Monday, November 20, 2017

Fun Times in Boston

Jon and I went to Boston last week for the Schwartz Center Compassionate Care Awards Dinner. Jon was one of six finalists for this award. The final winner was Dr. Rana Awdish, a physician in Detroit. It's a huge honor to be a finalist and the dinner was an impressive affair. The governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker was there! Jon's mother and three of his brothers came from Buffalo, Pittsburg, South Carolina, and New Hampshire to attend the dinner with us, and Jon's niece who lives in Boston came as well, and also the associate dean of the UVA school of nursing, who came to represent UVA, but who is also a friend. Not only that, my friend Norah, an old classmate from high school and college works in healthcare in Boston and attends the dinner every year. We haven't seen each other in years, so it was great to hang out with her and her colleagues. Altogether a fabulous evening!

But Wednesday night and most of the day Thursday I had to myself because Jon was busy with Schwartz Center activities. Wednesday night, I had dinner with Swati - she and her sister Chitra are my first friends.  We moved to Boston when I was three and my mother almost immediately made friends with one of the other mothers at our library story hour. This other mother had recently moved to the US from India and she and my mom, both new to Boston became very good friends and also became friends with a mom who'd moved here from Germany. So our three families, all transplants, became close and even spent holidays together. My family moved away when I was five, but we continued to keep in touch and visit back and forth. It's funny how after an absence of over twenty years you can still pick up with an old friend as if you'd only seen each other yesterday.

The T red line from South Boston to downtown

Thursday, after getting my hair styled at a blow out bar near our hotel (we stayed in the Seaport area in South Boston) I took the T downtown. First I visited the New England Holocaust Memorial.

Each of the glass towers represents one of the concentration camps. The assigned number of each prisoner is etched into the glass of each tower.

I wandered around the North End, sort of following the Freedom Trail, but I lost it after passing through a construction zone. I ended up at Paul Revere's house, which I toured . The house was built in 1680, and 17th century houses are quite different from the 18th century houses that we usually associate with the colonial era. It is forbidden to take pictures inside, but the house is dark and cozy with stupendous fireplaces and impressive wood paneling and beams. The first floor is furnished with authentic 17th century furniture and upstairs are 18th century pieces that belonged to Revere himself.  I was the only visitor, so maybe that helped, but it was easy to imagine what life might have been like in that house in the 17th and 18th centuries. There's also an adjacent visitors' center with more exhibits, including silver made by Revere, and a gift shop, where I couldn't resist buying their cross stitch patterns. For the modest $5 entrance fee, it's well worth it to visit.

Paul Revere House

The manganese used in glass making would discolor over time, leading to these colored glass panes. People at the time considered it to be a defect. Below are some random North End pics.

I love the old-fashioned letter box. Still in use!

In Copp's Hill Burying Ground

I want to buy this house and turn it into my Fortress of Solitude

It had begun to rain, so, sheltering my hairdo under a hood, I made my way to the Boston Public Market, a large indoor market with everything from groceries to prepared foods and coffee to gifts and handicrafts. Everything sold there must be local. I love, love, love markets and this one reminded me of the English Market in Cork, Ireland. I settled down with a chai latte and then returned to the T and rode back to the hotel, rested for a bit and then headed over to the dinner at the nearby Boston Convention Center. We had a great time, but I made an early night of it since I had a 5:50 am flight home the next morning. (It's totally worth it to get up insanely early and be one of the first flights out. I had no delays and was in Cville by 9:30 am. Jon, on the other hand, had a later flight and could sleep in, but got delayed and wasn't home until nearly 11:00 pm.)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Soft Reveal of the Porch

The porch is finished, more or less. There are a few decorating things to settle, but the major components of this project are complete.

First of all, here's how it looked when I started.

I put the basket chair at the curb and the new neighbor next door asked if she could have it.
I'm glad it gets to stay in the neighborhood.

And here's how it looks, as of yesterday:

The tree is intended to be a holiday decoration.
I'll decorate it and dress up the pot later.

Endless potential for seasonal tablescapes. I just threw this together very quickly for the photo.

I bought the green iron star on Etsy.

Now I need to do something about the cafe table and chairs. I bought them second hand ages ago and I don't really want to get rid of them. They're in good shape, just filthy and the chairs still come in handy. I know I said no seating on the porch, but once these are painted, they might look OK on the far end. Maybe we could sit out here for dinner sometimes. 

I'll need to spray paint them but I have no idea what color.

In case you forgot, here's how the dresser looked before (below). Now, the drawers hold small garden tools and other outdoor things.

Also, I'd like to design some kind of attractive outdoor shoe storage solution - mainly for snowy winter boots. I have an old wood crate that might serve. I'd just need to clean and paint it. If I use the leftover primer and white contrast paint, the cost will be $0.

Budget: I didn't track expenses very carefully, but this was not an expensive project. Here's what I had to buy, with cost, if I can remember. The single most expensive item was the black paint for the porch floor. I did spend quite a lot of time, mostly scrubbing the floor, but I really had a lot of fun doing this project. It was so satisfying to turn my embarrassing disaster of a porch into something presentable.

Masonry Patch
All Purpose Latex Primer
Roller Pads
1 Gallon Latex Masonry Paint (Sherwin-Williams Inkwell) ~$50
1 Sample Quart Latex for contrast stripe (Sherwin-Williams Snowbound)
1 Gallon Water-Based Urethane Masonry Sealer ~$30
Set of 8 Drawer Pulls $42 (Wayfair Hickory Drawer Pulls, which I think are close to what was on the dresser originally.)
Cast Iron "Earthquake Star" $23, from Eagle-Eye Finds Etsy Shop.
Wegman's "value" flower bouquet $4.00 (The vase is an old sap bucket that I had on hand.)
Wegman's pie pumpkin and squash - which we will eat
Wegman's mini tree $24
Still need - spray paint for the cafe table and chairs.

I used leftover primer from the floor for the dresser and paint that I already had on hand, Sherwin-Williams Copen Blue. Would I have used this color if I'd set out to buy new paint for the dresser? Probably not, but I'm satisfied and I can always paint it a different color in the future.

*Those are not affiliate links, BTW. I have not monetized this blog. It's really just a hobby.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Furnishing the porch

Except for one last coat of sealer, my porch floor is finished! The application of sealer isn't interesting enough to photograph and document, but I'll say it's an essential step. I considered not applying it, but in the short space of time between the final paint application to the day I added the first coat of sealer, a bit of the white stripe became stained from something rusty that dripped on it. (I don't even know what, there's nothing rusty looking above that spot.) It's in a corner where it's not very noticeable. Anyway, with two dogs and the general bustle that happens at the main entrance to any house, protecting this paint was a must. I used a water-based urethane product that's intended for painted masonry. I ordered it from Amazon because the paint store didn't have a product I liked and I'm not willing to drive all the way to the local Lowe's.

I had an epiphany about the porch furniture - that we really have no need for seating here. If the weather is nice, we sit on the brick patio. If it's raining, this porch isn't deep enough to provide perfect protection from getting wet. And we don't need the shade because the brick patio is already shaded by the trees and the house itself. Anyway, to me, a row of rocking chairs on a porch says "halfway house."

What we do need is a way to contain the clutter. We don't have a garage or a shed, so our porch is a natural dumping ground for gardening tools and other necessary but unsightly objects. We have an antique dresser, a hand-me-down from my sister-in-law who inherited a lot of furniture from her great aunt. We used it for years, but then relegated it to the basement because the drawers stuck so badly. So I put on my cricket-stomping boots and braved the basement to see if it hadn't crumbled to dust and to make sure no animals were living in the drawers.

The dresser was animal-free, although there was a cleverly constructed (abandoned) mouse nest in one drawer. It was quite an undertaking to get it out of the basement, since oak is heavy and Jon is on crutches.

Now I'm trying to decide what color to paint it. I'm hoping that one of the two leftover blue sample quarts I have will do. The lighter color on the left (above) is Copen Blue by Sherwin Williams. I rejected it as a color for my front hall, but I used it for shelf backing and for a cupboard in my kitchen. The darker blue is Raindrop, also by Sherwin Williams. If neither one works out, I can default to the "Snowbound" color I used for the stripe around the floor.

It will probably be a couple more weeks until I have a final reveal post. I have a few minor details to work out. The drawer pulls need to be replaced. They are extremely ugly and are stamped 1976, so I don't feel guilty about throwing them out. I really don't think the dresser itself was built in 1976. The weight of it, the tiny castors on the legs, the locks on the drawers, the curved front all strongly suggest it's from the early 1900s. Not that it's something valuable. It was probably made in a factory for middle class buyers, but it's definitely old. I also need to accessorize a bit more and I'm hoping to design something attractive for outdoor shoe storage.

The ugly 1970s drawer pulls