29 August 2007

Paint Hell

Have you ever painted something only to find out that you chose the WRONG color? I don't mean choosing red over blue, or some such thing, but the WRONG shade.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm painting the inside of our house (while our son paints the outside). For weeks, I agonized over sample after sample of yellow paint for our kitchen. We're on a tight budget, so I opted for the cheapest form of Wal-Mart paint, even after a friend cautioned me against it. But it wasn't only the paint that didn't go on well (after three coats, it STILL looked splotchy) it was the lousy color. I was going for a creamy, buttery yellow, but instead I got a sort of dingy, yellowish light green. Not a bad color, I suppose, but DEFINITELY not the look I was going for. It clashed with everything. Ugh.

So off I went that night to buy MORE paint, BETTER paint, not to mention, a different shade of yellow. I spent the entire day yesterday re-painting around the kitchen cabinets, behind the refrigerator, etc. Today, I can't wait to put my kitchen back together!

But wow, the weather sure has been cooperative. I mean, in truth, I'd rather have been out in the sunshine, but as I was working, I enjoyed the summer breeze wafting in and out of the windows (taking the paint fumes out as it went!)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

26 August 2007

An Argument for Air Conditioning in Maine

When we first came to Maine many years ago, we had lived in a variety of places all around the country - California, Rhode Island, Colorado, Virginia and Florida, just to name a few. We didn't have air conditioning in our homes in every one of these places, but in most of them, we did (I'll let you figure out in which places it was an absolute necessity).

Although we knew Maine had hard winters, we all had spent enough time on the East Coast to know about how hot and humid the summers can be, even near the coast. I was a bit taken aback to find that only a handful of homes in Maine had central A/C, and not many others made use of window units. I might ought to add here that I've always done well in cold weather but I quickly wilt in temperatures above 85. My husband, as fate would have it, is quite the opposite.

We moved into our home in late September, so the first few months were all about heating the house, rather than cooling it. But that next summer was a doozy. We had temperatures in the upper 90s for much of July and August, and humidity levels were off the charts. Please understand, though, that pretty much anything above 50% humidity (or a 60 degree dewpoint) is off the charts in MY book.

For several years, as I grew to know and love the state of Maine, I treasured the color of fall, I adored the coziness of winter, and I welcomed the fresh color of spring. Yet I dreaded summer. While tourists from near and far flocked to Maine each summer, I was holed up in our basement, trying to stay cool, or swimming at the nearest pond or beach. I also became an expert on how to visit local air conditioned establishments while spending the least amount of money. It was freakish, I tell you. I became obsessed with NOT being hot. Understand too that while I'd love to spend all my time in water or in the basement, those options are not a reality in my life. There ARE other things that need to be done!

Why we didn't invest in an air conditioning unit is a mystery to me. I'm not even sure we talked about it. Maybe it just seemed so extravagant. After all, we did have a basement which was cool, and summers were so short...

Alas, two years ago, during a particularly hot stretch, I dragged my husband to the nearest Home Depot and we invested in two small window units: one for our living room/kitchen area, and one for our bedroom. With the strategic use of fans, these two small units will cool our entire home.

I can't tell you what a huge turning point this was in my life. I enjoyed that summer as I've enjoyed no other since coming to Maine. In truth, we only used the air conditioners maybe 2 or 3 times that first summer, but it made those few hot days much more bearable. I was afraid our electric bill would skyrocket, but it didn't. It cost us maybe $10 - $15/month more to cool our home on the very hot days. To me, it's been well worth it.

This summer, as we near the end of August, I've counted: we have used our air conditioners for a total of 7 days this summer. A couple of the days really weren't even that hot, but they were humid enough that we just wanted to dry things out a bit.

Now I love summer, I can't wait for summer, and I never want it to end. Over the past few weeks as I've been painting the inside of the house, I've had the windows open and have enjoyed the cool, pleasant weather. Yet yesterday and today have been a bit uncomfortable, especially for climbing around on ladders, painting. Our little A/C units have kept me more productive and my husband would say they've kept me sane. :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

23 August 2007

Buried in Projects

My good friend, Kristen, who moved to Texas earlier this summer, phoned and asked why this blog has been so neglected. I've been scarce because I've been madly finishing up on summer projects before school starts the first week in September. Once the homeschooling year begins, I can kiss those projects good-bye. We've been painting, cleaning, painting, purging, painting, working in the yard, oh, and did I mention, PAINTING?

About six years ago I embarked on a mission to paint all the trim and doors in our house. The house was built with white walls and dark brown trim. When we moved in, it was several years old, but still had only white walls and dark brown trim. I like wall color, and dark brown trim only looks good with a small list of pale colors. So, room by room, year by year, I've been painting the trim white.

I began with a bathroom, just to make sure I could do it and it wouldn't look idiotic. I'm not one for sanding and such, so I found a heavy duty primer that I simply slap on (two coats) over the trim, shiny finish and all. After two coats of primer, two coats of white paint finish the job. I then painted the bathroom walls a bright periwinkle blue, and after that, I was hooked.

Over the years I've done both bathrooms, a couple of bedrooms, the living room, and now I'm tackling the kitchen and hallway. Can I tell you, I am SO sick of painting. But now that the kitchen trim is done, I have to paint the walls... and of course, once the walls are done, the cabinets just won't look right and will probably need paint as well. Yet, that will have to wait for next summer.

Of course, glutton-for-punishment that I am, I've decided to take on yet one more painting project just as school starts. My son is moving into the dorm in two weeks and my mom is coming to visit in six weeks. That gives me a whopping four weeks to clean out and disassemble his room (a daunting task, I assure you) and then paint the trim and the walls. Before Mom arrives. And start a new school year with two teens.

If I survive the next six weeks, I'll be sure to post pictures of the finished product.

That is, if the paint fumes don't get me first.

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

07 August 2007

A Ray of Hope Regarding Winter

Buy at Art.comYesterday was a chilly, rainy day here in Maine. We had scattered thunderstorms and showers that left puddles standing in the yard and on the roadways. Thankfully, my middle daughter and I had a rare day alone at home and we agreed that it was the perfect day to just hunker down and watch the weather from inside the house.

Also, noting that the mid-day outdoor temperature was well below 70 degrees fahrenheit, we agreed that it was the perfect day to do a little baking. We made a pot of chili for dinner and baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies from scratch (ok, it was the recipe on the back of the bag of chocolate chips, but in my book, that certainly counts!)

As the dreary day passed slowly and lazily, I was surprised to find myself enjoying it immensely. In fact, I even said outloud (before I could bite my tongue) that I thought I'd be ready and even excited about winter when it arrives. It was one of those, "Wait a minute, who said that?" moments. But there you go.

Maybe that's why we need the four seasons so much. We need the sunshine of summer so we can plant and vacation and enjoy being warm. We need the color and coolness of autumn so we can ease slowly into winter, do all the things we didn't finish over the summer, and marvel at the beauty of creation. We need the somewhat hibernatory feel of wintertime with its lack of color and cold so we can do indoor work, enjoy recreation in the snow, cozy up with our loved ones, and of course, to kill off the black flies and mosquitoes (ok, that doesn't really happen, but I can hope...). Lastly, we need spring for the color, the new life, and the promise of yet another warm summer.

Having lived in many areas of the country, I've found that Maine has just about the perfect four seasons. Each season is just long enough to prepare us for the next one; and by the time it arrives, we are ready.

Tomorrow, more rain is forecasted and I'm sure we'll do some more baking. It will be a bit of a fall preview.

But what the heck - I'm going to the beach again later this week. I mean, no need to rush things! :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes

01 August 2007

Morning Views around our Garden

I'm trying to take long, deep breaths and have a relaxed mindset - - in spite of the fact that August is here. That means one more month until Labor Day Weekend, which translates to mean, one more month of tourist season, one more month of going to the beach, one more month of the flowers looking really great, and one more month until school starts.

It also means only two more months until Halloween and the first freeze.

WAIT! No - I didn't mean to go there.

Here is the morning view around our garden - TODAY - on the first of August, while summer is still very much here...


The hydrangea is in full bloom...


The roma tomatoes are on the brink of turning red...


The green pepper is just about ready...


And a few days ago, we discovered this little guy hanging around the back of the house near the water hose (that my son often leaves dripping - argh). Anyway, he's cute - the frog, I mean. Yeah, my son is, too. :)


Have a great day, friends!

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes