Category Archives: house

Living (too) large

You know how they say “travel is broadening?” Well, when it comes to the size of my ass, I’d definitely have to agree. Seriously, I’ve taken to referring to my hips as “croissant” and “pain au chocolat.” Whatever. I don’t regret eating a single slab of pâté or hunk of Camembert. It was vacation.

Now that I’m home, though, I’m actually feeling the need to downsize a bit. And I’m not just talking about the size of my hips. You see, one of the things that struck me during my travels was the simplicity of how Europeans live. Both apartments where we stayed, one modern and one in a more aged building, were built on a much small-scale than their American counterparts. Honestly, it made our American tendency to accumulate seem downright vulgar.

Let me give you a couple of examples…

The bedroom closets are really compact to accommodate much smaller wardrobes than those of the typical American. I’m talking maybe 2 ½ feet of hanging rod space and a handful of drawers. Coming home to my walk-in step-in closet and double-sided rolling clothing rack embarrassed me. Why do I have so much frigging clothing?

Both flats had lovely, updated kitchens. If these kitchens are any indication, Ikea seems to dominate the market and I am definitely going to consider going that route myself when I address my tired kitchen cabinets. Both kitchens were well laid out and contained more than adequate storage for the limited number of necessary items. That being said, neither kitchen had extraneous space, merely enough cupboards for cookware, dishes, glassware and some pantry items. Why do American kitchens require so much space?

One of the apartments we rented had 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a combined kitchen, dining and living room. The other had 2 bedrooms, a large loft sleeping area, kitchen and combined living/dining room. There was one bathroom. I don’t think either of these apartments exceeded 800 or 900 square feet. Why do new American homes need to be nearly three times that size? Who convinced us that we should aspire to maintain, heat and clean such large residences?

Time for me to minimize.


Filed under Europe, house, musings, Observations, travel, vacation

Where there’s a Will…


…there’s a way of seeing a situation from a different vantage point.  I’ve talked before about my friend, Will.  I’ve mentioned how he completely changed the flow of my home by suggesting I re-purpose 3 of the rooms, swapping the dining room, living room and office to become a family room, master bedroom and dining room.  He was 100% right and I am happier with my house than ever before.

This summer he helped me to locate the carpenter who refreshed my deck.  Not only did he find someone willing and interested in doing the work, but he basically GC’d the project for me.  I’m really not good at aesthetic details and Will was able to make the decisions which threatened to completely overwhelm me.  My deck now looks awesome.

On Sunday, when I was debating between the effort of driving to Saratoga to paddleboard on my own and the ease of driving to Niskayuna to hang out poolside at Will’s, we talked and he suggested that some alone time on the water might be precisely what I needed after a hectic week.  Once again, he was correct.

As I drove up the Northway, the tension in my body began to relax and I became aware of my breathing.  I melted into my car’s seat and loosened my grip on the steering wheel, setting the cruise control to monitor my speed, temporarily ridding myself of an element requiring constant surveillance.  By the time I parked my car and got on my board, I knew that, yet again, the right decision had been made.

Is there a person in your life who consistently provides you with a fresh way of looking at things?  I hope so.  Having some Will-power  can really improve one’s life.

Leave a comment

Filed under friends, house, ideas

Cleaning up


This is not MY list – nor my photo. Thanks, Meagan!

As a child, I remember spring cleaning as a time when the house was “lightened up” for the sunnier, warmer days which were heading our way.  The heavy drapes were taken down and replaced by sheer organza, the flannels were traded for crisp cotton and the house was generally made to feel less cozy and more open.

My own spring cleaning rituals are a bit less structured than those with which I grew up.  I wash and rehang the same curtains, sometimes even running an iron over them if I wasn’t lucky enough to pull them out of the drier fast enough.  I might roll up the area rug in the living room and stash it away for the summer months and sometimes I even make the effort to rotate my favorite photos around the house for a new perspective.  It’s pretty damn basic, is what I’m saying.

Here are my accomplishments from last week:

  • Wiped down the outside of the kitchen cabinets.  Well, just the base cabinets.  I never got around to the upper cabinets.
  • Cleaned the oven, which means push that button on the digital panel and be left wondering which will happen first – will the cleaning cycle be done and finally unlock itself or will the area surrounding the range explode into flames because it really is that hot.
  • Removed all the magnets and artwork from the front of the fridge and shined the stainless steel carefully returning nearly every item, but placing them in a different “spring” arrangement.
  • Took my skis and boots from the basement steps and actually put them on that shelf in the back of the basement.  Boots even got returned to that clear plastic garbage bag.  Ready for next year!
  • Placed Uggs in cloth bag and put them back in their box on a shelf in my closet.  Running shoes also all returned neatly to the shoe rack.
  • Hand washed and dried all stemware from hanging glass rack.  Actually, I did this task a couple of weeks ago, but I consider it to have been a slightly premature act of spring cleaning.  Assuming you define “spring cleaning” as something you do only once a year or so.
  • Raked my front yard twice and my backyard just about once.  Have yet to pick up the leave piles in the back but hope to take care of it tomorrow before it rains.

I can’t say I was the most productive person during spring break, but I did slightly more than nothing which puts me ahead of the game, right? What about you?  Did you clean up?


Filed under house, Spring

October recap – Moms@Work

I can’t believe another month has flown by!  Here’s some of what I’ve been up to over at the

First, there was the politics of pasta.

Then, I fell in love!

Alas, my ship sailed.

I put some pieces together.

And recognized that I couldn’t always do it myself.

But, I can drive a standard shift.  Lefthanded, too.

Which is a good thing because sometimes, I want to get away from my picky-eating children.

It wasn’t my knickers that got bunched up – it was my breasts which got squeezed!

Soccer season wrapped up leaving  lessons on the field that should last a lifetime.

We got more treats than tricks.


Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, beauty, Boys, cancer, Cooking, Events, family, holidays, house, Moms@Work, politics

Different seasons


According to any standard calendar, we have four seasons.  This is such a basic fact, that I won’t offend your intelligence by bothering to list them.  Suffice it to say that there are 4 and each lasts approximately 3 months. While the calendar neatly divides the year into these quarters based on 2 factors which are unarguable in our modern world: the tilt of our planet’s axis and its orbit around the sun, I’ve recently been noting a four other seasons not clearly identified on any calendar I’ve ever seen.  Let me share…

As I was slathering a piece of Irish soda bread with butter, I started thinking about eating seasonally.  Of course, being the bread whore aficionado that I am, I wasn’t thinking about produce, I was thinking about that wonderful vessel which enables one to consume butter – bread!  I don’t know about you, but for me, bread is most definitely an essential.  A staff of life, shall we say.  At Christmas my body craves the dense, moist fruitiness of panettone.  Soda bread season begins just as I have gotten past my post-holiday consumption guilt and gets me through until the sweet breads of Easter become available.  And then bruschetta season begins…

In my house there are linens seasons.  As a young child, I remember my mother, with much ironing and fanfare, changing the drapes twice a year.  I don’t really do curtains myself, preferring the clean lines of blinds, but I admit to rotating my sheets on the same sort of schedule.   Autumn and winter are all about soft, warm flannel while the warmer months call for crisp cotton bedding. Getting the transition timing right is an inexact science, but I do my best to make certain the season of my sheets synches with the temperature for maximum comfort.

Then there are the insects which seem to cycle through their own seasons in my house.  Right now I’m encountering ladybugs, which I am charmed by, especially since they are an improvement over the lice which occupied my child’s head recently.  Later in spring, I imagine the tiny little ants will try to infiltrate my home as they are inclined to do.  I’m not overly bothered by them.  As long as I can keep the moths and fleas out of my living space (and closet!), I’ll tolerate those little buggers if I have to.  I do wish, however, that I knew where they came from and why they find my living space so damn inviting – I swear, I’m a fairly tidy and clean person!  Bottom line, though, they don’t skeeve me the way other bugs like cockroaches or earwigs do and I can accept them as part of life.

My calendar would be incomplete without the inclusion of a season more emotionally based.  Although I often think of life as having distinct chapters, I believe that describing the various facets of a full life as “seasons” would be equally accurate.  Sometimes the seasons are clearly defined – single  life, newlywed, child-bearing, mothering, etc.  Other seasons are a bit more difficult to describe, like the place where I’m at right now.  The sweet consolation, though, is a realization that each season comes with aspects to appreciate.  That fact, along with the knowledge that one season will flow into the next, make each a time to be treasured rather than merely another page waiting to be turned.

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, Food, house, musings, Random, Uncategorized

Getting down with dirt and dust and dog hair…


Today’s Moms@Work post, Time to Clean.  Check it out here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Boys, family, house, Moms@Work

Soap scum and love for the Wine Bar!

image: Joe Keegan

Check out Joe Keegan’s blog over at the TU for some tips on cleaning glass shower doors and his impressions of the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark.  I had a blast taking care of his party and was tickled to be included in his post.  I’ve been reading his blog, which deals with the painstaking, but not annoyingly so, restoration of the home he shares with his family, for a couple of years and I’m always happy when he posts a new entry.

PS.  I’m not the soap scum of which he speaks.

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, drinking, Eating, favorites, Food, house, Lark Street, Recommendations, Restaurants, Wine