jeopardy and will know the answer because of something I’ve said. Like knowing what arachibutryophobia is…

ANYWAY…. A co-worker just helped her parents move and was describing the new furniture that was purchased for the dining room.  My co-worker was explaining how the buffet had to be positioned off center because of a vent, to which I replied that my sideboard was off center in my dining room. My co-worker gave me a quizzical look and said, “Aren’t they the same thing? A buffet and a sideboard?”  And thus, my challenge was born!

So, dear readers, if you ever wanted a brief, internet research based* explanation of the etymology of your dining room furniture, search no further! Because I have nothing better to do on a rainy afternoon than provide you with this useless fascinating information.

Apparently a “sideboard” is the family of furniture which includes any piece used as storage and display. By that definition, most media centers that have storage are probably also considered a sideboard.

my sideboard which holds more liquor than wealth or silver

my sideboard which holds more liquor than wealth or silver

So a buffet is actually defined as a small sideboard to store dishes, linens, and serve food. As you know, buffet also refers to a way to serve food en masse, also known as a Smörgåsbord (which is a Swedish meal made up of a bunch of cold dishes all served on the same table buffet-style, but the word is now used in English to portray a variety of options). The use of the word buffet apparently comes from 16th century France, referring to a display of wealth (like silver and crystal) as well as the furniture it is displayed on.

a buffet sideboard, from overstock.com

Then there is also a credenza! Typically made of wood with a center section flanked by glass doored sections on either side, credenza comes from the 16th century Italian where it was used as a verb, meaning the sampling/tasting of drink and food by a servant to make sure it wasn’t poisoned before serving to noblemen. Basically, it’s a buffet but you can see in. And don’t forget it’s also a sideboard!

Oh and don’t leave out the breakfront! I’ve always wondered why it was called that, and assumed it was because the front is usually glass and easily broken.  But nope! It’s a piece of furniture with a curve, typically tall, and the curve of the center section is “broken” by extending forward from the sections on the side.

a gorgeous example of a breakfront! from uantique.com

Similar to your breakfront is a hutch (also known as a Welsh dresser, kitchen dresser, pewter dresser, or china cabinet, AND very similar to a hoosier cabinet). A hutch is a cabinet that has drawers and a cabinet below, topped by a counter/surface/sideboard, along with a shelving unit above.  Originally, a piece of furniture like this was really just for utility, and commonly found in the kitchen. This is the place where you would prep your food, and then prepared food was put on your sideboard/buffet/credenza in your dining room. Sometimes there would be a long drawer just under the cabinet that was lined with tin so you could put cooked items to cool and sit before served. As time went on, the shelves went from storing food to and your every day plates to displaying the best-of-the-best crockery that you owned.

my dining room hutch

my dining room hutch

And do you have a drop leaf table in your dining room? It’s also known as an Irish Wake table or coffin table.  There is a fabulous article about it here, and I wouldn’t want to do it injustice by paraphrasing. Let’s just say that when it’s used as designed, you would NOT be eating off of it.

So, my dear friends, there is some additional knowledge that you probably didn’t need. I personally love knowing the back story to expressions and etymology of words.  Just ask me about soffits some day.

* Thank you to Wikipedia, Ask.com, This Old House, and a variety of other websites where I gleaned all this information.  It’s actually nice knowing what to properly call the things I own.