Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Sawyer and I weren't feeling well today, so we stayed home and celebrated Earth Day by watching part of the Blue Planet series from the Discovery Channel. It's fabulous and kept Sawyer enthralled for much longer than I expected it to. He especially got into the parts about penguins - he's been on a penguin kick lately. According to Sawyer a penguin says "Eek!" in a very high pitched voice. I have no idea if he's right or not. Anyone know what a penguin really says?

I'm not the best at making environmentally friendly choices (I drive a Dodge Durango for heaven's sake!) but I have tried to change a few things in the past couple of years. Learning to make soap and other bath products was a big eye opener for me because I now know what's in most commercially produced products and it's mostly not good. I'm much more stingy in my use of heating/air conditioning than I used to be. And when we had to buy a new washer/dryer we opted for an energy friendly choice even though it was more expensive.
Probably my favorite change I have made is a really simple one - using reusable grocery bags. I bought a bunch of the Wegmans bags (99 cents each) and I love them. I'd use them even if they weren't "green" because they're so sturdy; the groceries stack up perfectly inside, they don't spill all over the back of my car, and since they're so much larger than the plastic bags, I can get a whole week's worth of groceries into 3 or 4 bags rather than 8 to 10 plastic ones.

So that's my attempt to save the Earth. Kind of lame, I know, but big changes start with small ones, right?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Before and After

After a lot of work and some camera drama (USB cables got lost in the move) I finally have some before and after pictures of the decorating we've done to the house.

First here's the kitchen before.
All the cabinet knobs were shiny gold, which really didn't go with the gray/white/silver quartz counters. And the wall color was much too warm and light.

This is after changing the cabinet hardware and before painting:

And the finished product. Well, almost finished. I still want to replace the sink and the appliances.

The walls are Restoration Hardware's Silver Sage. I got the cabinet pulls very inexpensively on eBay (less than $60 for all of them.)

Next, the breakfast room, which is next to the kitchen. Before:
Notice the lovely circa 1980s brass chandelier. Not my fave. In this room I painted, replaced the chandelier and got a new table and chairs. After:

I got the chandelier online, the table from Ethan Allen, and the chairs, believe it or not, from Walmart. They are surprisingly well built and sturdy, and they were much cheaper than buying them from a furniture store (or even used chairs on Craigslist). The walls are Silver Sage just like the kitchen - the color in these is much more accurate since they're daytime shots.

And finally, the family room. This one took the longest because we had to cover up the cranberry red on the walls.

Here's the room after three - that's right, THREE - coats of Kilz primer:

The color we chose was Restoration Hardware's Flax. I painted the mantel white to make it look more continuous with the trim and to "pop" more against the darker walls (incidentally, I don't think it's possible to talk about decorating without using the word "pop." Just watch HGTV for 5 minutes.) I got the drapes from JC Penney and curtain rods from Target - since this is our TV room we needed a way to block out sunlight from the wall of windows

We still have a lot to do in here - we're going to mount the TV above the fireplace on a tilt mount and install surround speakers. We also want a couple of new couches to make a U-formation around the TV/fireplace. And I can't wait to get rid of the huge white and gold ceiling fan, as well as move Eric's hideous (but extremely comfy) recliner into another room. It's really nice to have the red walls gone. I like red, but it was just too much since it's such a large room. At night time it felt like we were sitting in hell.

So that's phase 1 of my decorating plans. Next on the list is the 2 weird bedrooms (the tiled one and the sewing/craft room), my soaping space in the basement, and the bathrooms. I'm going to take a break first though.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Flight of the Conchords Live

Last night Eric and I went to see Flight of the Conchords perform at Constitution Hall. It was so much fun. Eric's not as big a fan as I am, but he loved the show, and we were both laughing from start to finish.

Kristen Schaal (Mel from the show) was the opening act and she was hilarious. This is her tribute to Law and Order SVU.

Bret and Jemaine came out (inexplicably dressed as robots) and gave a rousing rendition of "Too Many D*#$s on the Dance Floor" - adult language notwithstanding it was hilarious. Then they removed the robot costumes and settled down into acoustic mode for a long setlist, not in this exact order but including:
"The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)"
"Stana" this one was new to me - it's a Johnny Cash-style story about a man whose name is an anagram of "Satan." Really funny.
"Hurt Feelings (Tears of a Rapper)" - the clip is from last night's show and opens with dialogue about how they've been wondering how DC is doing since they were here last year, but they've been unable to find out since we're never all in the same place at the same time. Best line: "The day after my birthday is not my birthday, Mum!"

"If You're Into It"
"Carol Brown" - girls in the audience got to sing along with the chorus
"Motha'uckas" (with Bret on drums)
"Not Crying"
"Jenny" - one of my all-time Conchord faves

"Hip-Hopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros"
"You Don't Have to be a Prostitute"
"Bus Driver's Song" (this was new to me too)
"Business Time"

On a lot of the songs they were joined by what they referred to as the New Zealand National Symphony Orchestra - otherwise known as a guy named Nigel who plays the cello. The cello added a lot to the arrangements of the songs and sometimes doubled as a bass. Well done, Nigel!

Some of the funniest parts were the banter between songs. At one point lots of people were yelling out requests and Jemaine went into baby-talk mode to tell everyone to shush. (I took this video on my iPhone, which is why the quality is so bad.) He went on like this for a while, and Bret finally said "Seriously, if you don't listen to him he'll carry on. He did this for 45 minutes in Orlando."

Later in the show Jemaine said "Hmm, this isn't going very well. We shouldn't listen to you when you tell us what to play. Sometimes democracy doesn't work, DC." Several people cheered and he continued, "Ah, I see we have quite a few fans of dictatorships here tonight!" Another time when people were yelling out requests someone yelled "Free Bird!" Jemaine said "I've always wondered - is there one person in every town whose job it is to yell 'Free Bird'?" Bret: "Or is it the same guy, following us around?" Jemaine: "Do you even know 'Free Bird'?" Bret: "Never heard it."

And my favorite of the night - a medley of "We're Both In Love With A Sexy Lady" and "Sugalumps." It was not only hilarious but also really cool musically. Near the end Bret reached out into the audience to touch the hand of a girl near the stage - but right before she got close enough he jumped back and called the bouncer over to get her. So funny!

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