Welcome back to me and to you

Hello Friends,

Having a wonderful 2013 so far?  Make any resolutions?  I like to call them goals.  It’s always good to have goals.  One of mine is to blog more.  So here we go.  And I know you are thinking, why is she just now talking about the New Year?  That happened like two weeks ago.  Well, Dr. Jay and the Little Miss and I just got back from a trip to the west coast (in fact, we’re not even home YET) and I haven’t really felt like I’ve shifted into my new year yet.  But I’m definitely done with 2012.  I’m kind of in-between right now.  Talk to me on Monday.  Hopefully I’ll be back on my feet by then.  See, we left Tennessee in a whirlwind on the 2nd for a trip to San Diego and Los Angeles (Dr. Jay had a conference and Little Miss and I tagged along and we left Mark to have fun with his various grandparents for several days).  Fresh from California, Dr. Jay and I want to juice everything, take more hikes and learn to surf.  It was a great trip. I’ll share some photos below.  But before we could leave, we had to get the downstairs ready for the floors to be refinished.  And some new hardwoods to be laid where there was carpet.  So this required some fancy footwork moving all the furniture out of the downstairs.  And Dr. Jay was working on re-mudding some walls that formerly had wallpaper on them and he wanted to complete all this before the floor work since it’s a messy job.  I wish I had photos for you.  We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  And we broke a pane in Mark’s window trying to hang some curtains.  Ughh.  It was one of those things that happens when you really don’t have time to deal with it.  But we managed to leave on time for our trip and without too much panic.  Yes, we left our house in the hands of a contractor.  I did remember to call my neighbor and let her know that we would be gone and that there would be trucks parked in front of our house for the floor work.  Other than that, we gave him free reign to work his magic while we were gone.  I am very very excited to see the floors tomorrow.  The house has red oak floors and the planks are about 2 inches wide and it used to have that sort of golden stain on it.  We had all the floors refinished to a stain called Early American.  We wanted them to be a medium brown with no red tones.  Anyway, leaving town was probably a great idea for us as a family.  It would have been too difficult to be there while this process was taking place.  BUT on the otherhand, it was hard for me as a designer to hand over the job to someone else and not be around to offer my suggestions.  We talked on the phone a few times (I really LOVE our contractor.  He is a perfectionist and I know he worked hard for us to be pleased with the job) but it was tough to not be around to say “Hold up, wait a minute”.  I actually had a dream the other night about the project going awry.  We came back to a scene of about 15 people roaming around doing some sort of tiling and I was confused because there wasn’t supposed to be any tile and I didn’t think so many people would be at our house.  The person running the job was actually a woman and she said “Honey, I gotta do what I gotta do.”  And then we had these crazy concrete statues (What?!) and I saw my contractor putting paint primer on them.  That’s when I lost it.  I screamed “Nothing vertical!   You aren’t supposed to touch anything vertical!”  Nice response, Rachel.  I don’t think it will be anything like that tomorrow when we see the floors, for the record.  But I thought that dream was so vivid I had to write it down.
I know I owe you a post on Sawyer’s room, and believe me, I have some decent photos of it.  BUT they are not with me at the moment so I thought I would update you with the state of the home renovations.  Basically, our plan for this year is to refinish the floors and add hardwood where there was carpet (check!), renovate the kitchen (sort of on-going), and remove wallpaper and paint a lot of the house.  Those are really the main goals for the house, along with just getting it in order and set up to host family and friends.  We’re actually pretty far along with the wallpaper removal.  We only have a super annoying/stuck on with super glue border in one of the rooms downstairs and the wallpaper in the bathroom upstairs to go as far as removal.  The other walls are being prepped for paint (which is a long process, especially when you leave town in the middle of it) and I’m currently choosing paint for these rooms.  That should be another post.  I have a lot of plans.
As far as the kitchen, we +hope+ to start that project by February.  We think we will use the same contractor (again, another post should be devoted to choosing a contractor) and we’ve already started in on buying some of the appliances.  We bought the dishwasher months ago when we bought the washer and dryer from Sears and it made sense to bundle appliances for more savings.  I bought the sink and faucet through my uncle who has connections in plumbing sales.  I cannot WAIT to use this sink and faucet- they are killer.  And we just scored the refrigerator on Craigslist a few weeks ago.  That’s a long story as well, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.  We got a fabulous fridge for under $1000, a little more if you add in the delivery fee but it was well worth it.  I’ll share more photos as there is more progress to share.  Tomorrow I will definitely have floor photos to share.  I cannot wait.  For now, here’s a taste of what we saw in southern California.  The architecture on this trip blew me away.  And the TERRAIN!  I had no idea southern California had so many cool landforms, and so many houses and buildings built right into it.  Incredible.  AND we saw Frank Gehry’s house.  I’m telling you, it was a blast.
ImageSalk Institute: La Jolla, California
By Louis Kahn
A building on the campus of University of California, San Diego.
UCSD blew us away.
ImageThe Library at UCSD.  Where you can read a book about astronauts in a building that looks like a spaceship.
ImageThis is the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD.  It is amazing.
Frank Gehry’s house in Santa Monica.  This may have been my favorite part of the trip.  Please tell me he still lives there.  He and his wife started building this house, which is actually exterior to the original Dutch Colonial house, in the late ’70s.  It looks like he just keeps adding to it.  It is a joy to see.
ImageI love this fence behind Gehry’s house.  I am totally gaga for the reveals in it.  Dr. Jay thinks I am such a weirdo.
Be back with floors and Sawyer’s room and so much more.  2013 is going to be a great year.

>Local beauty


I had to follow up my last post’s criticism of local architecture with something more positive from the design files.  When walking through a nearby neighborhood a few weeks ago, I spotted this fence.


Among the many hum-drum front fences of these townhouses, the horizontal wood planks are a welcome sight.  It all looks very well-crafted.


Do you love that rolling gate?


I bet that is fun to come home to.  My in-laws built and installed a similar door in their house.  Good times.  Noodle salad.  (Can you tell me what that’s from?)

I commend you, neighbor!   Job well done on that curb appeal!

>Airport Style


So last week I wrote about Hollin Hills, a neighborhood nearby, and mentioned that it was laid out in the early 60s by an architect named Charles Goodman.  I also wrote that Goodman was the original architect of National Airport (now known as Reagan National Airport).  Well, that’s not entirely true (I need to remember that Wikipedia isn’t always a reliable source of information), though he was part of the original team of designers.  See, after I wrote the post, bells started going off in Dr. Jay’s head.  On a trip through Reagan (the airport) a few months ago he happened to pass by what looked like a lobby preserved in time in Terminal A.  He’s been saying we should go check it out ever since, so on Sunday we finally did.  After an hour and $2 to park in the short-term parking garage, we’d learned all about the history of the airport.  It sits on land which used to be Abingdon Plantation, owned originally by Captain John Alexander.  Abingdon was purchased in 1778 by John Parke Custis, the adopted stepson of President George Washington, and was the birthplace of Washington’s beloved granddaughter, Eleanor “Nelly” Parke Custis.  Ruins from the original house (which was destroyed by fire in 1930) still remain on the grounds, and artifacts are preserved in Historic Terminal A.

Visiting Historic Terminal A is also a great way to see the first airport building’s unique style, which was definitely a blend of the classical architecture President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested as a way to pay tribute to the rest of Washington’s architecture and of the emerging modern aesthetic demanded of the technologies present in an airport facility.  Here’s some of what we saw:


Pshhhha- we went in anyway.  There was no function.


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Here’s a final photo of the more recently designed Cesar Pelli addition to the airport.


If you’re ever in Reagan and near Terminal A, stop in and check it out the Historic Lobby.  It seems as if they will be further restoring it to its original early-American airport style.  Don’t miss your flight or anything, but it’s worth a looksy if you’re stuck at the airport for some time.

>Go West


I received J.Crew’s August catalog last week.  Gold star for me for not ordering anything, even though I have a both a gift card and a credit to my good name.  Actually, it’s pretty easy to avoid buying pretty clothes when you’re many many #s above your normal weight, but I like to give myself a pat on the back whenever possible.

So, why am I talking about J.Crew?  Cause I love that each new season brings a different location for their catalog shoot.  This month’s catalog was shot at Lake Powell in Arizona, and gosh is that some amazingly breathtaking landscape.  The rock formations have such an incredible architectural quality, I couldn’t resist writing about them on the Babble.  I’ve been wanting to take a trip out West for some time now:  hike the Grand Canyon, see Lake Mead, do some crazy whitewater rafting, take Ansel Adams-esque photographs.  You know, the usual.



Jcrew3 (All images courtesy of the J.Crew August catalog)

I’m also coveting this bag, in case you’re interested.