Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Broken Water Heater!

Well, the water heater broke, and started leaking all over the basement floor.  Thankfully, we spotted it early, as it happened on the weekend when we were working in the basement.  The water heater is 12 years old.  They should last to 15 years, but you never know how it was treated by the prior owners.  There were warning signs that it was going bad, but I hadn't really understood them as this is our first house.  There were a couple inexplicably cold showers, and we'd had to turn up the burners on it because it wasn't getting water hot enough anymore for even two people to take a shower.

Apparently, you should drain the sediment out of your water heater every spring to extend its life.  Who knew?  We'll take better care of the new one.

A new water heater is expensive, but not a huge cost in the grand scheme of things.  In the category of "big permanent fixtures that you have to deal with in a house but not an apartment", this is one of the cheapest.  Plus, we've had a rather high gas bill this winter, and a new energy efficient one might actually save us money in the long run.  And we have super hot water for our visitors this weekend - Ben's parents are coming to help us.  Since Ben's dad is a contractor, we have every confidence that he's the best person to help us with some very tricky projects.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mulford Rowhouse Cleans Up Nicely

We finished up the arches, put away some projects, and cleaned up the place for some friends coming into town.  It was nice to see a preview of how the place will look, but it's going to get messy again before it gets better!

There is absolutely nothing hanging on the walls- no art, no mirrors, nothing.  So everything is quite unfinished, and rather boring looking.

Totally blank walls!  It's weird how much art makes the space look like home.  This has a temporary rental feel right now, haha.
Entryway below.  I did not paint the arch yellow- it's the last layer of drywall which is yellow for some reason.  Can't remember why or what it does.  Needs paint - the whole room does, but it wasn't finished until this weekend.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Rug Doctor

Lately, we've been on a rug shopping kick.  I've been trying to decide what color / design of rug that I want, and Ben has been on Craigslist hunting for deals on rugs.  There are A LOT of different colors and patterns to choose from, it's a very daunting task, especially considering I've never bought a rug before.  

So, I did some mockups of what the living room would look like with different rugs:

Right away, I was able to determine that I didn't want anything too dark, or too light (middle two pictures), and that I didn't want cool colors (bottom two).  

The top two examples were still in contention, the red rug vs the neutral gold rug.  When I showed Ben and my mom, they both voted enthusiastically for the red rug.  

So we began a hunt in earnest for a red rug.  I wanted some thing more towards the "scarlet" end of the spectrum for red, something with a touch of orange in it.  It's a happier red than blood red or maroon.  

I found these rugs on Ebay, which is actually a pretty good place to shop for rugs, a lot of rug dealers will unload merchandise that's been stuck in their shop for awhile, for cheap prices on Ebay.  At first glance, this rug was perfect.  And it was only $160.00

However, upon closer inspection, it was truly a flatweave rug, with not a bit of plushness to it, which was not ideal for comfort.  Plus, it is on the very edge of acceptable fading, and I didn't like the folksy flowers along the edge.

Then I tried Craigslist.  This lovely rug was just over my price range, but I thought I'd have Ben make an offer anyway.  Ben is a very charming bargainer, whereas I am a terrible bargainer, stricken with guilt and wild panic that shows all over my face.  Ben started his bargaining at half the list price, and the seller accepted so quickly that we wished we had gone even lower!

It is 100% wool, handwoven in Iran, from an old lady's estate.  The seller also had her Hermes scarves, Horchow silverware, handblown Venetian glass, and her Regency-era teabox purchased at Sotheby's (all of it is a fantastic deal, and I wanted to buy it all, good thing we didn't bring any extra cash).

I'm really happy with the geometric design, the happy scarlet tone of the red, the touches of blue -- plus, it's good quality, and made to last.  Ben went to pick it up this morning, the house is now filled with rugs (we bought 3 jute ones for a steal from Lake Forest last week).  Can't wait to set it all up and take some pictures this weekend -- plus the arched entryways are almost done!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday Roast Chicken

This roast chicken with garlic and shallots couldn't be easier, and it was so delicious.

Sunday Roast Chicken
- One whole chicken
-Half a lemon
-olive oil
-Two whole heads of garlic
-4 shallots
-parsley (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rub the outside of the chicken with oil, and salt and pepper
  3. Shove the lemon half inside of the chicken
  4. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes per lb + 10 minutes (for our 6 lb chicken, this amounted to 100 minutes)
  5. 50 minutes before the chicken is done (for our 6-kb bird, this was at minute 50), add the unpeeled cloves of the 2 heads of garlic and the whole, unpeeled shallots into the roasting pan
  6. When the chicken is done cooking, spoon the juices over the skin while the meat rests.
  7. Wait at least 5 minutes to carve the chicken
  8. Eat the chicken with the roasted garlic and shallots- they will easily pop out of their skins and they are soft and sweet.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Thanks Martha!

Martha sent me a postcard, with a free year of Martha Stewart magazine :)