Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lesson 7. Don't be Afraid of Colors: Drapery time!

It is very rainy and dreary outside so I decided to try to brighten my mood by starting on my curtain project. I ordered some wonderful silk taffeta, about 42 yards total, to make drapery panels for the living and dining room. I chose a teal color for the living room and this sort of curry gold for the dining room. European fabric is cut on the metric scale so you often end up with 100cm widths (about 40 inches). US fabric generally comes in 45" or 56" widths. So what that means for me is that I will have two lengths of fabric together to get a piece wide enough to make a curtain panel. So that is what I just did.

My lining fabric still has not arrived and neither have my coverable buttons (going to use them as decoration on the pinch pleats), so all I can do at this point is the sewing that only involves the silk. I can probably go ahead and put the bottom hems into the panels because that part won't be sewn to the lining. But as of right now I think I am off for a lunch date. The cats have been carefully stowed in the basement, of course. Kitten learned a tough lesson yesterday that silk is not on the feline food pyramid.

I'm actually going to have lunch with my one friend who hates colors more than anyone I know. Recently we went shopping and I handed her a dress and said, "Oh look! It's your favorite shade of beige!" She agreed and a happy purchase was made. Luckily she has the complexion to carry it off. I'm trying to ward off getting nervous about my bold color choices with these curtains. I always go into people's homes and they've done lovely, calming things by meticulously pairing 12 different shades of taupe in a room. But that's not really my taste, and frankly I don't think it would work in our wacky Victorian four square with its red-orange wood floors. The living and dining room were sort of this brick red color when we moved in, and although I wasn't crazy about the color, I have decided to embrace it. Teal and red seem to be a hot color combination as of late and we have an oriental rug that has brick red flowers and a teal border, so this seemed like a natural choice. In the dining room gold is the predominant accent color, so I thought I would go with a gold curtain and then accessorize with teals and blues to link the rooms. Gold draperies are also more versatile if we decide to repaint in there. So when you see my house and it looks like a crayola box exploded, you'll know that I have a rational explanation for it all.

More later...

It's now after midnight and I have spent the last few hours installing... what else... drapery hardware. Mr. Delta took me to Lowe's after he got home and we shopped for curtain rods for the dining room and living room windows. I can't help but be offended by how expensive drapery hardware is. It's really unbelievable. They wanted $25 for an 8 ft long wooden pole. Seriously? So I did what I always do and walked across the store in search of a creative solution. I found an unfinished wooden rod of the same size for $3.50 and painted it. Unfortunately I couldn't find satisfactory unfinished wall brackets and pole ends (called finials in polite company) so I went ahead and splurged on the overpriced ones.

One of my wooden rods installed and ready to go.
The wooden dowels worked out great and saved me $50.
As I'm doing more home improvement projects, I'm starting to see a pattern in how hardware store wares are priced and marketed. The things that women buy (closet organization, decorative accessories, etc) tend to be really, really overpriced and there is often a much cheaper version of the exact same thing available in another department of the store but sans shiny packaging. Example - a 4 ft length of "Closet Maid" melamine shelving is $18 in the closet organization department, but an 8ft length of exactly the same thing is only $7.50 if you walk over to the construction materials department. This irritates me. It's so clearly an attempt to take advantage of women when they're out of their element. But not me.

Hopefully tomorrow the lining will arrive so I can finish putting the curtain panels together. The buttons won't be here until Saturday probably, so that would be the earliest the curtains can actually go up. Can't wait!


Rod installed on right side of bay window.
 I still need to paint the bracket platform I added.

We are now into day two of the curtain-stravaganza. I just installed the curtain rods in the dining room, which turned out to be a bit challenging because of the angles of the bay window. I wanted the rod to extend far enough into the center of the window that the fabric would flank the outsides of the frame, and that meant building a little platform to sit on the edge of the angled in window. Seems like it worked.

Making the bracket platforms out of triangles of wood.
I measured the angles of the walls and
cut the wood with my miter saw accordingly.

The lining for the curtains still has not arrived, which is irritating because it was only coming from Atlanta. According to the tracking, they sent it to South Carolina, and now, presumably, it's on its way to Nashville. I've learned just not to ask when it comes to USPS parcel post. Crossing my fingers that I can get the curtains all finished tomorrow so I can move on to my next big adventure.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lesson 6. Invest, Enlighten: Bedroom Chandelier Project

As I am writing this I recognize the familiar sound of hammering coming from our bay window in the next room. That can mean only one thing. Howard is here. Howard is a good handyman and a very wonderful person. His involvement with this house predates us by at least a decade, so we keep him around for repair projects that I can't or don't want to do. Unfortunately, Howard is hard to get these days. He is busy with a bit of legal trouble (someone else's fault, not his). When he does manage to make it over to our house, I always make sure to lend a sympathetic ear.

Ceiling fan in our bedroom. Ick.

I thought these (and their ilk) were a little bit small for the
price, and the chandelier itself didn't look amazing, so
I'm making something similar out of materials I like better.

Today I am hoping I can co-opt dear Howard to help me with something. Our bedroom has a really boring white ceiling fan and I've wanted to change it for months now, especially since I spruced up the master bath. I found a really neat chandelier with a black shade which piqued my interest, but I thought, hey, why not use the idea and upgrade. So I ordered a nicer, larger chandelier and a really cool shade to fit it. The chandelier came a week ago and has been sitting in the foyer in a box ever since. According to the UPS tracking site, the shade is finally going to come today so maybe, maybe, maybe I can get Howard to help me hang it today. It's simple enough to change a light fixture, but this one is really heavy and I'd be working at a height of 5 feet off the ground instead of just 2 like I was in the bathroom and closet. Time to call in the pros.

Chandelier from Really an
extremely nice piece. About 16.5" wide.
$190 after coupon.

This is the shade I chose. 18.5" in diameter, from the Thomasville Noir collection, also co-branded under Progressive Lighting's label. Available at among other places. About $63.

Back now. Bad news. Howard left without so much as saying hello, so I didn't get a chance to ask him to help me with the chandelier. I guess it doesn't matter because the shade still isn't here yet. And my trainer just called to cancel so now I have nothing to do this afternoon. Except for maybe the million things that I need to finish doing. Time for a preview:

Option 1:
I've been working on the kitchen. Added a few letterpress paper panels and made some curtains. I need to hem the curtains and re-hang them. I also need to paint the crown moulding in the kitchen. Kind of hoping Mr. Delta will do that though.

Option 2:
I ordered some silk to make curtains for the living room and dining room. I could go ahead and seam the silk although the lining fabric hasn't come yet.

Option 3:
Bathe kitten. I have a 3 month old kitten and he is absolutely covered in paint and sheetrock dust from all of my projects. He is currently trying to drink water out of my hair (just got out of the shower). 

Option 4:
Go to gym and exercise anyhow. Yuck!

Option 4.1
Go downstairs and exercise on my elliptical. Yuck.

Option 5
Buy curtain rods and other supplies I need for the curtains.

Decisions, decisions.

Oh. and Option 6:

I almost forgot. One of my more "plugged-in" girl-lawyer friends has informed me that there is some sort of big party for L.A.W. which is a women's lawyer association. It's in 2 hours. Not sure how exactly I would field the inevitable preliminary post-introduction question. "So where are you working?" Might be a little dicey.

Lesson 5. Creativity Pays: Wainscoting on the Cheap

How to install wainscoting panel trim 

 A wainscotted dining room
So, as I mentioned before, I had this fantasy of putting fancy wainscot paneling in our dining room. I knew I wanted to try to do it myself so I looked online to see what it would entail. I found some really neat prefabricated kits, but they were literally around $30-$40 a foot which seemed completely unreasonable to me. So I went into creative solution mode.

                                  1st idea:
I thought to myself, what looks like the little prefabricated panels they are trying to sell me? Answer - cabinet doors. So I found a place online (Lakeside Moulding) that sells custom size doors up to 36" square for a flat price of $10.50, which would have brought the materials to about $320 including shipping. This seemed like a good deal, but after I got to thinking about it, it would be a lot of work to prime and then paint them and it was going to be pretty expensive to ship them even though they are only produced about 350 miles away. On top of that, they were 3/4" thick which would normally be ok, but I didn't want to have to remove my base board to install these so I really needed something thinner that would match the profile of the top of the baseboard when installed on the wall. Mr. Delta also expressed a preference for a raised square rather than a recessed one. 

Base cap, crown moulding, a strip of Lauan,
and a sample of Coronado chair rail
2nd idea:
After scrapping the cabinet doors idea, I decided to delve a little deeper. What if I started from scratch with a thin piece of paneling wood, some Coronado chair rail (love it! $4.99 at Lowe's) and some wider trim for the top? Once again, Howard the Handyman saves the day in my materials quest. After recommending Lauan (a thin, smooth wood underlayment that comes in 4'x8' pieces) as the wood paneling choice, Howard was kind enough to go fetch my wares from out local Lowe's. Earlier that day I popped into my beloved building materials closeout store and picked up a couple of pieces of narrow crown molding that matched the wide crown I used for the whole house. Normally you wouldn't want crown for this because it has edges that bevel in so you can put it where the wall joins the ceiling, but I figured if I added a little piece of base cap on the top and sat the bottom over the Lauan, it would work fine. So Howard had 4 sheets of Lauan ($9.97 each) cut into 29" long strips for me and brought me 16 pieces of Coronado Chair rail and about 44 feet of base cap in 12' and 8' lengths ($.85 a foot). I did a little planning and assembled my materials down stairs.

Side view of crown moulding. The angled in edges are
actually ok for this project because the bottom will sit on the Lauan and the base cap will sit on top.

Figuring out the total height of the project was easy. Wainscoting should be done in proportion to your ceiling height, and 36" is standard for standard 8-9' ceilings. Since our ceilings are 11', I decided to go with 42", which was, incidentally, exactly waist high on my very tall husband. Yay! External validation! So that's how I ended up with the 29" strips. 42" - 8" base board - 5" top moulding width = 29".

 I measured all of the wall lengths very carefully and went about deciding how big the rectangles needed to be. I knew I wanted a vertically elongated rectangle, so I started by figuring out how much space I wanted between the squares and between the edge of the Lauan. I decided on 4.5", which left me rectangles 20" in height. Figuring out the width, however, was tricky. When you're trying to do wainscoting, you ideally want to cover wall space with a certain number of basically equal size rectangles, since it would be funny to have a tiny one at the end to cover a leftover space.  This was a job for..... MATH!

(deep breath)

So i figured out a formula to represent how many squares of a certain size could go on any given length of wall. I started with an idea of 15" wide just to see how that would work. I knew I would probably have to adjust up or down to make them fit on the different walls.

wall length = certain # of (panel width 15 + space width 4.5) + one extra space width for the end 4.5
So what that means is I subtracted 4.5 from all of my wall lengths then divided by 19.5 to see what I would get. The goal was not to get a remainder at all. On the first wall, I figured out that 20.75 gave me 8 panels with no remainder. Thus 16.25" wide panels. On the next wall 19.75 gave me 6 panels with no remainder, so 15.25" panels. And on third major wall, 21.25" was the magic number, so 16.75" panels there. I filled the 3 small wall spaces the same way. Then down to the basement to make the cuts.

After laying out all of my trim I made all of the cuts for the frames and labeled them with a pencil. This took quite a long time, but it was pretty easy. Just basic 90 degree angle cuts. And because the trim was symmetrical top to bottom, you don't end up with a bunch of wasted triangles. The leftover angle from on cut makes the angle for the next cut.

Then I measured my wall width at 42" up, just to be sure, and cut the upper trim (narrow crown moulding plus the base cap) accordingly. Once everything was cut, I brought it all upstairs and started my installation.

I nailed on the Lauan first. This was pretty easy, although I learned you really need to hammer the nails in at a bit of an angle or they will pull out of the drywall. Mr. Delta offered to buy me a nailgun for this project, but I didn't really want one. They're really loud and kind of scary. And about $400 for a good cordless one. I'm sure I'll get there, but I'm just not ready to make the plunge quite yet. So I nailed everything by hand. Nailgun is actually looking appealing now. It's a lot of work to have to go back and "sink" all of the finish nails below the wood surface ( you have to hit them with a larger nail).

After I got the Lauan on the wall, I made sure there was no "wiggle" in the seams, then I filled the cracks with putty and sanded. Next, I had Mr. Delta prime the surface with 2 coats of flat white paint and a foam roller (smooth roller is very important!). Then I added on the crown moulding and base cap to the top and used painters caulk in the seams between all the connecting pieces (base cap, crown, Lauan, baseboard). Finally, I measured with a laser level and marked where the panel frames would go. Then I nailed them all on, filled the holes and cracks with caulk, and we were ready to paint. I opted for 2 coats of semi-gloss in an off-white color to match the other trim in the room.

And finally, finally, finally! I am proud to announce that as of 2 days ago we are done!

Total cost = $170

"Before" shot of dining room. Pre-crown moulding, pre-wainscotting. The only trim is the baseboard.

Close up of the finished project. See how the Lauan just sits right on top of the base board? And the base cap just sits right on the crown moulding and everything is caulked together.
Dealing with the corner and the bay window was a bit tricky. I just decided to wrap the trim around the bay window corner and bring it to meet the frame.  To do this you have to figure out what your angle is (145 degrees here) then subtract from 180 and divide by 2. So 17.5 degrees was what the cut was to make the trim wrap like this. 
This is how I dealt with the bay window. I've seen it done where the paneling is actually done below the window and brought up in between the windows, but I think it ends up looking like a Poseidon trident more often than not. So I decided just to keep it clean and showcase the window. I'm going to be making some silk panels to flank the window, so I think it will be a great effect when I get it all done.

I'm desperate for a new chandelier though (to match my new fancy walls, of course!) I love this one, (Delilah Collection from Crystorama) but the $900 price tag is a bit off-putting. Maybe I can wait for a coupon code. What do you think? Worth it?



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lesson 4. Dinner is Served: Two Original Recipes

Tonight Mr. Delta has requested that I make Beef Bourguignon for dinner. Sounds fancy, but it's actually just beef stew. I think I will also make one of my signature berry tarts. So good!! I will share the recipe in a bit.

I cannot stress enough the value of being able to cook. Especially for anyone out there who is looking for that special someone. Yes, guys need to know how to cook too. True story - Mr. Delta can trace the exact moment he fell in love with me. We had been dating exactly 8 days and I ran into him in the law library at about 10:00 in the morning. I was hungry and I asked him if he wanted to come over to my apartment for eggs benedict. Exactly 53 minutes later he told me he loved me for the first time over hollandaise and we got married 2 years after that. Very effective technique, eh?

Anyway, so I never make stew. Or beef really for that matter, but I figure there is only so much Atkins brand low carb penne pasta you can feed to a man before he starts to lose all dignity. So I am going to make a concession. This stew apparently has to cook for several hours, so I am going to start prepping now.
I love this product more than anything. You cannot tell it from ordinary pasta and the nutrition is phenomenal. I buy it by the case online just so I can give it to my friends.  It will change your life.

And I'm back. The beef dish has to cook for about 2-3 hours so I started on it first. I used about a pound of sirloin cut into cubes and browned it in the fat left in the pan after I cooked 6 slices of cut up bacon and moved the bacon to the side. Special thanks to the butcher at Publix who actually took a huge hunk of sirloin roast and cut it up for me (and offered to sharpen my knives if I brought them in!)

Then I took a small onion, a big handful of baby carrots, and a celery stalk and cut them up into medium sized pieces and sauteed them in the pan after removing the meat and putting it in a casserole dish.

Then you take a tablespoon of flour and toss it around on the meat until evenly coated. Once the veggies are cooked, add them to the coated meat. Add salt and pepper. Pour on about 2 cups of beef stock and 2 cups of red wine until the mixture is just covered. Add in 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and stir. Put in the oven covered at 325 degrees for 2.5-3 hours.

So the beef bourguignon is in the oven now, so I started on the berry tart. I used blueberries since they were on sale. The recipe for the tart is something I just kind of made up. I'm not really a measurer when it comes to recipes, but I tried to note the quantities as I put them in this time. 

I love using cake mix in recipes. It has great flavors and leavening and is made with wonderful flour, and if you use it as an ingredient instead of as the whole show, it doesn't taste like a mix. So here's what you do. Get 2 bowls and put your berries in one and use the other to make the dough.

Taste your berries. Hopefully they are very tart. You want really tart berries. And you will need 12-16 oz. If they aren't very tart, add a little lemon juice. If they are, add 1-2 tsp water to coat. Then add about 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Toss around until coated and set aside.

Now take 1 cup white cake mix, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup salted butter and cut with a pastry cutter or fork until it makes jelly bean sized crumbles. The butter should be firm when you start, but not ice cold. Add a dash of salt if you only have unsalted butter. You can also add a healthy shake of cinnamon if you like.

Layer half of the crumbles into a shallow metal tart pan, press down, and bake for about 8 minutes at 400 until golden. Then add the berries and top with the rest of the crumbles. Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes until bubbly in the center.

Ready to go in the oven!

Now back to the beef! When it's almost ready to come out of the oven, take about 8 oz of mushrooms and 1 small chopped onion and braise them in some butter. I served the stew with gnocchi, so I cooked them and then put them in the pan to braise at the last minute. Layer mushrooms and onions on top of the stew. Plate, serve, and put your tart in the oven.

The finished tart. Let cool a bit and it will be firmer when you serve it. I like to serve a la mode with a little caramel sauce. The crust caramelizes from the double cooking. Yum!!!

Dinner was a great success! First time we used our wedding china and our newly functional uncluttered dining room.


Lesson 3. If they can do it, so can I: How I Built a Wall

 I have always strived to be able to do things for myself. When I want to do something, I want to do it right then and I don't want anything to stand in my way, even if that thing is not knowing how to do the thing I want to do. So needless to say I have picked up a lot of random skills over the years. But the idea of actually building (nails, wood, saws - eeek!!!) has always intimidated me. After learning to cut crown molding and becoming comfortable with using the electric saw (and ladies, if there is a girl-friendly saw out there, it's definitely the miter saw) I finally decided that it might be time for me to face my fears with a small construction project that I have been tossing around the windmills of my mind for a few weeks now.

Floorplan of living and dining rooms

This is how it all began. When I started this project, all I wanted to do was add some simple wall frames in our living room.

Wall frames in the living room. I chose a simplified style and just did one frame sized to fit 13" in from the outer parameters of the wall space.
This turned out to be a problem, however, because our living room and dining room are set up as semi-separate rooms, which drives me nuts because, among other things, you end up having to paint them both the same color because there is no real dividing wall. But in this case, the problem was that there was no way to put frames on the common wall because there is no stopping point between the two rooms. So we had a frameless wall which looked funny. On top of that, I really wanted to try to put in some waist high wainscot paneling to dress up the dining room, but once again, because the common wall had no inter-room divider, there was no point at which you could stop the paneling. So one day our handy man was over fixing a window and I asked him what it would take to build a tiny little dividing wall between the two rooms. He told me, "Hmm... a few 2x4's and some drywall. I bet you could do it yourself, Juliet." I didn't really take him seriously at first, but somehow later that afternoon my car just sort of mysteriously started steering its way over to Lowe's and the next thing I knew I was loading 4 8" long 2x4's and a sheet of drywall cut into fourths into the the back of my coupe.  I could not exist without my fabulous fold-down seats. Thank you, German engineering.

Plan to add the new dividing wall

So, as instructed, I plotted the place on the wall where I wanted my new wall to go. I measured and decided it needed to be 6" thick and 25" wide to match the other wall segment. I took the 2x4's and basically made what looked like a ladder 24" wide and almost as tall as the ceiling. Using the stud finder, I figured out where the studs were in the wall and used long screws to attach the frame to the wall. Then I took my drywall sheets (conveniently already 24" wide from being split at Lowe's to fit in my car) and screwed them onto the frame. Some of them had to be cut more, but it was  really very easy. All you do is get a knife and a straight edge and make a little score, then you can fold it and it breaks clean. Cut the backing paper on the other side and you're ready to go.

Half constructed wall. What a mess.

Once I had all the drywall on, I filled the seams with drywall putty and sanded. Then I replaced the crown molding and baseboard sections and painted the whole thing. Viola! I made a wall!!! Can you believe it? And now we have 2 rooms - not just a uniroom!

Picture of the new separating wall looking from the living room into the dining room. The other wall segment is just peeking out at the upper right edge of the photo.  The dining room wainscoting has already been installed in this picture, but I actually put it in right after the wall was completed. Details on that in my next post!!!

Lesson 2. Change your home, change your life: Master Bath Makeover

There is nothing in the world that makes me happier than making things. I love to build, create, invent, whatever. In law school you read a lot of essays that try to prove how lawyers add value to transactions. This always struck me as odd. Shouldn't value added be obvious? I think that's why I prefer building and making over lawyering.  At least when you look back on your hard work, there is something concrete looking back at you.  I don't know many first year associates who can say they feel that way after spending 8 hours crafting a complex memo only to have it trashed by a partner after a 47-second summary glance.

I really threw myself into planning our wedding and I was so scared that I was going to be depressed once I was no longer spending 16 hours a day steeped in marital minutia. But that has not turned out to be the case. Lately I've been doing a lot of work on the house.  I'm posting some photos of some of my current projects, but first, here's the story of how I got started.

Master bathroom "au naturel"
Above is a "before" picture of the master bathroom looking into the walk-in closet. When we bought our house, one of the only really disappointing things was the closet - a wire rack mess with icky carpet floors. Mr. Delta had the closet fitted out for me right before we got married as bar-taking present. We hired a handyman to come over and install hardwoods in the closet to match the rest of the house. I ended up helping him a lot and that was the moment I realized that maybe I could so some of this home improvement stuff myself. 

The only problem with having a beautiful closet was, as I found out, the fact that it made the bathroom (a blah almond colored box) look unworthy by comparison. I recently decided it was time for a change and decided to go bold with black and white. I had a hard time convincing Mr. Delta that painting anything black was a good idea, but he finally caved when I showed him how little wall space would actually be black considering the stark white of the doorways, window, shower, tub, and vanity. I chose Lincoln Cottage Black in satin finish by Valspar and embellished with some framed panels. The insides of the panels are cut from a sheet set I got at TJ Maxx several years ago that I have used for various fabric projects. The frame rail is from Lowe's (Coronado chair rail). It's $4.99 per 8ft section. As an afterthought, I added some crown molding that I got at a building supplies closeout warehouse. We bought a Ryobi miter saw in December and I've been using that to cut everything. In my opinion, a great $80 investment. I was terrified of it at first, but after seeing our handyman use it to cut some things I decided I could probably cut a few feet of crown molding myself. Very tricky until you get the hang of it. Perhaps worth a tutorial later.

The original lighting fixtures in the bath and closet were awful - literally super-economy single light fixtures. I found a mini crystal chandelier and a matching flush mount on clearance online and refinished both to silver (originally one was white and one was dark brown). I used white acrylic paint and a Krylon silver paint pen from Michael's. I also changed the drawer hardware in the closet to match the new fixtures. I found antique french style drawer pulls online and finished them with the silver paint pen to match the fixtures.

I actually installed the fixtures myself and it's really nothing to be scared of. Read the instructions, but this is generally what you basically need to do:

1) flip the breaker for that room
2) unscrew the old fixture from the ceiling and disconnect the wires connected to the ceiling. Generally there are 2 connected with little orange screw on caps and one connected to the metal part of the ceiling fixture bracket via a little screw (often green)
3) connect the new wires like the old ones were connected and attach new fixture to ceiling
4) turn power back on

The result...

The storage cabinet was a wonderful find because we don't have a ton of vanity space. Only 10" deep so it doesn't get in the way. Got it at for about $180. It's quite well-made although you do have to assemble it.

$57 on sale from Crystorama "Paris Flea Market" collection (used to be dark brown)

What do you think? Definitely better, right? Somehow the black and white seems to capture the art deco style of the house (built in 1908). The whole bathroom update has gotten me kind of excited and I'm starting to think about installing a raised tray in the ceiling. The ceilings are only 8 ft in the bathroom but they are 11 ft in the rest of the house, so I'm thinking it might be a really nice change and would add some drama to the room. I have no idea if I can do this myself. More research will certainly be required. 

Lesson 1. Never apologize: The Making of a J.D. Homemaker

I spent three years in law school and I was miserable for most of it.  I was witty, fresh, and enchantingly erudite when, at the ripe old age of 21, I decided to invest in my future and enroll in a top 15 law school. This was a terrible mistake of judgment.

I will save you the lamentations for now and fast forward about 3 years to the part where my life started to make sense again.  About 6 months ago I realized that I am not willing to waste the rest of my life trying to prove to myself that law school was a good idea. I spent $130,000 on an education that would, in a perfect world, allow me to spend 90 hours a week running on a law firm gerbil wheel so that I can earn enough money to pay off my loans. Fellow LSAT veterans will recognize the fallacy of that plan as one of circular logic. (circular like the gerbil wheel on which you get to effectuate the plan?)

So I graduated from law school, passed the bar, and promptly got married. And this did, in fact, fix the vast majority of my problems. Loans = gone. Stress = gone. Worldly obligations = mostly gone.

Some people (read: my mother) would probably judge me for that.  They would say "Oh what a waste. So talented, so smart. I thought she was really going to do something with her life." But you have to understand this about me: I'm an excruciatingly rational person and I've never bought into that whole line of prepackaged contrarian feminist rhetoric to which we empowered women are supposed to subscribe. They tell you that you have to go out and "make it on your own" and if you don't you're some sort of anachronistic abomination - a failure at modern womanhood. But even if you take their advice and refuse to believe in the Madison Avenue vision of *love* made of rainbows and fluttering hummingbird wings, I think my choice still makes perfect sense. If someone comes along and tells you they want to give you a free house, clothes, food, care, companionship, and a generous stipend and all you have to do is be nice in return, is that really an offer that anyone should turn down on principal?   I mean, where else would the value of me merely existing be worth all of that? This system is really not that sinister if you think about it. And it has the added value of having worked for thousands of years.

A relic of my unfortunate past

People have asked me "So what are you going to do now."

The answer: whatever I want, whatever I can, and whatever needs doing.