Tuesday, October 31, 2006


It's 7:36pm on Halloween, and we've completely run out of candy, glow sticks, Halloween erasers, Homies, and other assorted odds and end toys we had hanging around the house. We even gave away an Easter Bunny Spongebob Squarepants! It's hard to say how many Trick-or-Treaters stopped by, but I think it had to be way more than 100, even with the greedier kids (and in some cases moms!) who grabbed more than one item. We had nearly 50 glow sticks and 60 Halloween erasers... and then just bunches of candy, and maybe about 30 - 40 different little toys. So we've shut off most of the lights and we are hiding out upstairs hoping no one else will come knocking.

During a lull I took the above picture of our mostly unadorned front door. As you can see, there's just my already rotting Jack-O-Lantern, and Kenji's freshly carved one. His is really cute. :)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Layers and Layers and Layers!

Just a quick update on our painting project.

No, we haven't started painting yet.

But we did decide to do our best to remove all the old wallpaper from the walls. So Kenji and I sprayed a mixture of vinegar and water on the wallpaper and scraped and scraped all afternoon. I pretty much finished scraping the small wall where the medicine cabinet used to be, and Kenji made lots of progress on the largest wall, which is opposite the one I was working on.

We discovered that the bathroom had actually been wallpapered three times in the past instead of only twice. I took pictures of the three wallpapers:

These first two are the ones we already knew about. The pink x's and oblong dots one is the one we think is the original layer. The very pale flowery pattern is the most recent one. I had to photograph them together like this because my camera was unable to focus clearly on the flowery one because it didn't have enough contrast.

The paper below is the one that we think is the one that was used in between the other two. I only found a few strips of it left on one of the walls, so it appears that most of it was removed before applying the new paper. I was also unable to the few remaining strips.

I think the wall that this paper is on was not an original wall. For one, it's the only wall in the bathroom that is drywall instead of plaster. Also, since the house was built in 1930, the bathroom probably had a claw foot tub in it instead of an enclosed tub and shower like it has now.

It also appears that the wainscoting that is in our bathroom is not original. Underneath some old wall compound or plaster or whatever, Kenji found some old tile that extends maybe about a foot taller than the wainscoting does.

I think it would be kind of cool to see what the bathroom looked like originally. My guess is that it probably looked very similar to the bathroom that was in an apartment I used to live in when I lived in Hartford, Connecticut. That apartment building was built in the 1920's, and the bathroom was about the same size as ours is now. It had small black and white hexagonal floor tiles with long white rectangular tiles that covered the walls about two thirds of the way up, with the remainder of the walls painted. It had a claw foot tub too. I think the claw foot tub made the bathroom appear a little more roomy than ours though.

Painting the Loo

Ok, so we overcame the car troubles after our unsuccessful attempt to get painting supplies for making our bathroom look pretty. We have our paint, paint brushes, rollers and the like. We even bought a new top for our vanity, because quite frankly, the old one is butt-ugly.

Yesterday we began by removing the medicine cabinet and scraping off the flaking paint. Oh and guess what? Under the paint is wallpaper! Two layers of it - an ugly layer from probably 1930 when the house was built, and then another ugly layer from the 80's. The ugly wallpaper you can see in the photo is the original layer.

The question is, are we ambitious enough to remove all the wallpaper and do it the right way, or are we going to be cheap and lazy about it like the folks to bought, fixed up, and flipped the house before us? Nah, we're probably not that ambitious. But we'll see. Hopefully the walls won't come out too lumpy looking. :P Can't be any worse than how it was before we started... there were many areas where the old wallpaper was just coming off the walls.

We weren't too sure how we were going to get the old top off the vanity. Kenji started by pulling off the sealant around the edges. I had the billiant idea of tapping the edges from below with a hammer and a pies of wood.

Well we didn't have a piece of wood handy, so Kenji took a couple whacks at it with the hammer anyway, and then we had a busted vanity top. But that was ok, because we decided the vanity top would be too heavy to lift off in one piece anyway. Plus it would be piles of fun to just smash it to bits! And it was! It was also really really loud, so we wore noise-dampening headphones. It's amazing how well those work.

Naturally, you have to be very careful when smashing a vanity top to bits. The bits can be very sharp, and need to be handled with care. I thought about wearing my gardening gloves, but my gardening gloves were in the garage, and it was too much of a hassle to go get them. So instead, I cut my thumb, only small-kine, and put on a Larry Boy cucumber band aid. I would have preferred to use a Bob tomato band aid, but I guess I used those up already.

So now we have a sink that is all smashed to bits in a big banana box, waiting for the next bulky-trash pickup day!

Well, the bathroom repainting job is turning out to be more complex than we'd hoped, but I think whenever you do any kind of home repairs, it's wishful thinking to have such hopes. Now our hope is that we just manage to get our one full bathroom back in complete working order in less than three months. :P

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pumpkin Time!

Last weekend Kenji and I bought pumpkins to carve into Jack-O-Lanterns. Today, while we were sitting in Panera Bread having coffe and hot chocolate, I figured out what I was going to carve. So when we got home, I made a nice stencil for myself on the computer that I used to draw my design onto my pumpkin.

Have I mentioned that one of Spammy's new favorite foods is spaghetti squash? Well, while I was gutting my pumpkin this evening, I realized he must have a thing for all gourds. As soon as I started digging out the seeds and stringy sloppy pumpkin guts, Spammy went crazy begging me some. He was munching on the strands, and then he even tried to get inside my hollowed-out pumpkin to lick the insides. It was very silly.

Musubi just looked on, like the polite little kitty she is:

And here's my finished product!

Gas For Less than $2!

Just wanted to note that today I was able to fill our gas tank for $1.99/gallon. Woo-hoo! I haven't been able to do that in years!

Paper Plate Park

Yesterday morning Kenji woke up early to go hiking with our friend Jason and bunch of other people at Paper Plate Park, otherwise known as Kitatinny Valley State Park. I call it Paper Plate Park because someone went and put up paper plates with black arrows everywhere along all the trails there. I think whoever did it must have done it yesterday morning before 10:00am, because we had all kinds of rain and wind the night before, and the plates and arrows didn't look soggy at all.

There were twelve of us altogether. We would have taken a group shot of everyone, but Jason forgot to bring his nifty little tripod, and we were too lazy to figure out a different way to set up the camera. So this is the closest thing I could get to a group shot. I was standing on top of a stone wall next to a little boat launch when I took this.

Last autumn we got gyped out of foliage. The trees stayed green all the way into November. When the leaves finally changed color, it lasted for only about a week and then they all fell off and everything was gray. This year the leaves have been changing more gradually, starting about two weeks ago. Some trees have already lost their leaves while some are at their peak of color, and some are still green. So it's nice we get to enjoy the foliage for a lot longer this year.

I liked the lilly pads and leaves in the water:

And here are some more paper plates. Some places on the trail had four or five paper plates with arrows all pointing in the same direction. Whoever put the paper plates up must have really wanted people to go that way, since apparently one paper plate wasn't enough!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hunting Birdies

The other day it was warm enough for me to open the window. Spammy and Musubi noticed a birdie walking around up on the very edge of our roof. So they both squatted in the window, wishing they could go catch the birdie. :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Painting Plans Foiled!

At least for now.

So the guys who owned our house before we did only bought it to fix up and resell. They didn't care that they painted the bathroom with a flat finish that is impossible to clean!

Well, after a year of living in this house, we've finally decided to repaint the walls and ceiling, replace the vanity top and medicine cabinet, and install the exhaust fan. So Kenji and I wrote down all the necessary measurements, hopped into our car on this wet and rainy evening and went on our way to our local Home Despot.

I don't think we were even a mile and a half away when all of the sudden we could hear a low rumble from our car... then the sound of scraping metal. I pulled over to the side of the road and Kenji jumped out to take a look. It appears that somehow the exhaust pipe plum disconnected itself from the exhaust manifold! So now we have the loudest car on the planet. Bah.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cornfield Maze!

Last night Kenji and I went with a couple of friends, Jason and Emily, to go play in the Stony Hill Farm Market Cornfield Maze. It was lots of fun, in spite of Emily and me being nailed by a flying ear of corn that some unknown maze-explorer-jerk-person threw! I think it glanced off her head and then landed squarely on the knuckles of my right hand. How rude.

The cornfield maze is open on Saturday nights until 9pm, so we planned to arrive there around 7pm. Well, actually we planned to arrive around 6:30, but no one got there till 7:00 anyway. The line was long, so Kenji and Jason stood in line while Emily and I went and bought apples to bring home and hot apple cider to warm everyone up before the maze because it was rather chilly outside.

Each year the Stony Hill Farm cornfield maze has a different theme. This year's was Space Exploration. They give you a little worksheet with games on it that you can play while exploring the maze. There were questions related to space exploration that you could answer to help figure out the "secret" word. There were also stations all around the maze that had embossed symbols of the planets (well, the planets plus Pluto) on them to use for crayon rubbings. Anything involving a crayon is fun, so collecting the crayon rubbings was the only thing I cared about in completing the maze. Jason and Emily were busy collecting all the answers to the questions.

I'm not sure how large the maze was, but looking at the map made it seem larger than it really was. But it was still pretty big. In order to read the map, you had to either purchase "Maze-O-Vision" glasses (cardboard glasses with red tinted gels for lenses), or have a nifty little red keychain flashlight which I just so happened to have. :) While the map helped you to find your way around the maze, it did not really tell you where you could find all the planet crayon rubbing stations. And I think maybe because this maze has very few dead ends, it seems a lot more difficut to navigate compared to other mazes like the Dole Pineapple Plantation maze in Hawaii. The Stony Hill Farm maze also had three bridges that took you over the top of some of the paths, so you could stand up there and look around over the top of the whole maze.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Kitties, One Year Later

It's been just a little over a year since we got Spammy and Musubi. Today was the first day I've caught them snuggled up together in a long time. Maybe because it's getting cold outside again.

See how big they are now compared to last October?

Monday, October 09, 2006


Yesterday, I returned from Baltimore by way of Amtrak. Kenji picked me up from Newark Penn Station and took me to lunch. Then we went home and I had a nice long nap.

The rest of the afternoon we spent digging up our ugly weed garden in the front yard and planting tulips for the spring. I've always hated gardening; I think because my folks made me help fix my grandma's garden when I was a kid and I just wanted to play instead. Plus I really don't know what I'm doing when it comes to horticulture.

We found a lot of stuff while we were digging up weeds... like this little army guy Kenji found. Who knows how long he's been looking out for us in the trenches beside our front steps.

After Kenji dug up all the weeds, I was in charge of digging up the soil to plant the tulip bulbs. I didn't find anything nearly as cool as little soldier guy, but I did find a whole pile of rocks! Well they weren't in a pile until I piled them up in back of our garage, but now they are in a pile. I also found a lot of broken glass. Some of it looks like it came from different bottles, some green, some brown. The rest looks like it may have been from the cellar window that is right in the front of our house. The window that is there now is fine, but I wonder if it was broken before because someone entered the house that way one time, or maybe it was the dang kids who play soccer and football and every other game out in front of our house. And there there's garbage. We are always finding garbage on our front lawn.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chubby Bunny

I've been away almost all week in Baltimore, helping out with our company's exhibit at the Natural Products Expo East. I enjoyed it, well all except for my feet, which were plenty tired from standing all day for three days in a row.

Most of the associates who are with our company do not work out of the main office where I work, and NPEE was the first opportunity I've had to meet some of them. And it was a chance to get to know some of those whom I've already met but don't see very often.

The highlight of the whole experience I have to say was learning a new (to me) game called Chubby Bunny. I was not the winner of this game, but I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard. The president of our company won - he managed to stuff 12 marshmallows in his mouth - and he said this wasn't even close to his former record! I only made it to five, sort of. Well I definitely made it to four, and trying to stuff the fifth one in made me have to spit them all out. I have some video I'd love to show you of one of our other associates who tried to fit ten marshmallows into his mouth... but I'm told that what goes on at NPEE stays at NPEE, so I guess you'll have to settle for the tiny little still shots I've got here of all our contestants.

My other favorite thing about NPEE was that I found the most comfortable pair of shoes ever! They are Earth Shoes, and they look like this. Some of the chicks from our booth were talking about Earth Shoes on Saturday during the show, so during my break, I went to check out the Earth Shoes booth. I tried on a pair of the Ziggys and decided I wasn't going to take them off. So I purchased the shoes and that was that. Too bad I didn't know about Earth Shoes on Thursday when the show started!!!


A couple weeks ago, Kenji and I took a little drive out to Frenchtown, which is right next to Pennsylvania. It's a cute little town, with several funky artsy-fartsy shops and lots of little cafes and restaurants. There's also a bright blue mule that hangs out right in town - and has now become my new Blogger profile image, now that I've lost my shark picture. Frenchtown has the most interesting antique shop I've ever been in - it must be owned by a doctor or scientist, because they sell a lot of science-related antiques.

The weather wasn't the best, plus we already had other plans to go buy food at Wegman's, otherwise we might have gone on a nice bike ride along the Delaware and Raritan Canal. But we did have lunch at the Race Street Cafe, and it was very yummy. I had gazpacho and Kenji had a pastrami sandwich. I think this was the best pastrami sandwich I've had a bite of (after all, I did let Kenji have most of his sandwich!) since we've been in NJ. I still like the pastrami sandwich at Sure Shot Cafe in Makiki better. Mmmm.