21 September 2008

Starting from the Ground Up -Craftsman Style

o we bought a typical California Craftsman House here in San Diego and it has been an interesting education. Before landing here I really had no idea what a Craftsman House was and I most likely would have guessed that you were talking about a house built by a carpenter. I won't bore you with the details of what exactly a craftsman is, I'll leave you the wiki link above for that. What I will tell you is how this house and I are adjusting and or changing each other.

When I thought of wooden floors this is what would I think of:

But, this is what I got:
Plain light oak strips everywhere in no imaginative pattern. As you can tell from the photo I got some work done on them. The wood expert I hired did a great job of removing years of neglectful pet stains, water marks and other random stains. All that to have it stained to my whim of ebony meets red cherry. It turned out really well. As it happens one good person (the wood expert) knows another and before I knew it I had painters too.

Whilst here in the US it is very common for people to paint their own house I was very uncomfortable with the idea partly due to the fact that all the walls had been BADLY plastered or as they call it here "texturized." The texture was more akin to what you would find in a non-frost free refrigerator after a few years of neglect. So I had them try to undo all the "texture" which took a long time and was a dusty explosion of a mess (as you can see).
The photo below is the color I settled on for the living room (yellow) looking into the dinning room (red). The yellow is very cheery and reminds me of Italy. An interesting cultural footnote is that in Naples if your house is painted yellow then you've paid your dues to the mob so that you can be left alone or so they say.

As you can see I have rails on the walls for hanging paintings (at least that is what I think they are for). Would you trust these rails or just go ahead and use picture hanging nails?
In the photo below you see the entryway to the left is to the kitchen, which I had painted a more vibrant scarlet red and then to the right is the hallway to the bedrooms which is actually painted a sand color. As you can see the floors came out brilliantly (that is when there isn't dog hair on them).
Finally, the most essential room in my house: the kitchen. Here is where the cultural differences are great. First of all this is the first time in my life that I own or have a micowave. This is also the first time in over a decade that there is a non-human dishwasher in the kitchen. In Naples we could never find a rental that had one because they are very uncommon. Many Neapolitans would tell me that a machine could never do as good a job as a good hand washing (I beg to differ). The other difference here is that there is no clothes washer in the kitchen which in all candor is a convenient place for it.

What bothers me most about my new American kitchen? I don't have a scolapiatti in the cupboard. A scolapiatti is a dish drying rack that fits into the cupboard above the sink so that it is hidden away from sight. The water that comes from the dishes either pools in a pan that is the bottom of the cupboard or it just drains directly into the sink (your choice really). I have yet to see this great invention here. Instead I have this big rack on the countertop which drives me crazy when it drains onto the floor. How is it that the scolapiatti can't even be found here? (hint this is a million dollar idea for someone).
N.B. Speaking of kitchens and all things cooking - I have a new survey up on the site (hint hint all of you feed readers) and I would like to know if you want to hear more about food -click on the survey and let me know!

16 September 2008

Do the Children in the US a Favor

Take a look at this post on JetSetBaby -I hope it inspires you to do something before Sept. 26!

15 September 2008

Pretty Funny Sat Night Live

In case you haven't seen it:

10 September 2008

The View from my New Diggs

Holy Matilda, I've been busy! However, I must admit I've been able to keep up with some of my favorite blogs and everyone has been producing some great stuff. Big thank you to my friends and fans for sending me encouraging emails -I really appreciate it!

We finally did find a little house here in San Diego!! I've been hesitant on telling anyone about it because I didn't want to "jinx" it [like I did with Pinky the House]. Yes, I still have my Neapolitan superstition in tact, like they say,
'I don't believe in it -but it doesn't hurt to follow the rules of superstition.'
The house is very American. It came with kitchen cabinets, toilet seat, fans, air conditioning, low ceilings and no steel or wooden shutters (but it did come with plastic blinds). So I'm feeling a little exposed without those huge steel shutters. In Naples you'd be broken into in less time than it takes to boil pasta without shutters (or even with shutters). I also miss the privacy those heavy shutters give -plastic shutters just don't cut it. Speaking of which take a look at my front door (by the way -welcome to my house!):

Who makes doors with see through windows?! You can see right into my living room and dinning room and there is no foyer -NO FOYER! I've had to adjust my expectations when I was house hunting here and not very many houses have foyers. So my big question is where do people leave there muddy/dirty shoes or hang their coats, hats or check their appearance?