Friday, July 20, 2012

Family Friday: Aunt Katie - my namesake (maybe)

Yup, it's time to talk about another of my family members.  Really, I just want to show you all one of the COOLEST pictures I found while digging through the old family photos.  It's a picture of my great-grand-aunt Katie aka Catherine.  Now, I spell my name a bit differently and there are a number of Catherines/Kathryns in my family tree - me, my Mom's sister, my grandmother's sister, my great-grandfather's sister (who I'm featuring today), my great-great grandmother's sister, my great-great-great grandmother, you get the idea - but this Catherine seems like a pretty cool gal.  Do I know all that much about her?  No, but what I do know and what I've seen and the fact that we share a name, leads me to believe she's cool.  I mean, just look at this photo:

Here she is dressed as Lady Liberty and holding a SWORD!  I don't have official confirmation of this, but it appears that she was a member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians (LAOH).  I just love this photo.  It's going to be part of the gallery wall I'm putting together for our living room.

Aunt Katie (like so many of my ancestors) was born in Pennsylvania to a coal miner and his wife.  She was born in 1885 and was one of 8 children.  I only know who 7 of those 8 children were.  I think Katie may have had an older sister and her name may have been Ann/Anna, but I haven't been able to confirm this yet.  I just know that in the 1900 census my great-great grandmother said she gave birth to 8 children and 7 of them were currently alive.  If the 1890 census hasn't been lost in a fire, maybe I would know for sure.

Aunt Katie married a gentleman names John and they moved to Pottsville, PA.  Eventually, my great-grand-aunt Agnes (who was legally blind) moved in with them.  John died in 1945, but Agnes lived with Katie until she passed away in 1953.  That's Katie on the left and Agnes on the right:

I don't know much else, but I think I would have liked her.  We have the same name, she's proud of her Irish heritage, and she loves her family.  What more can you ask for?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Family Friday: My Great-Grandmother

I'd like to get back into Family Friday posts.  Today I'd like to talk about my Great-Grandmother, Mary Ann McGlynn.  She was born in 1881 in the heart of Anthracite coal country.  She was the 4th of 5 children and the 2nd of 3 daughters.  Her father was a coal miner and a Civil War Veteran.  She and her mother are both members of that long line of strong, Irish women that I know I've mentioned before.  Her father died in 1889 and by 1905 she and her family had moved to New York City where she was working as a dressmaker with her younger sister Maggie.  This is Mary Ann McGlynn:

Don't you just love the look of old photos?  I have no idea what year this was taken or why it was taken, but I'm glad that it was.  I have to wonder if it was taken for my Great-Grandfather and sent to him.  They must have known each other and maybe even grown up together.  I know in 1900 they were both living in the same area and by 1910 they were married and had had their first daughter.  I like to think that the 2 of them wrote letters to each other after she moved to New York and eventually decided to marry so she moved back to Pennsylvania.

My GGmother had 5 children.  She was pregnant with the 5th when her husband died in the fall of 1918.  She had to figure out a way to keep her family going and at some point ran a small shop out of the front room of her home.  I don't know the name of the shop or everything that was sold there or even how long she ran it, but I remember my grandmother once telling me that sweets and bread were sold there.  In the late 1920s and early 1930s, my GGmother became tax collector for the Borough of Coaldale, PA.

She passed away in 1936 before her youngest had even finished high school.  My Mom never got to meet her grandmother which makes me a little sad.  Especially since I think so highly of my grandmother and I'm sure there was a lot of my GGmother in her.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

No longer the ugliest backyard on the block

Our backyard needed some serious help.  It was definitely the ugliest backyard on the block and we live on a block of people who seriously care about their yards and houses.  Every house on our block is owned (there are renters sprinkled through our neighborhood) and we have a number of original owners on our block.  Now, please don't take my mention of all the houses being owned as a slight against renters.  I've been there, I've rented, there's nothing wrong with it.  I only bring it up because when we were looking at this house we talked to a neighbor and he made a big deal about it.  I understand why now.  Our neighbors are pretty great.  They care about each other and about where they live.

Anyways, back to our yard.  Formerly known as the ugliest backyard on the block.  Note that all of these pictures were taken from our deck.  Let's begin with the before...

I wish we could say that we did all the work ourselves, but we knew it would never happen if we did it ourselves.  We're just not yardwork people.  So, we got a few estimates and we're really happy with the results...

There's still work to be done.  Our fence needs help.  The concrete down around our grill needs a serious powerwashing and probably to be painted to stained or something to seal it and keep schmutz from growing on it.  Unfortunately, it's now disgustingly hot outside so that's not going to happen anytime soon.  However, it needs to happen before the winter.  Let's not think about that right now though.  Instead, let's look at this side by side comparison.  Enjoy!

Blogging #FAIL

Well, so much for my regular blogging schedule.  I have been completely failing at that!  I really want to get fully involved and be part of "blogland" and be super cool like so of my favorite bloggers and go to fun blog conferences like Haven.  I'm just having a hard time finding balance these days.  I was really hoping that having it be summer would give me more time to blogand get into a groove with it, but so far that has not worked in my favor.  The lack of TV shows (yes, I watch TV and probably too much of it, but I don't care!) worth watching in the summer has given me time to do all kinds of stuff.  Unfortunately, blogging seems to have fallen to the wayside (is that how you spell that?).

What have I do so far this summer you ask?  Well, here's a quick recap!

  • My friend Jenny (aka Canard) got married.  This meant a weekend of fun and shenanigans with Joe and my best friends from college.

  • My friend Pam (aka Pammy) is getting married soon.  This has meant other weekends of fun and shenanigans with my best friends from college and one more coming up.  Can't wait!!

  • Everyone in Joe's family has had a birthday.
  • I've gotten myself back to eating healthy, working out, and counting my points.
  • I've started a lot of projects around the house.  Note that I said started.
I'll have some project updates soon, I swear!

Some progress

As we all know, there just aren't enough hours in the day.  Luckily, the days are really long right now so I feel like I have more time to get things done and I've been working hard to get some things done around my house.  We cleaned like mad a few Saturdays ago because all of my in-laws were going to come over to our house after the annual birthday dinner for the hubs and his mom.  We've done a pretty good job of continuing to keep the house clean, but I do see some things creeping back in (I'm looking at you, pile of mail on the dining room table!).  We've decided to try to get a big "to do" list and a cleaning schedule of sorts together in an attempt to not have to do another massive cleaning all in one day.  Of course, we're yet to sit down to actually put that together yet.  I blame that partially on my sudden inspiration to clean the fridge.

A few weeks ago, after dinner, I set about cleaning our fridge.  We've wiped down the shelves here and there and we had to clean it really good a while back when we had a soda explode in there, but I've never cleaned like I did that night.  I basically took apart our fridge.  Every shelf came out... except the one that has this handy crank adjuster thing.  I could NOT figure out how to get that fancy shelf out, but I made sure to clean it really well.  I am SO glad I made the decision to clean the fridge.  It took me about 2.5 hours.  Yeah, that's how gross our fridge had gotten without me realizing it.  I am vowing here and now that I will clean the fridge on a more regular basis so I don't have to do what I did that night again.  Help me stick to this vow, ok blogland?  I'm not a fan of finding sticky globs of who knows what in my fridge.

I've been working on a few other projects over the last few weeks.  I really want to get our guest room done.  Or at least as done as it's going to be without painting.  That's something I want to do in the future, but I have enough other painting projects lined up for now.  I spray painted one of the lamps in there (pictures and details to come).  It's this really rich blue now and I painted the frame that was holding the Norman Rockwell Baseball print that I picked up on my yard sale day with my mom the same color.  The print will get hung in the basement, but I'm going to use the frame above the bed in the guest room as part of a gallery wall.  I also took a small tray that we already had and spruced that up so guests have somewhere to place little items without worrying about then rolling away.  Finally, I started going through boxes of stuff that have been in the guest room closet since we moved in.  Clearly, I don't need most of these items.  I've only gone through 1 box so far, but I would say 75% of the items in there will either be donated or sold at a yardsale, 20% of the items were trash, and 5% were things I'd like to keep.  Now, if I can just do that with the other 8 boxes in there and the plastic bins and the drawers of the dresser that's in there.  Yeah, that closet is JAM PACKED.

So, more to come.  Hopefully with pictures and such.  :0)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Famly not-so-Friday: GG-Uncle Edward

Well, keeping with how things have been going lately, I'm posting this late.  Today, I'm going to tell you about my Great-Great-Uncle Edward.  He was born in Pennsylvania in 1894, the 7th of 8 children, to a coal miner and his wife.  I don't know much about his young life, but I do know that his mom passed away before his 8th birthday.  According to census records, he worked in the coal mines just like his father and his brothers.  It seems highly likely that he didn't finish school.  He may not have gone to high school at all.  He was drafted into the Army during World War I.

I think these are some of the most interesting photos I found in my grandmother's photos.  He looks SO young too.  I think the last one was taken in France.  I know that he was serving in France in 1918 when his brother Bernard (my great-grandfather) passed away.  I think that must have been really hard for him.  From other things I've seen, he truly loves his family.  How do I know that?  I guess I don't really, but it's a feeling that I get from 3 other items I have: a postcard, another photo, and a funeral card.
The picture is of the extended family.  I don't know who everyone in the photo is, but I know that my grandmother and all of her siblings are in the photo.  I believe the other children in the photo are the children of Edward's younger brother and that the other adults are some of his siblings.  Edward is in the middle holding my grandmother's youngest sister.  It looks like this was a fun day and Edward looks so happy to be with his family.  The postcard was written to my grandmother while Edward was serving in the militry.  Finally, there's the funeral card.  I found a few of these among my grandmother's things, but it seemed like she only kept significant ones and she took good care of them.  Edward is one of the people I wish I could ask my grandmother about.  I think she would have great things to say about him.  I don't know much about him, but I know that I'm proud to have him in my family tree.

Projects to tackle this summer

A little over a year ago, Joe and I went and picked up paint for a couple of things we wanted to do around the house.  Everything in our powder room was the same color and I mean everything.  The walls, the toilet, the sink, the baseboards, the inside of the door, the medicine cabinet.  EVERYTHING.  I decided I wanted to paint the largest wall in there a nice gray and the rest of the walls, the ceiling, baseboards, and the inside of the door would all be white.  Oddly enough, once this was done, it brought out a lot more of the colors in the stick down floor tiles the previous owners had put down and I like the floor a lot more now.  We also had plans to replace the lighting, the sink, the toilet, and the medicine cabinet to update the space.

I had already started repainting when I took these
Then, as I've mentioned before, our basement flooded (twice) and everything got put on hold.  We lived with a good portion of our home looking like an episode of Hoarders until about 2 weeks before Christmas.  The end result was a redesigned basement and we love it, but it does mean that a lot of things we planned to do last summer & fall have been on hold for a long time.  While the guys were doing the basement, they did replace the toilet in the powder room and in the last few weeks we've picked up a new light, a new fan, and one of those over the toilet cabinets for the powder room so things are moving (slowly) in there.  I still have to pick out the sink and we need to schedule our contractors to come, but we're at a really busy time of year and a lot of our weekend time is booked with family stuff and weddings, but the powder room will be done before the end of the summer.

The guest bathroom upstairs is the same color as the powder room was before I painted.  Don't get me wrong, I understand that they went ahead and neutralized some spaces before putting the house on the market, but they could have picked a nicer beige.  We picked up a soft, warm yellow for the bathroom and it'll go really nicely with the green rugs & white/green shower curtain that we've already added to the bathroom.  Another issue with our guestbath is that the medicine cabinet hangs so far over the sink, it's hard to use so we're going to replace that with a flat mirror and get another over the toilet cabinet for that room.  We're also replacing the light & the fan in here.

The white paint that was used in the powder room was also meant to freshen up the white paint in the stairwell that goes down to the basement.  I'm really glad that I didn't get to painting that before we flooded because with all of the stuff we had to move out of the basement, the demo and rebuilding of the basement, and moving things back down to the basement, those walls got pretty dinged up.  I'm really hoping that all 3 of these painting projects will be complete by the end of the summer.  We're toying with the idea of hiring professionals to tackle our disaster of a backyard and, if we do that, we'll have a lot more time with which to paint (Joe's FAVE thing to do... NOT). 

Another idea that I'm toying with right now is taking the door off the closet in our master bathroom.  When the door into our bathroom is open, you can't even tell that we have a closet in there because it's behind the door.  The door to the actual closet really limits the space available to get things in and out of the closet.  Opening it up and making it more like open shelving would be helpful.  It's going to take some work.  We'll have to paint in there and I'd like to finish off the shelves so they look more substantial, but I'm willing to put in the time and effort for anything that will help make life easier.  I have plenty more ideas floating around in my head, but that's the one I'm th most serious about right now.