Monday, December 31, 2018

Holidays, 2018: Thanksgiving was celebrated two days late at Chateau de Joie, but also had a replay of the menu with a side helping of birthday celebration two days after that. The altered timeline was to make sure all the housemates had a chance to overindulge in food, drink and fun.

As usual, Joie and Marilyn split the pre-dinner duties, then James, Chris, Adeline and Katherine joined in to get all the dishes prepared and on the table. But Joie retained the honor of carving Lucille, the 20-pound star of the show.

 As you can see, no one hesitated to try a little or a lot of everything!
James, Katherine, Marilyn, Adeline & Chris

Joie, James, Katherine & very full plates!

James, Chris, Marilyn, Brittany
The leftovers became the menu for housemate Brittany's birthday celebration, which included a showing of one of her (and the Campbell gals') favorite movies - GREASE!

Needless to say there was an abundance of sing-alongs and plenty of laughs...but the highlight was watching Brittany open her surprise present from Chris and James.

And suddenly, it was the Christmas season! Brittany, James and Chris hung their stockings on the apartment's fireplace mantle and they were magically filled with candy! (Thanks to Brittany's mum)

Marilyn and Joie's fireplace upstairs has no mantle but they still managed to give it a bit of sparkle. If you happen to notice the wok pan on the floor to the right, it's not a present. Its purpose was to catch rain coming through a crack in the roof...but since this blog is about happy holidays, we'll save that story for our end-of-year review.

Though the housemates all visited out-of-state family for Christmas, Joie and Marilyn celebrated The Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve with friend (honorary housemate & renovation associate), Adeline.
Joie's latest appetizer specialty - Bruschetta
Mama Marilyn's Scallop Scampi & Angel Hair Pasta
Adeline's Yule Log - a pretty and scrumptious finale

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

November 15, 2018:  Picture it -- Evening. All five residents of Chateau de Joie are comfortably full from a high-carb dinner and relaxed from a variety of beverages, lounging in front of the television, watching the Cold War cult classic, "Dr. Strangelove." Suddenly from the back yard came a disruptive...BANG!

"That sounded like a shotgun," Joie warily stated without moving from her comfy position.
Marilyn frowned. "It's not hunting season...except for coyotes."


That got Joie, James, Chris, and Brittany rushing to the picture window and pulling back the curtains (Mama Marilyn chose to stay put since she knew whatever might be visible in the dark would look the same from her spot on the couch).

To everyone's surprise, colorful fireworks lit up the sky, not precisely in our back yard but very close by.
Guesses were immediately tossed about. "Is it a holiday?" "Something going on at the golf course?" "An event at UMass?" "A Puffer's Pond Party?"

The display stopped a few seconds later and, a second after that, Brittany pointed outside and simply said, "Look." And because everyone was vulnerable to suggestion, they did, and saw...


Apparently someone out there thought the somewhat early arrival of the frozen wet white stuff was worthy of a noisy announcement. Not everyone in the living room agreed. But once Joie noted that sledding would soon be possible, the grumbling stopped (temporarily) and the movie was given the attention it deserved.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

November 8, 2018: Just for the record - No brush hog/field mowing this year or even a final mow of the lawn due to the fact that the entire rear of the property has standing water. Today is one of the few days we've seen sunshine since June so the Reno Queens took the opportunity to take pics. Fingers and toes are crossed that this year's soggy, dreary weather was a fluke and not a new meteorological trend!

Meanwhile, this week's mid-term election results have the Campbell gals smiling in spite of the disappointing summer and fall weather - so many encouraging firsts regarding women with a range of ethnicity as well as LGBT wins! Sending all the victors wishes for a successful future. Click the link below for the Washington Post synopsis:

 Mid-term elections results: A Night of Firsts!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Fall 2015
Fall sunset 2016
October 11, 2018: An autumn not to be remembered. Actually not much to remember about this last summer either, so this will be yet another post just for the record. The photos in this post were all taken in previous fall seasons...because this one hasn't offered a single breathtaking site. It's rained almost every day since June, often heavily for hours. The pool required regular dumping because of overflowing and a balanced chemical content couldn't be maintained because of the dirty/acid rain.

Speaking of the pool, Joie & Marilyn were given detailed instructions on how to "open" and "close" that hole in the ground (something they never heard of doing in South Florida). They are very proud to announce they accomplished both tasks on their own & can now do it for all the springs and falls in the future!

(Ironically, shortly after this posted, the 20+ year old vinyl pool liner (something else they never heard of in Florida) tore & 30,000 gallons of water and a lot of expensive chemicals leaked out into the hill behind the pool! The solution requires a shockingly expensive renovation, which will not happen in the near future.)

On a separate note, Joie spent a good portion of the summer doing research for her dissertation in Alabama, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. library archives, and Marilyn used the time to finish her third time-travel mystery novel, so no renovation work or property improvements took place. Marilyn did try doing yard work whenever the rain let up but that resulted in numerous bee and yellow jacket stings and poison ivy rashes, so Joie ordered her to stop fighting Mother Nature this year.
Fall 2014

Other positive notes: in the past month, we enjoyed visits from several family members and friends who were only slightly disappointed about the lack of fall colors; plus we once again have a full house of wonderful grad students in residence.

Finally, the Campbell gals apologize for the lack of reno updates over the past year, but they have big plans for next summer, so stay tuned!

Red Maple 2014
Golden Maple 2014

Sunday, July 15, 2018

How many grad students does it take to... *
June 30, 2018: Bartering is a beautiful thing! Because of such an exchange, the Reno Queens just got to take care of an item that had been on the Chateau de Joie's to-do list for 4 years without ever nearing the priority level. With the necessary material and tools in hand, and the help from an extra pair of hands (namely those of former housemate Katherine), the deteriorating metal screen on the upstairs porch was ripped down and new, nearly invisible screen was put up.
Joie impatiently waiting for her turn with the new staple gun
Although it is still only a temporary fix since the entire porch and its roof must eventually be replaced, at least the magnificent view is now less obstructed. The photos below were taken in the same amount of sunlight & nicely show how much clearer the view is through the new screen!

* Note: Apologies to Katherine, who is no longer a grad student as she graduated last spring and is well on her way to a sparkling career as a professional historian, but Mama Marilyn could not resist using the old joke in the caption.
July 15, 2018: A just for the record post...
Unlike last summer, the summer of 2018 is not one of multiple major renovation accomplishments due to several factors. The most important reason is that most of Joie's time is filled with traveling to and from  academic conferences and multiple library archives where she is conducting research for her doctoral dissertation.

Marilyn's excuse is based on the fact that Mother Nature seems to be angry with her this year. Within a ten-day period - while mowing the labyrinth, she disturbed some bumble bees, which stung her left ankle 9 times resulting in considerable pain and swelling, while trimming the bushes by the front door, she disturbed a nest of yellow jackets, which turned her upper right arm into a fat red balloon, and while weeding she failed to recognize a type of poison ivy, came in contact with it and spread it to various spots on her legs and arms before scrubbing the toxins off.

Adding to all that are temperatures rising as high as 112 degrees and the almost new air conditioning system stopped cooling on July 3rd, the day before a holiday. An emergency service call was required to discover that a rather long milk snake had somehow gotten into the outside condenser (which is up on blocks and has no ledges to  be climbed by any critter let alone a snake) and wrapped itself around the fan blades until they stopped moving and shut the system down.

And it's only mid-July.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

May 28, 2018: Ain't that suite!
In 2014 when the Campbell gals moved into Chateau de Joie, it was a mud-room/open storage area, packed with spider-web coated furnishings and stuff left behind by the previous owner. It had a non-functioning shower and massive equipment for a built-in vacuuming system from the nineteen-sixties.

But Joie knew it had the potential to become a master bedroom suite to be added to the downstairs apartment. One year and a LOT of manual labor later, her belief became reality...but the space still wasn't quite what she had envisioned.

Over the last 12 months, along with all the other downstairs renovations that have been reported in this blog, the suite got the upgrade it deserved with...

...walls, doors, new lighting, carpeting, and wood plank flooring...

...a contemporary bathroom with new granite-topped vanity, toilet, pedestal sink, medicine cabinet and mirrors...

...closets and shelving...

<This area was previously dead space at the bottom of the stairs...until Joie had another vision. Our fave contractor, Ryan Regan-Ladd, made it happen by enclosing the space and custom-building a cubby and shelf unit. (See the "Closets, closets, closets" blog for work-in-progress pics.)>

<This closet used to be mostly unusable, inaccessible, understairs space but, between Ryan and Joie, it became a very usable, enclosed closet in the walk-through closet area. (See the "Closets, closets, closets" blog for step-by-step photos, including Joie doing a tricky drywall job.)>

...a tall chest of drawers and shoe rack...

...and a full-length mirror and a hall tree by the private entry door!

Ta-dah and hip-hip-hooray - Chateau de Joie's new master suite is ready for a new housemate!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

May 3, 2018: Spring has FINALLY sprung at Chateau de Joie! It wasn't the worst winter ever, but it did last almost SEVEN months, with cold starting in October and the last snow falling April 18th.

Unfortunately, with the temperatures already hitting the 90s, it doesn't look like spring will be with us for long. But first comes the daily thunderstorms...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

May 2, 2018: The Board of Champions is finally off the never-ending to-do list and up on the wall of the laundry/workout room! Joie & Mama Marilyn are so very proud to have shared Chateau de Joie with these stellar grad students:

Chelsea Miller, the first housemate to earn her Master's Degree in 2016

Chloe Spinks and
Katherine Fecteau earned theirs in 2017

The PhD Candidates still have a little ways to go before donning the cap and gown, but, as of today, they have all successfully defended their dissertation prospectuses like the champions they are!
Congratulations to
Chuck Weisenberger, today's honoree,
Sarah Lavallee,
Chris Fobare,
Joie Campbell, and honorary housemate
Adeline Broussan

There's no such thing as "down-time" at Chateau de Joie!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

July, 2017-Present:  Closets! Closets! Closets!

Joie and Marilyn believe one can never have too much storage space and true closets have doors. Thus came the one improvement to the downstairs apartment that involved almost every area.  See contractor Ryan-Regan Ladd being patient with Marilyn's inspection of the new louvred door for the shared bathroom.
Dead space being prepped

But before closet door installs began, Joie had an IDEA!
At the bottom of the stairs, before entering the apartment or the laundry/workout room, there was a sizable area of dead space. So she asked Ryan to convert it into additional closet space for the master suite...with her help, of course.
The first step was to remove the "back door" into the suite and the old flooring in the wasted section of the foyer.
Next came building a new frame and drywalling that on both sides.
Building new walls

Drywalling foyer side

Drywalling suite closet side

Et voila! Dead space becomes a closet with a shoe cubby
Aah, but Joie was not yet done with her closet ideas for the suite. There was poorly-used space under the stairs as well. So she put her strength and determination into tearing out all the unnecessary wood (including a built-up platform that hid things she'll never be able to unsee) until it was down to the bare bones.

Having successfully passed Ryan's Drywalling 101 class on the other side of the apartment, Joie tackled the challenging job of drywalling and soundproofing what would become the slanted ceiling of another new closet space.
FYI, the low space at the back became a usable storage space on the basement side. 
Gross to gorgeous!

While Joie's efforts were focused in the suite, Ryan installed sliding closet doors in each bedroom (there were none before) and replaced the old, solid closet door in the shared bathroom with a louvred one to provide air-flow.

Now those are finished spaces!