Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Curl Up With a Book

A Scattered LifeA Scattered Life by Karen McQuestion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fun read! I have been reading some heavy books and my book club has had a run of less-than-thrilling tomes, but this one was a winner. I will warn readers that it is not all sweetness - life isn't always pretty. Still, there are some great characters here. The meddling mother-in-law, Audrey, is an absolute hoot.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Curl Up With a (Long) Book

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes, this is the current "it" book. Yes, it is an HBO series. Yes, it is long and filled with manly men and feats of valor and all that rot. I don't care. This was a fun read and I enjoyed almost all of it. Notice that I didn't give it a full 5 stars. Some of the gore and sex wasn't really necessary in my opinion and it truly didn't need to be that many pages. Even so, I will be going back for the rest of the series that is available and then waiting on edge for the rest of the books to be written and published. Call me a sheep if you want, but I won't care because I'll have my nose stuck in another 800-page book.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Curl Up With a Book

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing book! This was very far out of my range of what I know about. I have never lived in (or even visited) the South. I have never had hired help and have no experience with most of the situations in the book. Still, I am human and Ms. Stockett did a fabulous job of bringing out the humanity of her characters (or utter lack of humanity in at least one case). This was absolutly one of those books that I had trouble putting down and I have the dark rings under my eyes to prove it.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Curl Up With a Book

The Weird SistersThe Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This reminded me quite a bit of The Monsters of Templeton, by Lauren Goff. There was a similar going home and discovering yourself vibe, but this is no knock-off. The character development of the sisters was very good and the (very) frequent Shakespeare quotations weren't too annoying. As I finished I will admit that I was a bit disappointed. Somehow, I felt that the ending was rushed. Then again, I must give the author credit for staying absolutely true to her characters. A tidy ending wasn't really in the cards for these women, but I will admit that the ending was perfect for the book. I get completely annoyed with authors who end their books with events that just aren't true to the story or have the characters do things that are completely out of character. All in all, this was a very good read that kept me company through a long set of flights home and a recovery from a cold.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Week 4

We are already (finally) in Week 4! The family is getting quite tired of workers coming and going and not knowing where things are. Thankfully the next door neighbors have come through with necessities (like a corkscrew with our one unpacked version wasn't up to the job) and niceties (like home-cooked dinner). Day 22 was a busy one. Mr. Engineer and I left work early and took my Photoshop designs back to the tile store to pick our backsplash. The choices are overwhelming and we became hopelessly lost until the nice tile man helped guide us through the choices. When we arrived at home that night we were greeted with a pleasant surprise. The carpenter was there installing the newly arrived handles and fixing some of the things that needed attention.

Day 23 brought more surprises, but they weren't all pleasant. Young Man had come home the night before feeling unwell and he was much worse in the morning. I quickly informed my co-workers that I would be working from home and spent the day attempting to work. I say attempting, because Day 23 was the day the electrician installed a new electrical panel. Yes, the power was out for about half the day. Luckily we have good batteries on our laptops and the wireless modem has a battery backup! It was quite noisy and the last surprise was when we realized that the electrician had poked a hole through the master bedroom wall when he removed the old panel! That was not a room we intended to have worked on!

Day 24 came and Young Man was not better. He hid out in the master bedroom while the granite guys came and went to work. By the end of the day we had many square feet of Uba Tuba granite.

Photographing granite is a lesson in futility, but trust me when I say that it is quite lovely. It is mostly black with some ivory and gold throughout. It is dark like we wanted, but not completely black and is interesting without being gaudy.
The new sink is also very nice.
The week isn't quite over, but we aren't sure what more work will happen. The tile for the backsplash won't arrive until mid-Week 5 and we still need to pick up the new range hood (it is in but didn't make it onto the appliance delivery truck). There are several things that need to be fixed and touchups needed, but we are getting close. Very close.

We can't wait to move in!

Week 3

After the disappointing end to Week 2, we were very happy to see some good things in Week 3.
On Day 18 of the project, the carpenter returned with cabinets that were now the correct height. He and his assistant worked all afternoon and into the evening to install cabinets.
Lots of cabinets.
Lots and lots of cabinets!

On Day 19 we picked out granite for the countertops. On Day 20, we tried really hard to figure out our tile backsplash and on Day 21, I spent much of the day playing with Photoshop to design a backsplash. Day 21 also ended with another delivery. This time (most of) the appliances were here!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Week 2...

After the excitement of Week 1, things settled a bit. Oh, that was dust, wasn't it? Yes, Week 2 saw it's share of dust. The week started off very quietly. President's Day found me staying home to have an off-day with Young Man. We watched Gnomeo and Juliet and generally goofed off. I did order the cabinet handles, Amerock BP26204-G10 satin nickel finish. In the evening we made the final selection of floor tile, Tilecrest Fantasia in Almond.

Tuesday was a completely quiet day, but things started to get interesting again on Wednesday. That was the first day of The Great Tile Invasion.

I know, it doesn't look like much, but that was the progress for the first tile installation day. The goal was to get the kitchen done quickly to prepare for cabinets. Thursday, the tile seemed to grow.
In fact, by Friday, the tile had grown all the way through the family room and entry!
It even grew to take over the dining room!!!!

Yes, the spreading tile did what 20 years hadn't: it pushed out the disgusting green (formerly brown) carpet from the family room and entry and even took out some of the nasty stuff in the dining room. Only one little patch of disgusting carpet remains and its days are numbered!

All this growing tile made way for Saturday's event: it was cabinet day!!!!

Hmmm. Something doesn't look quite right. Can you guess? Well, when the carpenter made the cabinet design, he estimated the new ceiling height. When the final ceiling height wasn't as high as the estimate, the project manager neglected to pass on the new measurement. So on cabinet day, the carpenter showed up with full-height cabinets that were all three inches too tall! The carpenter took all those cabinets away and promised to return with proper-height cabinets in a few days.

Thus, Week 2 was filled with ups and downs and ended on a bit of a downer. We remained hopeful that Week 3 would be better.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pardon Our Dust?

Things have been a little crazy here at Chez Engineer. You see, the great procrastinators have finally taken a rather large plunge. We have lived in our little hovel for 20 1/2 years and we have done a number of home improvements, but we have been reluctant to tackle the really (REALLY) big jobs. Painting and such are no problem, but we both knew that we were not up to dealing with a kitchen remodel. Believe me when I say that we needed a new kitchen. You don't believe me? Well, I offer up Exhibit A. Go ahead, marvel at its 1968 loveliness.

One of our favorite parts of the kitchen (in this case "favorite" is used to refer to something akin to a thorn) is the original 1968 wall oven. When we moved in the temperature markings had long ago been worn away so we calibrated the oven with an oven thermometer and etched marks for our most-used settings. The top door also had a charming habit of coming off in your hands if you didn't open it just right. We had long fantasized about taking a sledge hammer to the thing. Well, on Valentine's Day, we paid people to do just that! This was the sight that greeted us when we returned home that day:

Yep, all that old hideousness was gone!!!! We even had them remove the ceiling and bring it up to the level of the old lighting soffit. In case you were wondering, those dark patches on the walls were the original blue board from when the house was built. No, it had never been painted behind the cabinets.

Once all that mess was gone, we moved to anticipation each night as we came home. On Day 2 we had a new ceiling and plumbing! the drain and supply for the sink was moved several inches over to center the sink to the window and the gas lines were given new valves. Oh, and the (probably illegal) gas line to the outdoors that we had previously capped outside was gone.

Day 3 brought even more fun as the rough-in electrical was installed. We needed to bring a new circuit from the panel for the new electric oven and many outlets had to be moved or reworked to follow code and to allow for wiring for the new under-cabinet lighting. Oh, yes, and the new recessed lighting cans were installed.

Day 4 was pretty boring as it was spent by our contractor twiddling his thumbs waiting for the city inspector. Apparently 3 p.m. is still a morning appointment. Day 5 was really exciting since all the rough-in work could be patched, taped, sanded, and textured. The drywall/paint guy was busy all day

The painter was back on Day 6 to prime and paint! Yes, there is color on them there walls!

So, in one week we went from nasty, depressing kitchen, to utter chaos, to painted walls! Not bad. Not bad at all. Stay tuned for Week #2!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beware the Tiger

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and SurvivalThe Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading this book. I will say that some of the descriptions of the victims were hard to read, but overall I was impressed with how restrained Vaillant was in these passages. It would have been easy to over-describe, but he maintained respect for the deceased. It was a little hard to follow the book as it skipped back and forth in time and around in geography. I know that some readers cannot stand books that do that and they will not like that in this book. This technique doesn't really bother me, but it was sort of distracting. Given the real paucity of data on the actual events, the need to fill out the book with the background was real and interspersing the background with the events kept me reading through all of the data. I'm sure I retained more of the background than I would have if there would have been an extensive background separate from the event descriptions. The background research was very thorough and made the book much more than a voyeuristic journey of gore. I knew that tigers were endangered and that man was the primary reason for that, but it was very interesting to see just how our economic journey impacts the tigers. All in all, a very worthwhile read!

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

19841984 by George Orwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this one for the first time years ago and I remember being fascinated by the idea of The Party and its stranglehold on its members and utter control of all in Oceania. This time around I read it because it was is the January book for my book club. Either the book isn't holding up or I have changed. I kept waiting for it to get to the point and was frustrated with Winston and Julia's affair and their blind trust in certain persons who all proved to be completely untrustworthy.

There are books that I enjoy re-reading, but this wasn't one of them. Perhaps it is because too much of the book has come to pass. My every keystroke can be monitored at work and there is no privacy online. There also seem to be those who would whip us into the mindless frenzy that The Party loved to create. Then again, I believe that one of Orwell's aims with 1984 was to make us uncomfortable with the parallel between his fictional world and the one we see out our windows. In that, this book still succeeds.

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Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy 2011!

New year, new times. Comments are back on. Play nice.