Baby, It’s Cold INSIDE

The Gingerbread Diaries

Things have been a mite chilly at the Gingerbread Dollhouse lately, though it wasn’t exactly a huge problem until this weekend.

It started just before Thanksgiving when we noticed that the downstairs heater didn’t seem to be doing much. Turns out it wasn’t doing anything–no heat or even air of any kind. There was a slight cold snap, we tried to call someone to come out, but it was the holiday week and nothing happened. Things warmed up, and it was put on the back burner. Meanwhile, we enjoyed the lowest utility bills we’ve seen in ages.

Sure, there was that one morning I was working on a blog post before work and I kept making typos because my fingertips were numb, but it usually wasn’t that bad.

And then there was a pretty nasty set of temperatures predicted for the end of last week–lows in the 30s and highs in the 40s, freeze warning weather. And we were still sans a functioning furnace.

Todd finally found someone to come out and take a look and it turns out the inducer motor was completely rusted out. And, of course, it wasn’t a part they had in stock so it was doubtful they could get it in before the first of the week. Fortunately, there must have been one nearby because on Friday afternoon there was a tap at the door (sending Duncan into a frenzy) and a stranger telling me he’d fixed the furnace and we could turn it back on.

Let me just point out that people in Thomasville are awfully trusting. I’m not sure that any service person in Tallahassee would have left without me signing something and leaving the bill, much less without collecting payment. But no, I didn’t even get his name. They hadn’t even called Todd to say they’d be coming back out that day.

The point is moot, however, since the furnace isn’t exactly fixed. They may have replaced the rusted motor, but no amount of cajoling could elicit anything more than cold air from the vents Friday night.

Fortunately the upstairs furnace has kept working, so it was slightly warmer upstairs when we went to bed. Saturday morning there was a very noticeable 10 degree difference between upstairs and down, and Todd went out and picked up some space heaters to get us through the weekend. Those and warm socks and blankets made the weekend bearable.

Hopefully, they’ll be able to come back out today and troubleshoot the remaining issue. Chances are it’s something simple–we reset to breaker and did what we thought to do, but there could be a reset button hiding somewhere (like the issue with the water heater from way back)–and we’ll feel silly for not realizing it. As long as we get the heat back on before the next set of cold night. it’s okay with me.

Hope your weekend was warmer than mine!


Trading a Labor Day Cookout for a Hurricane Party

Everyday Adventures

On Monday night I told Todd that part of me wanted to throw an impromptu Labor Day cookout but the other part of me was all “what are you thinking?!” So I asked him which side of me he agreed with, more, and it was the latter. Probably for the best, even if I wanted to keep things low key I’m, well, me and I would end up exhausted afterwards, so yeah.

But now, with Hermine brewing away in the gulf, the weekend might be spent drying out from the rain.

While I am, like most of the locals I know, completely unphased by a tropical storm off our coast, working where I do means that even these smaller disturbances have to be taken very seriously. Contingency plans in case an evacuation is required, preparation for sheltering in place, and notifying the required agencies and so on and so forth. It’s yet another eye opener courtesy of my new employer.

Back when I was 9, Hurricane Kate hit the Florida Panhandle as a Category 2 storm and was the last one to have any significant impact on Tallahassee. We rode out the storm in our trailer, and I was sure I would never be able to sleep that night while Mom was seemingly cool as a cucumber. I remember thinking that it felt like God was just tossing God-sized barrels of water against the different sides of our home before finally falling asleep, and that Mom stayed awake all night. My brothers would have both been under 2 years old, so I don’t think they remember it at all.

The next day, when the eye passed over us, I remember the quiet, but that was, perhaps, the last thing I really registered. We were only without power a couple of days since we lived just off the main east-west street through town, and had a gas stove so we could still cook for ourselves and all. School, however, was closed for a week and we had to make up the time at the end of the school year.

In the back of our neighborhood a small tornado had come through and taken down several trees, though I don’t remember if any homes were damaged.

Since then, the worst we’ve had were soaking rains that caused trees to fall, a few microbursts here and there, and otherwise bad storms, but nothing to really worry about. Schools and some businesses may close, but someone joked today that, well, the schools are closed, that means tomorrow’s going to be a beautiful day. It’s happened more than once.

Such is the atmosphere and attitude that breeds the Hurricane Party mentality. That and a c’est la vie take on life in this part of the country where the storms give you 3 days notice and seldom live up to the hype. Of course, with every storm there’s always a possibility of loss of life or property. So be safe, be smart, and, if you do have the day off because of the weather, stay safe and keep a weather eye out.

12 Days of Blogmas: Signs of the Season

Just for Fun

A common refrain, down here in the South, is how hard it is to get into the Christmas mood when it’s still hot and muggy outside. We usually get a tease of a cold snap in October or November, but there’s just as good a chance we could be sporting shorts on Christmas day as anything else. (Today it’s supposed to get near 80°, for the record, 2 weeks before Christmas.)

So, when we can’t rely on Mother Nature to tell us when the holidays have arrived, what can we be on the lookout for?


The first think I look for is the lights, downtown. Since I still work in Tallahassee I still drive through downtown on my way to and from work and seeing the twinkle lights in the trees on Park Ave. always makes me smile. I think they leave them up all year, of course, but they officially turn them on at the Winter Festival, usually the first weekend of December. Seeing them peek through the leaves while I’m waiting for traffic to move makes me feel all warm and glowy inside.

The next thing is the music. Even though I rebel at listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving (“one holiday at a time” is my mantra), when the local stations start slipping holiday tunes into the rotation (or switch formats completely and only play Christmas tunes) I can’t help but sing along. (Unless it’s Christmas Shoes… that song just needs to go away.) Holiday music is coming up on the 9th day of Blogmas (check back on the 21st) so I won’t go into the songs that are must-plays for me, but the list is long and varied.

One last sign of the season, for me, is the changes that happen at the office. The annual scramble for my coworkers to use up their vacation before the end of the year (we have a use it or lose it policy), the murmurings of when we’ll be closed for the holidays (we’ve got the week leading up to Christmas off, wohoo!), and the ‘don’t forget to do this by the 31st’ notes from our vendors. It’s certainly not a traditional holiday sign for most, but end of the year is a busy time for bookkeepers and it spills over into January and beyond. In fact, as much as I love when we get a week off for the holidays instead of the usual 2 days, the downside is that I still have to accomplish everything I do in a normal month, plus year-end stuff, in fewer days.

Not that I’m volunteering to work that week! My happy butt will be at home finishing up Christmas presents and baking and the paperwork will just have to sort itself out when we get back on the 28th!

Do you have any non-traditional signs of the holiday season?


The 12 Days of Blogmas is a link-up hosted by The Coastie Couple and The Petite Mrs. Check out either of their blogs to see what everyone else has to say on today’s topic!

The 12 Days of Blogmas is a link-up hosted by The Coastie Couple and The Petite Mrs. Check out either of their blogs to see what everyone else has to say on today’s topic!

The Bloom Is Off The Rose

The Gingerbread Diaries

No, we’re not suffering from buyer’s remorse or anything like that, but this past weekend hit the back-and-forth wall and decided not to bother. The novelty is gone after two months of traipsing up to the Dollhouse to sleep on an air mattress in the living room* and get a few hours of work done before packing our things back up (and hiding what’s staying from the contractor’s crew**) and driving back to Tallahassee to try and accomplish something with the rest of our Saturday when, really, we’re just too tired from the back and forth to get much of anything done.

It made me tired just to type that out.

So we bailed this past weekend and didn’t go up to the Dollhouse. We slept in on Saturday. We relaxed. And we packed up the Library so we’ll be tripping our way around a cardboard jungle for the next 2 weeks or so.

This is maybe half of the library boxes...

This is maybe half of the library boxes…

Never underestimate how much space you save by storing on the vertical!

I left a total of two cookbooks unpacked: one is the Mug Recipes book I reviewed a while back that we may be cooking out of once the kitchen goods start heading box-ward. The other is a book I still need to review sometime soon. There’s a few tchotchkes still to wrap and pack, but otherwise the library/living room is done.

What order do you pack a house up? I’ve always done books first, kitchen last, with the other areas being packed by layer of necessity. Most moves also involve grabbing my clothes still on their hangers from the closet and just laying them across the backseat and filling the trunk with shoeboxes on a last trip, along with the computer in the passenger seat. I foresee this habit continuing with the upcoming move.

And when will that move happen? Good damn question.

We’re hoping for the 28th for a variety of reasons, the least of which being that it suits my record-keeping to move at the half-year point so we can have a clear demarcation for tax purposes: 50% Florida residents, 50% Georgia residents. It doesn’t hurt that Todd will have a good part of the following week off from work and it’s better to use that time settling in, clearing the Tallahassee house than still packing and waiting. Not to mention who wants to move on a holiday weekend if we have to push it a week, right?!

Of course, all that depends on the contractor finishing the painting. If the weather holds out, that could be end of this week/early next week, but there’s a chance of rain pretty much all this week so we’re at Mother Nature’s mercy right now. When I first started haunting weather reports last week, this week was supposed to be rainy and the following week clear, so we at least had that chance, right? But now next week is looking dicey, too, so who knows when the house will get painted at this rate.

Oh, how I'm glad we never really considered white as a color for the Dollhouse!

They did at least get the primer coat on and, well, let’s just say I’m so very glad we never even considered painting the house white for real.

Couldn’t we move in if that’s all they have left to do? Yes and no.

Yes, because we own the house and we can do pretty much whatever we want to it, including putting our belongings inside and taking up residence. No, because the current homeowner’s insurance is a rehab policy and is not intended for contents or occupancy.

Why don’t you change over the policy, then, you’re probably asking me. Because to get the best rate (or, hell, even options other than the state-sponsored coverage) the painting needs to be all-but done so that the insurance agent can take the required pictures to shop us around.

So we’re in limbo. As we’ve been for–oh, hey, in 2 days it’ll be 6 months from when we put in the original offer on the Dollhouse! And we’re still not done with this Catch-22 foolishness.

Just a few more weeks…

In the mean time, here’s what else is on our to-do lists before moving in:

  • Replace the downstairs bathtub faucet (waiting on special cone-shaped washer, on order, hopefully will arrive soon)
  • Have upstairs AC unit checked out/repaired (it’s not being super-efficient at the moment, so sleeping downstairs might just continue after we’ve moved in as it will be, you know, July and all)
  • Clean out supply-lines for downstairs bathroom faucets
  • Mow the back yard (that’s all Todd)
  • Clean the wood floors (I’m sure we’d love to refinish them before moving in, but with time growing short, a good cleaning will have to do for now; I have a feeling most will just need a hit with the orbital sander before being sealed, anyway, not a full belt sander treatment)
  • Wash down the kitchen and fixtures
  • Shop for a new dishwasher (there’s either no water supply to the current one or it’s just broken, and we’re betting on the latter)
  • Purchase and install water filters (local water tastes kinda bad, and we drink a lot of tap water)

*Why are we sleeping in the living room? Because at first the upstairs bath needed repair and I was a bit concerned about having to traipse downstairs in the middle of the night, not being used to a 2-story house and all.

**Why do we feel the need to hide our things from the work crew? After the roof went on we came up to the house to find someone had commandeered a brand new pair of work gloves Todd left on the table, ruining them in the process. Then I found one of the bath towels I’d brought up that first weekend had been removed from the shelf, used to wipe up something heinous and dark (the towel started off as a light-peach color) and gritty, and then was wadded up, wet, and left stashed in the hall closet. Charming right? They also used up every freaking paper product in the house and, well, we figured since they can’t police themselves, we will remove temptation!