Archive for ‘Happiness is’

February 18, 2018

I am not dead, I just bought a house

by Janie Jones

Greetings to anyone still out there.

I did buy a house last June.  Not the one mentioned in the previous post.  That first house ended up having some issues with the inspection that I didn’t want to deal with.  As it happens, I found something I liked better a short while later.  So even though it was stressful, it worked out well in the end.  How often do I say that?!?

This is the house I did buy:

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Janie, the spud and Rupert on the front steps of our new home

Built in 1919, it’s a traditional two storey with 3 bedrooms and a partially finished basement with a 4th bedroom.  There is a large kitchen with a fairly open concept living room-dining room.  The yard is very small, but out back the home has a nice big deck, a detached garage and extra off street parking (a big must in my area).   While in good structural condition, it was lost in the 80s and needed a lot of cosmetic upgrades.  Most urgently the rooms all needed fresh paint and to ditch the 30+ year old carpet.  Underneath most of the nasty old carpet was maple hardwood flooring.  It has been a laborious, stressful and expensive process getting the floors re-finished, but they are finally done everywhere except the stair case (which my contractor was supposed to have done before Thanksgiving, but that’s another story) and the kitchen.  I have new tile for the kitchen, so hopefully I can look into getting that re-done soon as well.  Eventually I also want to paint the exterior.  I am not fond of that brick red color and, though you can’t really tell in this blurry, enlarged photo, the paint job was pretty shoddy.

This is not my first house reno, but it is the first time I had to do a whole house by myself while working two jobs.  It has not been a pretty process; I have broken down and hired contractors for a lot of the floor work and while it saved me personally a lot of time, the dealing with people who don’t give a rat’s ass about what you want even though you are paying them to work on your house has been very frustrating.  But I am almost done (conveniently I am also almost out of money) and I am really looking forward to having a home to be proud of again.  Lately I have been, what do they call it?  Oh, yes.  Happy.

I still have a massive pile of unpacked crap in my basement.  Mostly it is stuff for the kitchen, dining room and decorative fru-fru (such as my wall hangings, decorative glass and pottery) but as I haven’t decided what to do about the kitchen, which is in much need of new, well, everything, and I am still working on finishing painting and wallpapering some of the interior rooms it hasn’t made sense to unpack it all.  However, I did go and set up all my Christmas decorations.  Some of which hadn’t seen the light of day since December of 2013.  When the spud arrived home for the holiday, she said, “Momma, our new house looks like a movie set.”  I knew then that all was right with the world.

My second job, being seasonal, is over for the winter, but the reno work is still slow going.  Most projects have to happen on the weekends and be woven in between other mundane things like grocery shopping and laundry and the occasional fun times with friends.  And, after the holidays, I deflated upon putting away all the decorations and got nothing done but sofa surfing during most of my free time in January.  But, I am trying to grab my motivation by the scruff and shake it back into action.  I do really want to get stuff done, it’s just boring and, well, exhausting to work all week at the JOB then work on the house.  Plus, I don’t really like sanding, and staining, and painting and wallpapering, I just want the finished product.

Things got really bad a few weeks back until I had an epiphany:  Audio books.  I got myself a subscription to Amazon’s Audible, and listened to a Jane Austen spin-off while painting the dining room.  *Cue corny music*  Ahh-ahh-ahh!  I actually started to look forward to painting so I could listen to what would happen to Elizabeth and Darcy in the next chapter.  So, hopefully my new subscription will help keep my nose to the grindstone.  Today’s task awaiting me once I am done here, is to build my new china cabinets and listen to the sequel to the book I listened to while painting.

Anyway, I appear to have digressed.  Those last few paragraphs were probably very dull reading.  The point I was trying to make was, while I am happy, I am getting a bit tired of always being on the job with the house reno stuff.  I want it done so I can just enjoy my new home in my free time.  Eventually I will get there.  And, I will probably be pleased as punch and foist before and after photos on you all.  You might not want to come back to my blog at that point….

Thanks so much to those of you who have always been such an amazing support network for me.  I don’t know if it has been because of the craziness of life, or what, but I just haven’t had the blogging muse despite missing you all.  It has been a tough decade, but I think I might be able to say I’ve finally made it through.  Even though I don’t write much anymore, I do think of you often and how honored I am to have had you as readers and friends.  Hope 2018 finds you all well and enjoying the best life has to offer.

Hugs,

Janie Jones, homeowner

 

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January 14, 2016

A whole pile of cutie

by Janie Jones

Leif’s dog, Vera, had puppies yesterday/this morning:

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So far there are nine puppies.

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The proud mum at dinner time.

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Oy! Dog-grampy! That’s a bright light!

 

Vera appears to be doing well and the puppies so far seem to be hale and hearty, mewling loudly when hungry and all latching on to eat.

Hope that starts your day with an “Awwwww!”

January 10, 2016

Ottoman Upholstery

by Janie Jones

I actually enjoy giving old stuff a face lift and making it beautiful again.  While I don’t like being called a dumpster diver, some of my favorite furniture pieces were things people were going to throw away just because they had a rip in the fabric or were outdated.

About eight years ago I inherited an ottoman that some people were going to throw away.  It was covered in a beige vinyl faux-leather and had been in a flood so it was discolored and moldy.  But it was sturdy so I peeled off the vinyl and underneath it looked like brand new wood with nary a hint of decay or warping.  I put on new batting, a pillow top and some new beige fabric with a pretty burgundy and gold braided trim.  I even hammered in some decorative upholstery tacks.  It was lovely.  For about two days.  Then the spud, aged 3 and a half, scribbled on it in black magic marker.  I got some of it out.  Then she pulled off the braided trim.  Then I cried, put it in the basement and figured some day I would try again.

When I moved to the Big City in the fall of 2014, I brought it with me to use in my room in town.  But it was ugly.  Last year after Christmas I splurged and bought some new blue velvet foot stools and the ugly ottoman was relegated to the living room with all the ugly, beat up, old furniture left by the owners for common use.  However, I have been meaning ever since I moved to town to fix it up.  First I thought I’d just buy a slip cover.  But they seemed ridiculously expensive, and none were appealing.  So this winter break I determined to reupholster it.  Yesterday, armed with a 40% off coupon I went to the fabric store and found a lovely caramel-color wide wale chenille corduroy fabric.  I got enough to cover the whole ottoman for less than $6 (slip covers tend to run for at least $30, by the way), paid about $3 for a box of staples, and reused the batting, pillow topper, and some of the decorative upholstery tacks from before.  In about an hour the ottoman was transformed.  A decorative throw from Ecuador (a gift from a friend) on top makes it look amazing.

Ottoman Before

The sad, pathetic ottoman destroyed by the Spud.

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Pay no attention to the ugly sofas in the back ground. …

 

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Ooohh. Aahhhh. What a lovely ottoman you have, Janie.

And, to think:  Someone was going to throw this ottoman away, when all it took was a little thrifty shopping, an hour or so of time and less than $10 total for supplies to make it beautiful.  Some people….

December 25, 2015

Dogs like Christmas, Dog-Mom.

by Janie Jones

Are those small brown packages dog presents?  Oooh, I bet they are!

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I smell dog bones….

November 1, 2015

I freakin’ killed it!

by Janie Jones

I’ve been feeling pretty shredded lately.  The whole school thing, as you all are aware, is really wearing on me.  Thursday though, was the designated day to take the graduate school entrance exam, the GRE.

I have not really been dreading the exam, but I have been so beaten down from the rigors of studying that I had started to contemplate if I was really cut out for graduate school, or if I should just declare myself unfit and give up.  It has been so overwhelming that, though I don’t doubt I’m smart enough, I doubt whether or not I have the physical ability to perform under these stressful conditions.

I paid a not inconsiderable amount of money to take this exam, and I had no time or energy to prepare.  I went in Thursday morning mostly worried I was wasting money I didn’t have because I’d be so strung out I’d bomb the test.  When I wasn’t worried about failing and wasting money, I was mostly numb and moving like I was some automaton.

Apparently cheating on these exams is a huge problem.  So security getting in to sit the exam was tighter than that for getting on an airplane or entering a government building.  You had to hand write an affidavit swearing you would follow a bunch of rules, you had to lock all your possessions in a locker the test facility provided.  You could not bring anything in except your clothes, which had to have all the pockets turned out, sleeves and pant legs were inspected and no watch or any other type of electronic device was permitted.  Then you were scanned with a metal detector and photographed.  Once you were “cleared” you could not leave the building without forfeiting your exam.  If you had to use the toilet, you had to go through the whole process again.

But, despite the drama of checking in, the first bits of the test, writing analysis and verbal reasoning, were almost fun.  It was like a logic puzzle, which I like.  The maths were hard, which scared me, and honestly I had to just guess on a whole lot of the questions.  And, near the end of the test (3 hours) I began to get tired and that began to erode my enjoyment and confidence in the process.

When the test was over I got a preliminary score on the verbal reasoning and math sections.  But there was no explanation of what the numbers meant, so I walked off feeling unsure and worried.  In about two weeks I should have the grade back from my writing analysis so I hoped that when they would forward my score for that there would be some formal announcement of my final score and what it means.

Of course couldn’t stop thinking about it.  And, while I sat here eating my breakfast and contemplating the mountain of homework before me, I thought perhaps I might dig about a bit on the ol’ web and see if there’s some explanation somewhere on the GRE website about how the tests are scored to give me some insight on my preliminary results.

So, if memory serves, I got a 167 on the verbal reasoning and a 142 on the math portion.  According to the GRE websites these numbers are based on a maximum possible value of 170 points.

Which means I scored a 98% on the verbal skills and 83% on the math!!!

Apparently when the final report is sent to me I will be ranked with the mass of other people taking the exam over the last couple years and told what percentile I fall into.  So, I still don’t entirely know how smart, or dumb, I might be in comparison with the rest of the graduate school bound masses, but I will be doing a happy dance just to know that despite all the self-doubt and worry I have at least answered 98% of the verbal reasoning questions correctly.  And, considering my math disabilities, 83% on that portion makes me very happy too.

I just might feel like I can finish this semester on a high note.

October 9, 2015

I’ve been negligent

by Janie Jones

It suddenly occurs to me that I never shared the big news with ya’ll.  At first I waited to get some good photos, then school got crazy, as it always does, and apparently it slipped my mind.

Anyway.  Drum roll please:

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No, you aren’t seeing double.

Leif adopted a new dog a few weeks ago.  Now he has a brace of white German shepherds.

Say hello to Vince:

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He’s about 18 months and a total sweetheart.  Who doesn’t love a new dog?

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Vera is in black, Vince in orange.  His previous owner had to move out of state and couldn’t bring him with.  Sad for them, but happy for Vince, ’cause now he gets to live the farm life.  And, he has a live in girlfriend.

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“Um, Dog-dad.  There is a boy lying on my living room rug.  What is he doing here?  Surely you’re not going to let him stay?”

All joking aside, they seem to make a happy pack.  Apparently they play all day.  They run, frolic, wrestle, and constantly try to one up each other for prime sofa and bed acreage and monopolize the petting.  Poor old Rupert, he’d never get a single pet if Leif didn’t toss the two young whippersnappers out by themselves once and a while so Rupert can get some love in peace.

So Vince is settling in pretty well at the farm.  He has decided that Rupert means business when he doesn’t want to play.  He’s learning to respect the chickens as pack members and not chew toys and has a morning chat with the rabbits every day where they stand nose to nose at the bars of the rabbit hutches.  It also seems he has made friends with Duncan the cat, they even share dinner:

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So, all’s well at the farm.  Now if only bones would rain from the sky.

 

October 5, 2015

118 Days and Counting

by Janie Jones

I had a lovely weekend.

Leif “kidnapped” me on Friday night.  We went to the farm, where I could sleep in my real bed, albeit one covered in dog hair.  I woke up Saturday to a pack of slobbery dog kisses.  We had fried potatoes, farm fresh eggs and sausages for breakfast.  We packed a picnic and drove up the shore of Big Lake so we could admire the fall colors and the clear blue waves.  The afternoon was spent sitting on the beach.  It was around 50 F, and the day started sunny, but by the time we made the 2+ hour drive to our favorite spot some clouds had rolled in.  Between the lower temp, the clouds and a very, very brisk wind we saw few other beachcombers.  But we didn’t mind, we’d bundled up appropriately.

The dogs frolicked.  We cooked soup on the camp stove and watched the dogs dodge six foot waves.  We made hot cocoa and snuggled under a wool blanket until the dogs started shivering, because, really dog mom, why should we sit still under a warm blanket when there is so much glorious beach romping fun to be had?

At last we decided to pack up before it got dark and made our way home.  We were all tired, but it had been a wonderful day.  Somehow, I managed not to take a single photo, but you all can imagine how lovely it was, can’t you?

*Sigh*  Unfortunately, not every day can be a day at the beach.  It’s back to class.

Only 118 more days of class and I’m done spending my weekends studying.  Then perhaps I can enjoy more beach time….