Saturday, December 31, 2011

Shut the front door!

We celebrated the holidays with Chris' parents the weekend before Christmas (more on that later).  The Saturday they were here was a busy one.  See what was happening at Casa Gibson??  Brr...

We've needed a new front door for a very long time.  The door itself was in decent shape, but the trim around the door was rotting.  I should have taken a macro picture of it so you could really see.  Chris is pretty handy, but decided that installing a front door was beyond even his skill level.  So we asked our realtor to recommend a good carpenter and Fran came through.

Inside of the house with the OLD door...

 and with the NEW door!

Outside of the house with the OLD door and rotting trim...

And the NEW door!  Doesn't it look sharp?  We haven't decided on a color yet and won't worry about it until spring; it's primed so it's weather resistant.  And it's just too cold to paint right now.  We actually kind of like the white...what do you think?

We decided to skip the storm door this time.  I'm glad we did.  I think it looks nicer and I have to say, it's REALLY nice not to have a door smack me in the hip whenever I'm unlocking the front door!

We totally love the look of the new front door.  Plus, Chris made a new Porsche friend!  The carpenter, Mike, is actually quite the Porsche enthusiast and had done lots of work on his.  Now maybe with Mike's help Chris can tackle that engine drop this winter... :)

So warm and cozy.

Our house was built in 1890.  Needless to say, our home is not well insulated.  In the winter it gets COLD.  We don't have a fireplace to add extra warmth and the furnace runs on heating oil ($$$), so we keep the temp around 65.  It's super drafty and very rarely feels warm.

The past few years we used a kerosene heater to heat the living room.  Have you seen a kerosene heater?  They are ugly and smelly and meant for garages.  Or when the power goes out.  Not for heating a living area day in and day out.

So a few months ago we ordered a Harman pellet stove (click on the link to see them, Dad).  The savings we'll get in oil means the stove will essentially have paid for itself within a year or two.  Plus, Chris saved us about $650 by building the hearth himself.

We only had two corners in the living room that worked for stove placement and the corner to the left of the TV won.

We picked out a box of 12x12" tiles that we liked.  Chris cut a large piece of plywood to fit the space, then cut the tiles as needed to fit on top.


Then finally came installation day!  The pellet stove was installed on December 14 and I have been completely smitten with it ever since.  Doesn't it look warm??  It's amazing!  Which means the 2nd floor is pretty cold, but I've got an electric blanket for that.  :)

This week Chris added trim to the edge of the plywood and the hearth is officially complete.  As soon as the Christmas tree gets taken down (it's on the opposite side of the room) we'll move all the furniture so we can pull the rug away from the hearth. 

The stove is awesome.  It takes a bag or a bag and a half of pellets each day, and will automatically turn off and on as needed to keep the room at a consistent temperature.  I love it!

Happy Thanksgiving

So...this post is a bit belated.  As in, over a month after the fact.  Since today is New Year's Eve!  But still, there is lots to recount about Thanksgiving 2011 so I better get it done before I forget.  :)

One of the more initially entertaining, but quickly turned annoying, incidents this autumn was Bailey discovering our pear tree in the backyard.  Took him four years at the house to realize there was fruit lying on the ground, just there for the taking.  (We actually thought it was a crabapple tree for years until Chris' mom pointed out they were pears.)

Once Bailey realized they were out there, nothing could stop him from eating them.  If we'd take them away, he'd just eat them secretly on the side deck before coming back to the glass door.  Or he'd quietly bring them in the house and we'd find pear stems on the rug a bit later.  Thankfully, winter is finally here and all the pears are gone.  But it was pretty funny while it lasted!

On Thanksgiving day, we decided to head into the city to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade again, just like we did in 2009.  Our front row spot for watching the parade was amazing two years ago, so we we drove in with realistic expectations that the view would not be as great.  And it wasn't, but we still had a good time.  We watched from the far side of Columbus Circle.  Our view looked a little like this:

There's a mall at Columbus Circle, and the view from inside (this was on the 2nd or 3rd floor) was actually pretty good too.  And as an added was warm.  :)

Back in CT we enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with our friends, Paul and Elizabeth, and Elizabeth's parents.  Elizabeth and her mom are gluten-free, which I found fairly stressful at first since I was supposed to bring dessert.  But I made Ina's pear-apple-cranberry crisp in individual ramekins, and just used gluten-free flour to make the crisp for theirs.  And it was delicious!!  I hope the gluten-free ones were too.  I am a big fan of gluten and ate the ones with regular flour.

To end the long Thanksgiving weekend, Chris tackled a big project in the backyard.  The shed that he reroofed this spring/summer had a huge window in the back of it.  Not sure why you'd need a window in a shed, but there are many things about this house still a mystery to us.  A few of the panes were broken which allowed leaves, animals, dust, rain, etc. to get into the shed.  Chris took out the whole window and replaced it with plywood and siding.  Much better!

The next day, he left for Taiwan.  Nothing like a 20 hour plane ride for sore muscles, right?  Here are some pics from his fancy hotel.  He can't blog about it himself because he is down in the basement tinkering with the Porsche.  Seriously, what did he do in his spare time before he bought this car??  :)

It took Chris awhile to figure out that he had to insert his key card to adjust the lights in the room.

View from his room.  He said he saw so many almost accidents on the street below.  Apparently there are no stop signs at intersections in Taiwan!