Category Archives: house

Worst mother, best neighbors

Now I need to get some new pillows!

Now I need to get some new pillows!

Last Monday, my oldest son and I took a walk with Jeter around the neighborhood. We were about a mile away from our house when we came across some curbside treasure – a leather couch in remarkably good condition. Hmmm.

I should tell you about our history with couches. In the last 20 years there have been at least 6, 3 of which were bought on Craigslist. You see, we (and by “we” I mean the male Lillys, Jeter included) destroy couches and I refuse to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars on a replacement, particularly in light of the fact that I spend very little time actually sitting on one. So….

Liam and I gave the couch a quick once over and decided it was worth my walking home to get the car. I left he and the dog and returned with my wagon within 15 minutes. That’s when the real fun started.

The couch is a small sectional in two pieces. The small piece and the cushions easily fit into the back of my car, but the larger part? It was not happening. At this point, I was committed to getting the couch and came up with my best option – drop the smaller section at home and pick up my middle son. We were going to have to carry the couch.

I wish someone I knew had been able to witness the ridiculousness of us carrying that piece of furniture approximately a mile. The laughter (mine alone), the bitching (Griffin owned that part), the cursing (all of us)…it was a classic moment in mothering which, I hope, will one day be passed down to future generations of Lillys as an example of how crazy I was.

We made it, with uncountable pauses along the way, to about a block from our house when I caved to the complaints and called my always helpful and strong neighbor, Emily, to literally lend a hand. As we hauled the couch down the street, two more neighbors came to our assistance – big, strong guys who completely saved our asses, not to mention backs, by muscling the couch up the stairs and into my living room.

I look forward to sitting on it soon.


Filed under Boys, DelSo, family, friends, house, Local, moms, Uncategorized

Lucky! In the right place at the right time walking on broken glass.

A couple of months ago when I was in NYC with the girls, I received a text message with a photo attached. While it was hot and humid in the city, Albany was getting pummeled by a storm complete with wind and intense rain. The picture perfectly captured the severity of the storm including the tree in my neighbor’s yard which, I’m convinced, will one day fall on my house.

My immediate response was panic – Oh, no! What can I do?! I quickly concluded: nothing. My next thought was “at least there isn’t anyone at home to get hurt and stuff is just stuff.” With that realization, I picked up my glass of rose and carried on with living.

This morning Jeter become possessed by a squirrel he spotted on the front porch. He ran from window to door to window before finally jumping up to slam himself against the door window, shattering it, of course, into a million pieces. Miraculously, unlike when I put my hand through a door’s glass window, Jeter came through completely unscathed.

I shooed him out and got to work cleaning up the larger shanks shards of glass by hand before busting out the vacuum to get the finer pieces. It took some time. During the day I got an estimate for the repair. I considered calling for help with the removal of the door (by the hinges) and lugging it down the steps to load into my car to bring to the glass shop. I didn’t. I figured out how to take the hinge pins out myself and carefully somehow got the door off and into my car.

Reflecting on the morning, I was appreciative that I had been home when Jeter finally went through the window. It was only a matter of time before it happened and it would have been awful if I hadn’t been there to clean up the glass.  He could have gotten hurt.  It could have been so much worse.

So many potential perils – wind and rain and broken glass and all I have is a splinter or two in my hands.  Lucky.

Leave a comment

Filed under DelSo, house, musings, NYC, Observations, Random, Uncategorized

The best intentions

While my focus these days is on looking forward, I want to take a moment to reflect upon my success in achieving some intentions I stated months ago when 10 weeks of summer loomed on the horizon. So, let’s see…how did I do?

Well, 4 of the items I didn’t even come close to. I don’t know where the time went, but I never got down to Nine-Pin, nor to a Soul Kitchen dinner. I do hope to feature Nine-Pin at Lark + Lily, though, and now that there’s been a schedule change and the boys are at my house Mondays, maybe we can all go to dinner together. Let’s call it a work in progress.

The Catskills day hike is still a possibility. I’m sure it will be lovely in the fall and I could probably redefine that slightly into a trail run with my iPhone, right? I didn’t have dinner at 15 Church, but I did have a lovely glass of wine paired with some tasty tuna tacos on their gorgeous patio. It’s a start. Another A for effort situation would be my attendance at the summer trail run series. I didn’t quite make it to half of them (5 of 14), but I did do a Monday evening group run, bringing me up nearly to my goal of 50%. I can live with that.

Paddle boarding, a small party on the deck and destination Hudson all were achieved. I’m working my way through The Sopranos and made it through season one of Girls, so I’m catching up with the rest of the universe culturally, I suppose. There was an excellent, albeit scorching hot, getaway with the girls to the city and I most definitely enjoyed this last summer of having all three of my children around. Success!

The backyard became my middle son’s opus and he did a remarkable job cutting down overgrown weeds and vines and filled bags and bags with the evidence of his labor. We now have a clean slate to work with – next summer. It s a similar situation inside my house in the spare room. I’ve eliminated some items and can now repurpose the room as a true guest room/office, but it really still lacks an identity or any style.

My biggest fail is the lack of effort on my part to help with a meal at the Ronald McDonald house. This is something I really want to participate in, but I just haven’t put any attention into it. Not to make excuses, but, my focus for the last 2 months was on an item which wasn’t even on my list – putting together a restaurant.  That’s getting closer every day.  I hope your intention is to come and enjoy a glass of wine and a bite to eat!

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, Boys, house, Local, musings, Observations, running, Summer, Uncategorized

Giving Sling a shot

imageThis summer I did something I’d been threatening to do for at least a year – I turned in my DVR and bought a Roku. For those of you who may be considering doing the same thing, let me share what I’ve learned.

  • Handing in the DVR box was completely painless. I went to the Time-Warner “store” at Colonie Center and it couldn’t have been any easier. There was no hard sell, no “speak to my manager” nonsense, just a simple and stress free transaction.
  • Our next stop was Sears where, for approximately $50, we bought a Roku 1. Our television is probably 10 years old and the first generation Roku was what we needed, there are other options for new televisions.
  • Once we got home, I conceded to my teenaged son and allowed him to set the Roku up, a process which took less than 10 minutes from in the box to on the screen. Since I kept Time Warner as my internet provider, all we had to do was register the Roku and connect.
  • As the summer progressed we unanimously Agreed that we missed one thing about having cable – the clock on the DVR box. No, seriously, that was the big loss to our family room – the clock! Other than an occasional jones for HGTV or Cartoon Network, we did fine with our Amazon Prime and Netflix Streaming offerings.
  • My bill went from $140 a month (a combined amount for DVR cable box and internet) to just over $50 per month. Of course, Amazon Prime is about $100 annually and Netflix is, I believe, $7 or $8 a month, but we already were paying for these services in addition to Time Warner.
  • The U.S. Open has dominated my Labor Day weekends for a good number of years and I was kind of missing the chance to watch it on television. I did some super quick research and it turns out that Sling has a package of channels (including 3 ESPN choices, HGTV, Cartoon network and A & E) for $20 a month. That seemed worthwhile to me and I signed up for a 7-day free trial. I imagine we’ll continue the service.

How about you?  Are you still connected to cable?  How much are you paying a month for television programming?

Leave a comment

Filed under house, ideas, television

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