A Kitchen with a Different Stripe

Here's the wall when we moved in

This year we’ve been beginning a lot of projects around the house. The completion of the bedroom painting is nigh, and we’ve got a few pieces of furniture in the living room. While some projects have hit hiccups or delays, the kitchen has been moving rather quickly. And so we begin the craftier part of this blog.

Our kitchen doesn’t have much to it, but it’s got a bit of depth. The kitchen goes back, flanked by cabinets and appliances, to a dark purple wall that hangs in the dark under a low ceiling. It’s dark. We’ve been debating what exactly to do with it for quite some time, and finally settled on a novel idea (Kim’s idea, of course): stripes. But to spice it up, we did stripes of the same color instead of the usual dichromatic compliments. Well, almost. We decided to take one color we liked and make alternating stripes of glossy and matte paint. First we primed, and then we scratched our heads at how to make stripes.

I started by painting the heck out of the to-be-matte sections. A few coats of eggshell did the trick. But then, a conundrum. By the way – inexpensive laser levels do not do the trick. We tried that and ended up with slight slants down or faint angles up – and two pinholes in the wall. Not good.

Eventually, Kim cut out some card stock and we had measuring tools that helped keep the tape level. Once the tape was lined up for equal-width beauty we touched a bit more eggshell along the tape to lock in any seepage. It allowed for straighter lines on the finished product, which was wonderful. But before we could get to the finished product, it was glossy time.

Now, the kitchen ceiling is almost finished (it didn’t match the rest of the house’s ceiling, inexplicably), but the kitchen is looking pretty snazzy with this face lift already. Just the paint itself brightens the deeps of the kitchen a lot, not to mention we replaced the original lamp with a little bit of track lighting. The difference between the gloss and the eggshell is more stark than I imagined, but I think it was for the better. We’ve got a bit more to do before we declare the room finished or redone, but it’s definitely on the way there.


Around the House

In mid-March, Kim and I began to repaint our bedroom walls. Over Spring Break we smeared all of the walls with primer and swatched up a wall. Over the last month and a half, we haven’t done much other than pick one of the three colors that used to be on the wall, but in the past two weeks we’ve gone a little nuts with the remodeling.

First, we tossed the over-sized bed down stairs and set up a living room/bedroom combo, then began to put together our new bed frame and head board. We bought a new mattress online a while back, and it came rolled up in a box; we laid it out last week and have been letting it rise like a loaf of bread. In the mean time, we have been sleeping – and randomly napping throughout the days – on what we have dubbed “mega-bed.” Our large old bed is nestled up against our large old sofa, and we’ve been lounging whenever we’re not working on the house.

In addition to piecing together a Swedish piece of bed I’ve been rummaging through our second bedroom while Kim has been organizing our bathrooms. We’ve been making quite a bit of progress, and in the meantime we’re also redoing our dining table, which has turned our garage into a room filled with blackened chairs and a cloud of spray paint. Also, kudos to Kim for being the greatest at

reupholstering the chairs with the prettiest fabric ever. We’re going to be in this house for at least another year – if not a couple – so we figure we should get it ship-shape for living in. I suppose it’s high time considering we have lived here for about a year and a half, but that’s beside the point.

On Needing a Stress Ball

I’m stressed. I’m on approximately day fifteen of being incredibly lost. I thought the last half of Spring Break was a stressful fluke, but oh my goodness. I’ve been an insomniac while simultaneously being completely exhausted. I’ve been seeking shelter from my stresses all of the time. It’s been interesting.

And it’s not one aspect of life that’s stressing me out (like I thought). I’m falling behind or completely out of the game in virtually everything.

The bedroom that was being painted is still incredibly bare. The rooms that need to be cleaned have only been cleaned because of Kim. The groceries… oh, wait. I haven’t gone to the store in forever. My lesson plans continue to not come into fruition until the last minute. I had a terrible walkthrough in my class last week. I came within two seconds of doling out detentions and referrals on Monday. I have an observation on Friday. I apparently need to make and edit a video of myself teaching by Thursday – and we’re tomorrow so I don’t know when that will happen. I procrastinated the AEPA until it was too late and decided to wait until June, and now I’m pretty sure I screwed myself out of a substituting job.

But, when I think about it, things aren’t that much worse. I’ve been on an insanely high stress level for the passed ten months. At what point do I start making up for it all? Between moving to Uganda and planning a wedding, quitting my job and realizing I don’t know what I’ll be doing in two months, I haven’t been able to keep steady. I usually take this kind of thing in stride, but I think the last two weeks are throwing all that stress back at me. I need to find solace somewhere. So I’ll stay optimistic.

Today, I had a short afternoon snack with my wife at the kitchen table. I also chatted with my colleagues at lunch for a few minutes. One of my students and I had a candid conversation that was genuinely uplifting.

Last Thursday I wrote “I wish I could stop and smell the roses” on a piece of paper as a part of an art project. Supposedly that, and two other wishes, came true today.

WIPW: Bedroom Blues (on top of primer)

One of my many Spring Break objectives is to get started on redoing the bedroom.  Last week we bought our new furniture and some paint.  This week I’m trying to get as much done as possible while still working on lesson plans and getting other things done as well.  After painting on Saturday with Kim and then painting over rejected shades of blue on Monday, I worked a chunk of today to get painting.  Here’s a tiny glimpse of 1 1/3 buckets of primer on the wall.

Swatch wall!

Look at Cindy! Awww

Tonight Kim and I were able to encircle the room in primer.  I’ll be working on the ceiling for the time being, and hopefully slapping some more blue on the wall soon.  We’ll see how this progresses.  Check in next week and we’ll see how much I’ve been able to do!


It’s Christmas time in the Ross-Smith house!  Last week we got out all of the decorations in preparation for the big holiday season.  This week (and some of next) we’re wrapping up school work and we’re officially a month out from the BIG DAY, so it’ll be a busy month.  I’m taking a break from the first of four papers to toss up some pictures of our winter-themed house! I’ll be putting up quite a few posts soon, so take this as a preview of sorts.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

WIP Wednesday: Bedroom Blues

So, I’m hopping on the bandwagon.  Don’t know if I will keep it up, but this is my first Work in Progress Wednesday update.  Topic: the second bedroom.  Ever since we moved, it was the mess that loomed down the hall, and on Sunday I resolved that every day this week I would spend some time unpacking in there.  So, this is a half-way point for my progress with the room.  I didn’t get pictures of pre-Sunday, but I updated each night after organizing.  I don’t expect to get all of it unpacked in one week, but I hope to make quite a dent in it in these seven days.

Sunday, I started by unpacking my Invisible Children and IRIN media and taking out our yearbooks.  I put the bookcases together and unpacked quite a few boxes of books.  The room, after day one of resolved unpacking, looked thus:

WIPW Room1

Monday was a short day for me.  I put up all of my collection books (like LIFE photo books and such) and my World War II books.  One little thing about my WWII books.  For probably the past 6 years or so, I have set little toy army men all over the shelf that has these books.  Green versus Brown.  So, I got distracted and spent the rest of my clean-up time setting the field.

WPIP Room2

Yesterday’s unpacking actually seemed a little bit more productive.  I emptied all of my books onto the bookcases and even got rid of some extra stuff.  With some floorspace opened up, I moved some things around to make it more roomy.

WIPW Room 3

So, still a lot of work to do.  It truly is a work in progress, but – with a little hope and a lot of motivation – it will shape up by week’s end.  I have every intention of having a work-still-in-progress-but-my-resolution-was-successful post on Saturday or Sunday.  The boxes need to go.  The CDs need to be put away.  Christmas decorations need to be packed up.  Filing cabinet needs some sorting.  And that really does put a dent in the unpacking that we still have to do.  Here’s to the last half of this resolution and to my first work in progress!

’tis the Season

Christmas has come and passed.  Kim and I have gotten close to calling the first floor unpacked, and have had a couple of guests over to check the place out. Still have some boxes down here to sort through, and a room full of boxes upstairs.  But, in the spirit of secular gift-giving, we spruced up the place a little bit and put up a pretty (fake) tree.

Our holiday tree, with a few of the gifts for giving

We had a work party in the middle of the month, but I was forced to miss the family parties.  After not getting sick for probably a year and a half, I got a cold on Christmas Eve Eve and it has carried through to now. Yesterday I felt well enough to at least be in people’s company and got to see Kim’s family for Christmas Part II and a few of my family members for dinner at my aunt’s restaurant.  Hopefully I’ll be rearing to go with another night’s rest and can get through work just fine.

This week, Kim and I will be looking at some venues for the wedding.  We are still in the far off beginning stages, but need to at least figure out the basics (i.e. venue and date) since we’ll have some out-of-towners and the holiday-season.  Hopefully we’ll fall in love with an inexpensive, easy-to-work-with venue that’s willing to be lax on house rules.  We’ll see! I’ll update after the first few visits.

The Big Move

Recent weeks have been consumed by the big move.  The last days of November consisted of disorganized packing (throwing whatever was left into boxes and bags) and the first days of December have consisted of organized unpacking (the kitchen has been the easiest).  We have functioning rooms and are well on our way to sprucing up, but there are still some boxes.

The brightest star of unpacking was probably my day two auto faux pas.  We had finally cleared the garage of the excess entertainment center and desk.  I excitably pulled Mariah in and parked all nice and pretty.  Made the last minute decision to move slightly to the right to make room for laundry.  A few seconds later my passenger side mirror was flying across the garage.  Since then a hefty amount of tape has patched it up rather nicely, and its held against freeway driving and a couple windy days.

Other than my mishap, the move has been relatively pleasant.  It’s an uncomfortable but very exciting thought when we find a minor problem but cannot call it in since we own the place.  Far more good than bad, definitely.  Hopefully the boxes will unpack themselves while we go through finals and come mid-December we will be ready to have visitors and I can put up a few pictures.

In the mean time, enjoy the taped mirror:

Talking Townhome

On Monday (October 19th), Kim and I signed a number of sheets. We are, officially or unofficially I can’t really figure, homeowners. It’s been in the works for quite a while, and it’s been an option for even longer. I’ll hopefully be dropping off a check this weekend, and we should be getting keys then or soon after. Now, it’s time to get moving.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve occasionally boxed a few things. But it’s time to step it up! The plethora of DVDs and a whole mass of my books have been boxed up. But that’s a far cry from all that we own (mostly my junk). We bought the place a little bit earlier than the end of our lease – trying to reach out to the federal government’s cash-back award for first-time home buyers before the deadline – so we have a bit of wiggle room as far as moving. But with school and work and at least a little bit of sanity, it will be important to get everything over there.

I don’t think either of us have really felt like we have made a big decision yet. It hasn’t sunk in. We have some paperwork to show for it, but we haven’t moved. Even once we move, it will probably feel like another place to rent. So we’re devising a plan of what to do to make it our own. Whether it’s change the locks or paint the kitchen or install a shelf, I think we’re going to definitively own this place by the end of the move.

If all goes well, I’ll put together some sort of photo gallery/video tour of the new place. :)

Terms of Engagement (and moving)

It has been 355 days since Kimberly and I moved in together and got engaged to be married.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in this tiny apartment for almost a full year already, it seems like only a little while ago we were unloading boxes of belongings and hauling them across the courtyard.  But we’ve gotten quite a bit used to the space – definitely filled it all in – and are ready to move on to bigger things.

On the flip side, I feel like we’ve been engaged forever. Maybe it’s because we have been. I knew I wanted to marry Kim long before October 24th, 2008, so maybe it’s just the mindset that makes me feel like it’s been so long. 7 1/2 years of being a couple will do that, I suppose. As far as the official engagement goes, though, it’s been an amazing year and I think we are ready to move on to bigger things in that respect as well.

The past year has been a busy one and a relaxed one, a fun and a stressful one, a happy and tense one. But it’s always been perfect. I have loved the year that I have spent in this tiny apartment with my wonderful fiancee, no doubt about it. But it’s almost time to move on.  Pretty soon, we will start moving things out of the vacant town home and moving our things into it. By the end of November we’ll be completely moved! I’m excited, because it will be the biggest step since our move-out-of-our-houses-and-get-engaged stage. We’ll be in the oh-my-goodness-we-are-engaged-and-own-a-town-home stage and I am, albeit a little nervous, very excited. From there I think the next stage will most definitely be marriage which is, well, pretty big.

Home ownership is a pretty big deal, and the coming weeks will be pretty nutty. We’re getting the place for a steal, which is great right now because we’ll be saving a lot of money – which is what is making the whole purchase even possible – and in the future we’ll be able to get a lot more out of it than we put into it. Beyond that, though, Kim and I are going to own a place that we can call our own! We’ll have plenty of room to spread out and really make it ours (it’s three times bigger than our current living situation) and it’ll be nice to fill in the place as we like, not just with what we could scrounge like it was with the apartment. It’ll be a nice move, I think, and I can’t wait to start moving.

In addition to going from engaged to engaged home-owners, we’re getting closer to closer to approximated wedding time. I know we’re far away, but I hope we can start getting some concrete ideas together. I’m definitely going to raid Kim’s wedding binder and magazines. Maybe we’ll get a better idea of something like a place or colors. I think everything will come together as we go :)