Friday, April 27, 2007

Home Tour 2007!

Some of you may know that we are on the Minneapolis/St Paul Home Tour, which is this weekend. This has been, oh, just a little stressful getting ready. The remodeling project is literally finishing today- there is still some painting left to do, and putting on a few cabinets. A bit of trim left to go on. The sink in the powder room was just hooked up this morning. And it also means we are finally unpacking, and the house starts to look like it belongs to us instead of some people camping out while re-modeling!

So I thought I'd post some photographs of some of my favorite parts of the house...

This is perhaps what I am most proud of in the house, personally (meaning I did it, not you know professional remodeling types / designers. It's a "living wall," made by ELT Easy Green, and is essentially a garden in vertical space. Nifty, huh? It's in our dining room and I decided it would be nice to put all my botanical-type prints around it, on that corner. Including a Silene latifolia botanical drawing (from Ingrid, Thanks, Ingrid!) and a Geranium maculatum watercolor (from Erica, for my PhD graduation, Thanks, Erica!).

From the kitchen, we have this close-up of the tile work, that covers the whole area behind the stove and beyond. Then there is a photo of the cabinets with the awesome paint job (and a bit of the dishwasher on the left). Cool, huh?

This floor lamp is made by Fire & Water in NYC, and is made of recycled copper and brass. Also by Fire & Water is the hanging lamp above our dining room table. That one is also made of recycled materials, and bamboo.

Our dining room table is made of recycled copper, which is hammered and subjected to a number of heatings, to create the patina that is original to each piece made. We love it! Under the dining room table are carpet tiles by Flor, a really great company which makes modular carpet - very modern aesthetic and "design-it-yourself" and this means that there is little waste, they use recycled and recyclable materials, and have low VOC (volatile organic compounds). The company itself is striving to be ever more green in its practices.

And now we turn to the bathroom.
Just last night I took a nice long bath in my gorgeous bath tub, with candles and bubble bath and dimmed lighting and all. Is there any other heaven on earth? I don't think so!

Someone or other requested that we show a photo of the completed vanity, made of hickory and remnant marble. So here's that, AND the photo of the cabinet that Michael designed to hold the compressor washer/dryer and various drying racks and a folding surface for Eric (who does all the laundry in our house). Snazzy, huh?!

A final touch in the bathroom which is lovely is the eco-resin window between the tub and the shower, to which I have added little glasses of living grass.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Catching up...

We've been very bad bloggers of late. Our apologies to regular readers of the Menagerie. Lest we continue to fall behind, then feel bad about the falling behind, and feel overwhelmed that we're so behind that we can't possibly catch up, I've decided to put up a few, short, slapdash paragraphs on what we've been up to for the past month or two.

First, most all of you probably have heard the sad news that Raz died on March 15th. She had been sick (to varying degrees) off and on for more than 6 months and was not a young dog, but her death was a shock. A couple of weeks after her death, as most of you also probably know, Daniela's sister died after a long illness. That was also very tough.

And any of our readers know that we're in the middle of a long process of renovating our house. This process is rapidly approaching its end, thank goodness. In fact, it will more or less be over by this weekend (with a few minor exceptions), just in time for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Home Tour. Believe it or not, thanks to our designer/builder, we are actually on the tour (I think we're #54, if you want to look us up online or in reality).

In and amongst all this chaos, we have managed to do some things. Way back at the beginning of March, we went to Arizona for a few days. We flew into Tucson, then went to stay at Daniela's sister's house near Sonoita. We did some touring around, visiting the ranch where Daniela grew up, shopping in various artist-colony-type towns, and even making a quick trip across the border to Nogales, Mexico.

(a forest of amazing saguaro cactuses, along with some prickly pears)

(a saguaro in all its massive beauty. Fun fact: it takes 75 years for a saguaro to grow a side arm!)

(The Cienega, the ranch where Daniela grew up, now a preserve. I found it very difficult to capture the austere beauty of the landscape-- the mountains seem much closer in person, for one thing...)

(This is the restaurant we ate at in Mexico; it's called La Roca, and it's built into the side of a cliff)

Then later in March was Eric's mini high school reunion. A group of my friends have kept in touch all these years and periodically have get-togethers. This time we met up in Williamsburg, Virginia, for a weekend. There was some poker (neither of us won), some walking around Colonial Williamsburg, a trip to President's Park, one of the more bizarre tourist attractions in America, and even a go-kart race (I won). The trip was made even more fun by the fact that one of my friends picked us up in St. Paul in his airplane and flew us to his home in Chicago. We were planning to then fly to Virginia, but the weather didn't cooperate. Still, we enjoyed the St. Paul-Chicago round trip very much.

(Jeff and us with our plane. We were planning to fly with Wendy, Jeff's lovely wife, to Virginia-- would have been quite a squeeze in this little plane!)

(we got some nice views of St. Paul from the air, though we're just taking off at this point)

(the giant heads at President's Park. Yes, it is as weird as it looks. And yes, there is also one of these parks in South Dakota)

In the spirit of March Madness, we went to first- and second-round games of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, held at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. We got to watch Iowa State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Depaul, among others.

(during the Iowa St.-Georgia game we were entertained by 2 excellent cheering squads, complete with huge flags...)

At the very end of March, Eric went off to Georgia for his annual fantasy baseball draft. I've done this for several years now-- it's held at a college friend's house in Macon, GA, and involves extreme baseball nerdiness, drinking beer (especially Sweetwater, the best beer in Georgia), and catching up with old friends.

I went straight from Georgia to Washington, DC, where Daniela and I met up to partake of what's become a Bell-Foster tradition: Opening Day for the Nationals. The weather this year was gorgeous, and we made some time for cherry blossom viewing as well. We also met up with some friends who live in Washington-- Sarah & Bob, James & Daryle, and Denise & Andres.

(The last Opening Day at RFK Stadium in Washington. Next year we'll be in the beautiful new ballpark! Notice the "Curly W" mowed into the outfield grass.... there was also a flyover by some military jets-- very loud and exciting. President Bush was apparently too afraid of booing to show up.)

(cherry blossoms near the Tidal Basin)

The day after the Nationals' opener, I went to my first Twins game (I have a mini season ticket plan which gets me to 20 home games). Daniela was baseballed-out, so I took my brother-in-law Roberto. In contrast with the lovely spring weather in Washington, it was snowing here during the game. Good thing the Twins have a domed stadium (for now). Also unlike the Nationals, the home team actually won.

In and amongst these travels, we've spent some time with our adorable nephew Jack, who's growing up fast. We took him and Roberto to the Children's Museum here in St. Paul, and Jack had a blast!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Renovation update (bathroom)

Here are some recent bathroom pictures....

First, a sort of overview: on the right you can see the washer/dryer (yep, it's an all-in-one unit: put dirty clothes in, set it up, and later on, pull out clean and dry clothes), center is the entrance to the shower, and on the left is the tub (just barely in the picture).

Here is the machine itself. It's kind of like a video game, complete with blinking lights, beeps, etc...

Next a few shots of the shower stall. The tile is quite amazing-- a sort of mountain scene, with a 'vein' of copper running through.

And the floor of the shower has little rocks, which feel to me like a mini foot massage each morning. Ahhh...

Here's Daniela's tub. The light from the skylight is streaking through.

This is our beautiful vanity, with cool remnant marble top. Since this photo, the doors have been put back on the vanity...

And this is the door frame of the walk-in closet-- it will be painted purple! There's a similar funky casing around the window in the closet.

Things are definitely moving along! Right now we're suffering through the varnishing of the trim in the kitchen-- fumes are awful, and it's so cold here that opening the house up is not the best option....

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Renovations update (kitchen)

It's been a while since we updated everyone on our renovations... so here goes.

The kitchen is roaring along towards completion, which is currently estimated to be about 2 weeks away. In the past week or so the countertops were installed, so that's the focus of these pictures. The counters are remnant granite, that is, pieces of granite left over from other jobs. It's cheaper than 'regular' granite, and it's environmentally more responsible. Not to mention that it looks cool-- in our kitchen there are 4 (I think) different pieces of granite. Here's an overview shot-- the "peninsula" will have stools on the outside and a nice workspace on the inside. You can just see the hole where the sink will go under the windows.

Here's a closeup of the granite where 2 of the pieces meet.

And another 'seam,' this one of two more similar looking pieces.

The cabinets have all been painted, but most of them have not yet been reinstalled, so it's hard to imagine what they'll look like. But this little section is more or less intact-- it's in the pantry area and the two big doors are for recycling.

And this is a piece of cabinetry located under the peninsula-- again, just so you can see how the paint colors work. Throughout the kitchen, the colors run through the cabinets without regard for the individual cabinet pieces, if that makes sense.... So the lines of color will run across an entire section. You can also glimpse in this picture the cork floor.

Next up-- a bathroom update!