Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Jolly Holiday

Christmas Decorations

We've been busy at my parents' house decorating for Christmas this year. They always host our extended family on Christmas Day, so we take great care and joy in decorating the house for our family and ourselves. Since my house can't be decorated this year, I decided to share pictures of their house.

Christmas Wreath on the back door. One of my sisters made this a few years back.

Sideboard in the Den. We really didn't do much in this room, but this little, over-lit Christmas tree with its big huge bow sure is cheerful!

Kitchen tree. The Quilt on the wall was given to my mother by my grandmother years ago. This tree is a favorite of the kids and young at heart. Check out the next picture to see why:

It's decorated completely with play food! You know, toy kitchen type stuff. This really is a fun tree. You can't help but smile when you discover the surprises hidden in the branches.

Dining Room. No tree in this room this year. Instead we decided to focus on the mantel and decorate with silver. We have a LOT of polishing to do...

Living Room. This is the Family Tree. It's decorated with the old-fashioned big bulbs, white minis, colored minis, and every decoration the 5 of us kids have ever made. This is where Christmas morning happens.

A better, centered view. Check out the angel on top. We had to help her out a little bit this year. Might I add that this tree is VERY bright from outside.

Living Room mantel. It hosts the collection of Santas, a silver/snowy Christmas tree, and a manger scene. This is where we hang the stockings with care.

Ah, the study tree. The physical tree is new this year; the one we used to use retired. This might be my favorite tree. It's meant to be a more masculine tree, since it's in the Study. It's decorated with all natural materials and birds.

Another view from inside the room.

A close up of the birds and ribbon and ornaments.

The topper. I won't divulge any secrets. But this tree is very nice to contemplate after a long day at work...

The front door is still in progress. Half of it is up.

The Hall tree, covered in fruits. This tree is really pretty, too. We haven't finished with the Hall decorations, including the lights. They still need to be tweaked a bit.

Close up of the heavy, beaded fruits.

Hall, looking from the front door. The staircase has gold lame swags and draped beads. We like to change this one up every year. You can see where the Hall tree lives, on top of the sideboard.

View looking up. This staircase takes about 5 hours to decorate all by itself. Which is why we haven't finished the Hall decorations, yet.

A view from the halfway point.

And looking down... We're all very pleased with how the staircase came out this year. Even more so because it was totally and completely improvised.

We're almost done. We lack only a few touches to the hall and of course, packing and re-storing all the decoration boxes. And the major clean-up before family comes.

I'll leave you with two beautiful poinsettias that my mother received 'just because' this year. We're going to find them a home, too.

I hope everyone has a bright, happy, and magical Christmas this year!

Monday, December 10, 2007

How did you find YOUR contractor?

December Update

The KEEP OUT signs I posted on the dumpster two weeks ago seem to be working. No new trash in the dumpster, as far as I can tell. I talked to one of my neighbors on Friday and she hadn't seen anything. Apparently they did their deed while she was a work. It was nice talking with her; she's always one to come out and speak to me when she sees I'm working over there. She's very glad that someone bought the house. It had been empty for a while and she candidly told me the last tenants there had made it into a 'drug house'.

I went over to the house on Friday because I managed to get off of work early and wanted to take advantage of the daylight to do a walk-through of the property. I do have the electricity turned on over there, but only in one apartment, on one side (the power company was going to bill me for service to both apartments, since that is how they are wired). But it's not a big deal since they are separate apartments no more--- the walls are stripped down to the studs. Running an extension cord is no problem. But there are no lights. One used to work but... err... the wall switch may have been accidentally hit with a hammer, causing the actual 'switch' plastic part to break off. Don't know how that happened...

So I was walking through in the daylight, getting a feel for the space. I'm trying to modify my new floor plan to use the existing walls are they stand now. Since most of it is stripped down to the studs, I have a better feeling of the flow of the space and where the original doorways were in the house. I know what I want, but I'm trying to figure out what will work best and where compromises will have to be made.

I still haven't heard anything lately from my contractor. But I did hear through the grapevine that he's been working on another project for someone--- turning their existing carport into a den and adding on a new carport. But from him, I have not heard a word. No estimates, nothing. While I was at the house for the walk through, I could tell that no one had been there, so I know he's not properly getting estimates and taking subcontractors on a tour of the home. Which has led me to this:

Even though I love his work, I'm not going to wait on him any longer. It's been five months since he told me he'd be at my house in two months. And at this point, I've determined that either he's not interested, not truly interested working with me, or that he just thinks I'll wait on him indefinitely. I'm not going to do that. Aside from having owned the house for seven months now and not being able to live in it, I am also paying a hefty builder's risk/vacant house insurance policy that I have to renew every six months. And then there's always the interest accruing at the bank on the draws I've made on my construction loan. It's costing me more than time at this point, it's costing me money, too.

Plus I'm just ready to get it started, to get even more excited about it. I have a vivid imagination and when I'm in the space I can see very clearly what it could be, what it will be. The other kicker is that yes, it's a entire house renovation, but it could very easily be completed in two months, if every job is scheduled on time (which I know it won't be, but follow my logic here). For such a small house and not that extensive of a project, it's inane to have waited five additional months for work to even begin.

My question to you is this: How did you find your contractor? I'm actively hunting a new one. I have one in mind, but have yet to talk to him, and have gotten other companies' names off signs in the yard of houses being repaired/rebuilt since the tornado. I know I'll have to wait for a new person, too, but maybe they will be more actively interested in my project than my current guy, who happens to have worked both for my sister and parents.

Lately my weekends have been filled with helping my parents' decorate their house for Christmas. Maybe tomorrow I'll get some pictures up of some of the stuff we've done.