Saturday, November 28, 2009

thanksgiving coma...

(my brothers; Ray & Marty - they're ready to eat)

We had a really good time on Thanksgiving. We nearly had everyone in the Family on Thursday (other than my son and my sister-in-law Chris). It was really good food, but gets cold so quickly :(

Jerome was cooking like a mad man!

The next day we picked up Justin from the airport and headed to my parents for a second round at the Thanksgiving food.

Today is a bit of a quiet day - nice.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

flight delay...

Justin's flight out of Fayetteville, NC was supposed to take off at 8:58am today, but it's delayed (at the moment) until 12:53pm!!! Fog. He still has to catch a connector out of Charlotte, NC and then fly here.

I think he'll be late for dinner. :'(

Justin won't be here today. His flight was so delayed that he already missed his connecting flight and was told that there would not be any more flights out of Charlotte today. He is told to come back in the morning and do it all over again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

but before that, there is thanksgiving...

Having family over tomorrow; my oldest brother Marty, his wife Chris (she went to the wreath making event with me) and their kids Jacob & Jordan. My youngest brother Ray and his youngest daughter Cate. My cousin (from Belgium) Martine and her twin daughters Jill & Lynn. My son Justin. And possibly surprise guests (not tellin').

Jerome was busy last night shopping and starting to prepare the dishes and then he will continue all night tonight. I'm the cleaner and house preparer - he is the shopper and cooker. I like it like that.

I pick up Justin from the airport tomorrow at 1:15pm. And we are expecting everyone around 5pm. Hope everything works out the way it's planned.

The table is set with my parents china that they received for their marriage in 1951. It is Wentworth china with the Viola pattern. It's made in Japan, so why do they call it china? ;)

Monday, November 23, 2009

whoa, i am all christmassed out!...

You know Christmas can be so gaudy! I hope I haven’t overdone it. I have Jerome tell me whether something is too kitsch and I hope his all-seeing-kitsch-eyes are working when it comes to what I’ve put up.

The only thing left as far as decorating is concerned is the basement. Jerome had a good idea and I hope we can make it happen. My mother had a group of ladies come to her house a couple of years back to learn how to make these really cool looking paper snowflakes. Jerome says we should make a bunch and hang them from the drop ceiling tiles in the basement – tons of them. It will look like it’s snowing.

I think I’ll try to have the kids make some on Thanksgiving. Sweatshop style :)

Then I want to hang a bunch of paper decorations that my son made me throughout the years. THIS might end up looking kitsch!

And finally, we’ve done a few crafty things together like making ice luminaries and recycling old Christmas cards (photos to follow).

I think I may have spent a little over $200 on different items for this tour. Including, but not limited to:
holiday ribbons (different sizes and colors) from Michaels
wreath making event at the Henry Ford
vintage ornaments in a jar and eucalyptus sprig from The Lambs Tail
an assortment of ornaments from The Home Depot
60 feet of cedar roping from Sherwood Forest Garden
a poinsettia from The Home Depot
a pump pot and some cups (for refreshments) from Sam’s Club

Sunday, November 15, 2009

wreath making at the henry ford estate...

When I worked on Detroit's west side a few years ago, a friend that I worked with brought me to the Henry Ford Estate for lunch. The HFE has a room called The Pool Room which used to be an indoor pool inside the mansion. They have covered the pool and made that part of the room into the dining area of the restaurant. It's very beautiful and you get an idea of how the Ford's lived (very nicely, by the way).

So, for the duration of my time working on Detroit's west side, I frequented this little restaurant - took everyone and anyone there. I nearly always ordered the quiche of the day and soup of the day which were always fantastic.

Also during that time I had picked up one of their fliers and saw that they have little events there like "Tea with Clara Ford" or "Spring Bouquet" where you make an arrangement of spring flowers as a centerpiece for Easter.

Five years ago, I decided that I would try out the wreath making event. This is taught by a couple of guys who own their own floral decorating business. They teach you step by step how to make a wreath with 5 different types of evergreens; juniper, 2 different kinds of cedar (I remember one was called incense cedar), white pine and can't remember the fifth...oops.
I really enjoyed it and decided this year to go again. This time I invited my sister-in-law, her mother Pat, her sister Debbie and my 10 year old niece Jordan. It was sticky, dirty, smelly (like pine, so not bad) fun! And we all got to take our beautiful wreaths home.
I highly recommend this class and the "Tea with Clara Ford", which I took my mother to last year. I'm sure the other programs are just as good, but I can only recommend what I've done.
After the event was over, we all headed to Romeo to catch some lunch. Then off to The Lamb's Tail Holiday Fair. This is a cute little antique shop in Armada. I purchased a jar full of vintage ornaments (very reasonably priced) and a sprig of colored eucalyptus.

When I got home, I used my newly tuned wreath making skills and threw this together:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2009 Romeo Christmas Home Tour...

Finally “that time of year” is upon us; the 2009 Romeo Christmas Home Tour.

Two tour times; 4:00pm and 6:30pm on Saturday, December 12.

Tour six holiday themed historic homes. This year our house, will be one of the six houses on the tour.

Tickets for the Christmas Home Tour are $15 (proceeds will benefit the Romeo Historical Society) and they are available right now at the following stores in Romeo:

Kane’s Town Hall Antiques (205 N Main St)
• Connelly’s Creations (175 S Main St)
• Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (218 N Main St)
• or by calling 586-752-4111

Hope you find the time to come and visit.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

food critic...

I decided last night that since we do eat out a lot, I should do a little write up on the restaurant we visit – especially if it leaves a lasting positive or negative impression on me. If it sticks in my mind.

Last night we were headed to Younger’s Irish Tavern in downtown Romeo for their Wednesday special; dollar burgers. Yes, the burgers are a dollar, but if you want anything on them, it’s extra. Only once did we try to actually make them $1 by just ordering the plain burger and a glass of water. Anyway, when you have it with all the fixin’s, it’s a very good burger and a really good gimmick to get customers in the door.

As we were pulling into the parking lot, we noticed the new restaurant “Polish Village”. There was an empty parking spot over there and Jerome said we should give it a try – support local businesses. A couple of week’s back we went to the real Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck and enjoyed the stuffed cabbage (golabki) and kielbasa. We were hoping for something similar.

The restaurant is very spacious, having plenty of tables and booths but also plenty of isle way for customers and wait staff. But the atmosphere was uninviting and had an unfriendly feeling and smelled of sauerkraut. We decided that they kept the furniture from the previous business that was in the space and just set up shop.

We sat in the first booth we came to, but were asked to move because the booth seat was apparently broken. So we moved deeper into the restaurant.

The wait staff was friendly and took our order quickly. I ordered the combo meal; city chicken and stuffed cabbage with mashed potatoes. Jerome ordered the potato pancakes. We both ordered the stuffed pepper soup.

The stuffed pepper soup had a tomato base, with rice and peppers. The serving size was large and it was a filling soup and we could have stopped there and had been satisfied – with a fair review. But we continue…

In a reasonable amount of time, our main dish arrived. The presentation was fine. The first thing I tried was the city chicken, which was in a nice thick brown gravy. The gravy had a pleasant taste and the city chicken was pretty tasty. Then I tried the sauerkraut – MAN was that stuff salty and tasted like they poured a little too much vinegar in the recipe. The mashed potatoes were a dry thick consistency which makes you believe they were from a box. But on top of that, they had a very strange bland taste which didn’t become any better no matter how much butter and salt was added.

Finally the stuffed cabbage (golabki). The tomato sauce was a thick sauce which had a nice flavor. They were not very generous with the sauce as it could have used more. The meat and rice inside were quite tasty too; yet the cabbage that surrounded it was undercooked and hard. Ended up not finishing the cabbage or the sauerkraut.

Jerome was not impressed with his potato pancakes either – he said it reminded him of a glorified hash brown.

He was disappointed and we decided that we would not come again.

The waitress and the manager came by the table to ask how everything was, but we were too polite to let them know our real thoughts and just said unenthusiastically that everything was fine.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

garage door mess...

Over the weekend, Jerome was installing the garage door opener. He only needed my help every now and then.

The instructions (yes, he is one to actually READ the instructions) said to put a 2x4 on the ground in the path of the garage door to test the reverse mechanism. This will help you determine the “force” that is required. There is a little tuner on the side of the opener.

Jerome did what was instructed and the door did not automatically reverse.

The instructions also said to push the button and then hold the garage door as it is going down as to prevent it from going down – the automatic reverse should go into effect.

Jerome did what was instructed and the door did not automatically reverse…in fact, the garage door continued to close while Jerome was holding the door and the “force” was so strong that it buckled the door – creasing it so much that it split. I happened to be there when it happened.

Oh My God! It brought tears to his eyes. Our beautiful special order door; the top panel completely dented…and ugly.

He was crippled. I told him to give the garage door guy a call and see what he says. Maybe it’s covered by the warranty. He called the guy and was told not to feel bad, that it happens to a lot of people.

The thing is, the door cost us around $1700 – it’s not insulated because the garage is not attached and so it doesn’t need insulation. The top panel (the panel that was destroyed) was mostly made up of windows; hardly any metal – so, considering those two points; hardly any structure. And then you think what kind of cheap metal is this thing made out of that it can bend so easily? It’s not Jerome’s fault, he was just following the instructions.

The garage door guy came out last night to take a look. Since it’s a special order, it will take upwards of two weeks for it to come in. We asked if we could reuse the current windows in the new panel. We were told that we could, but we should try to not open and close the door very often in order to make sure the windows will stay in tact. That means we either won’t park in the garage or we will keep the door open all the time. The guy will get back to us regarding the cost…not covered :( (Update: got an email from the garage door guy and the new panel is going to cost nearly $700!)

So, the next step is to see if the manufacturer of the garage door opener will reimburse us something, since the reverse mechanism seems to be malfunctioning…we’ll see.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


We’ve got neighbors!

5 years ago today, was the first time we laid eyes on this house. At the time, the property to the west of us was a wooded lot. We were informed pretty early through the process that the little old lady (Ilene Lock) who owned the lot was about to have it zoned and put it up for sale. We were also told that she would be more than willing to sell us a 1’X200’ piece of land for $1000 and we could buy as much as we liked – but to let her know ASAP, cuz it was going on the market within the month.

We were already shell shocked by how much we were spending and were not yet used to the new payment and whether we felt comfortable with adding an additional $10,000 on to what we already owed. Turns out we more than could have done this and we are totally kicking ourselves that we aren’t very risky.

We moved in on June 15th, 2005 and apparently, the lot had been sold to a builder a few months before. By the time we moved in, one house was close to completion. We thought there would only be enough room for the one house, so we were not all that concerned. When in October of 2005, he started clearing the lot closer to our house, we started getting worried.
(photo taken mid-October 2005)

He began pouring the footings for the basement in mid-October and by the looks of it, was going to be building a very large house on a small, awkward lot. We were assured by the Village Inspector that the builder was not allowed to change the grade, and that the hill would remain in tact.

As the house was going up; this huge vinyl beast, we couldn’t help but feel like we had really made a mistake by not buying some of the property. The guy wouldn’t have been able to fit two houses on the lot if we had purchased around 10 feet...or could he?
(photo of water in the window well taken July 2006)

Being that the house is on a hill, and the hill cascades down toward our house, we started noticing problems immediately. During a downpour, the water from the hill directly fell into our western-most window well. It filled up with water and started leaking into the house. I have a movie of Jerome trying to use a bucket in the well to remove the water during this torrential rain storm. Jerome ended up constructing an additional level of protection with cinderblocks left behind by the former owners. It seems to have done the job – that, and the fact that the builder had finally installed some gutters on that monstrosity.
(by mid-February 2006, the second house was up)

Fast forward to the economic crisis. The house never sold. It stood there vacant since they finished it in late 2005. The builder never finished the inside, nor the driveway or landscaping – he went into foreclosure. The house he built next to this one (west of this one), has had 2 owners already. The first owner purchased it for nearly $300,000 and put more than $50,000 into it before GM transferred him to another state. GM gave him what he bought the house for and then put it on the market. The market plummeted and GMAC ended up selling it for $235,000. It’s up for sale again (by owner); they are asking for the same amount that they purchased it for, but in the meantime, here is this vacant, never lived in ramshackle right next door that is bank owned.
(photo taken May 2006 - the house (gray one next to ours) pretty much stayed looking like this for the next 3+ years - however, empty and not cared for)

About a week ago, we noticed a lot of activity around that house and over the weekend, Jerome said that it’s true, we do have new neighbors.

A young couple purchased it from the bank and have big plans for it. He is a builder and her family owns a local sod farm. They are putting in new flooring, new kitchen countertops, they want to make a walk out basement. They are going to put up a retaining wall between our properties and build a deck and put in a swimming pool. They will be sodding as well and have verbally offered up any extra sod that they don’t use. Oh, and they want to do it all in a month (with the exception of the swimming pool which will go in next year). He also mentioned that he would love to brick the house. Now that would be awesome and expensive.

I asked how much they purchased the house for and how much our property value has decreased. He told me $130,000!!! MY LORD! This house is around 2300 square feet.

Well, we’re hoping for great things. It will be a little strange having someone over there, but I hope that the look of the place will improve now that there is signs of life.