This is a test post, playing with the WordPress app. Topher and I went for a very foggy walk in Glen Canyon today.


In the “actions speak louder than words” department, I think it’s safe to say that I don’t have much energy to maintain Foghill Modern anymore. Maybe it’s that it’s much less compelling for me to write about a place once I am living in it (again), or maybe it’s that after 10 months I just don’t have as much enthusiasm to write about the same subject, or maybe I am more inclined to write about construction than design… Or a combination of these. Or none at all. Who knows?

So I’m simply taking a moment to acknowledge the obvious and to share some news: we closed on a second property yesterday! And I’m thinking maybe this new place will provide a new font of creativity and over-sharing that Foghill once was.

This is very typical behavior for me: start a new project before the last one is finished. So while I continue to ponder finishing touches for our primary residence in the big city, I’ll also be heading down to Lowe’s to pick out new flooring for our country place.

So where is this little slice of heaven anyway? In an unincorporated part of Amador County called Fiddletown. That’s not a joke. It’s 50 miles southeast of Sacramento, 50 miles southwest of Kirkwood, and 30 miles due south of Placerville.

In other words, the middle of nowhere.

But for those of you familiar with the fleeing-the-city weekend traffic, the good news is that the only stretch of Highway 80 you need to need to take to get there is the Bay Bridge. The rest of the journey snakes through the Delta Region, through Lodi, then up Highway 88. It’s 2.5 hours door-to-door without traffic. Fiddletown is in the heart of the Shenandoah Wine Region, otherwise known as poor man’s Napa Valley (not really – I made that up). All kidding aside, the valley is stunning. And far enough from San Francisco that the tourists don’t go there. At 1,600 feet elevation, it’s close enough to snow to spend a day skiing, but will only on very rare occasions actually snow at our place. Perfect.

Right after Christmas we’ll tow the Airstream up there (yes, ladies and gents, the property has full RV hookups – major bonus) so we have a place to sleep (and permanent guest house) while we take measurements, seek local handyfolk to help paint the place and install new floors, and raid the Walmart in Jackson for the essentials.

So, stay tuned for updates from the footlhills. In the meantime, I need some help naming the new blog. Suggestions welcome, and there may even be a prize for the winning submission. Something awesome from “The Heart of the Mother Lode.”

Since moving in 3 weeks ago, we had a wonderful visit from Josh’s parents and both of us have had to travel out of state for work. I am off again Sunday for nearly a week, to the great state of Indiana. All this to say that the unpacking and general nesting has come to a grinding halt. One or two contractors were in our house every day starting at 8:00am, working through their own punch list, so there was stuff going on, but frankly for us it was more in the nuisance category than anything else.

Today is the first day I am working from home with no “company” – it’s lovely. Monday is the final inspection, which is a huge milestone. After that we start tackling OUR punch list, and switching over to a less expensive handy man to help with finish items like hanging curtain rods and bathroom mirrors. We still have a ton to do and are trying to accomplish the bulk of the most visible work by Thanksgiving – esp. the exterior walkway, painting, and landscaping. I don’t think this means that we will have outfitted closets, but maybe we will get to unpacking and furnishing the office by then?

Back to work.

I have a little window of time here between a work conference call and meeting up with Josh’s parents to head down to the ballpark (go Giants!) so I thought I would share a few photos of the upstairs now that we’ve managed to junk them up like real people. Let’s start with action central: the kitchen.

Some highlights:

– The fixture over the dining table. A nightmare to install, but that’s what you hire pros for. It looks so incredible and will look even better once we commit to this height, cut the cables, and patch that junction box cover so you can’t see it any more. Why that’s there is a long story, not at all worth telling here; suffice it to say we had to come up with a workaround and it all turned out fine.

– The hole above the refrigerator. The replacement cabinet arrived from Viola Park yesterday; the new door will be shipped by the end of the week. So soon we will have one full cabinet up there which means I’ll have to find a new home for the 2 baby blue cast iron pots.

– Heath in the niches. A little hard to see, but there are three new Heath ceramics vases in the island niche that faces the living room. I have previously expressed my adoration of all things Heath; yesterday we made a trip to the factory and store in Sausalito where Josh’s folks bought these for us as a housewarming gift. So lovely – they look perfect there.

– All the stuff on the island. Good to know that this has, as expected, become the ideal place to plop whatever is in our hands when we come into the house. Hey, at least we know where our stuff is.

A better view of the piles on the island; but, better yet, the way the light fixture looks when you enter the kitchen, and when you stand at the cook top. It’s pretty wonderful.

Moving on to the media room now.

This is essentially the view as you walk in from the hallway. Dig the aluminum foil on the arm, eh? This is a tactic we’re trying to discourage the kitties from using all of our new sofas as scratching posts. Apparently they really do not like the way the foil feels, and learn to avoid the whole thing even after you take it off. We’ll see…

This room represents a great blending of new pieces and items we already owned. New: sofa, jute rug, cowhide (all IKEA). Old: side table (Heywood-Wakefield), lamp, butterfly chair, ottoman (which is temporary as we feel something round is a better option here), light fixture (Jonathan Adler), knick-knacks (Native American pottery from trips to New Mexico, Taino objects given to us as wedding gifts from Josh’s mother’s best friend, a box of sand from Broome, Australia, and a little day of the dead couple Josh and I bought on the day he proposed here – in other words, all of these things have a lot of significance to us).

An alternate view from inside the room. Here you can see the Room and Board cabinet we bought to house all the electronics, plus the old bowls, vases, and bizarro door threshold I used to create a vignette to make up some of the space between the cabinet and TV. The white books in the space came from our wedding table centerpieces; the white cube ottomans are also things we already had. And the wool blanket there was knit by my very own mother. It’s perfect in this room.

So it’s definitely starting to come together. It’s super comfortable, great for watching TV, and can accommodate a whole bunch of people. Next we need to hang some window treatments and get some art on the walls.

We’re super happy with how the upstairs bath turned out.

The light fixture and mirror came from the old master bath – we really liked them both and were so glad to find a new home for them in here. We think the old cabinet door should someday be replaced with something simpler, but it’s fine for now. I’m really on the fence about whether or not to hang a shower curtain. I do think this room needs the softening aspect of textiles (beyond towels), but am not super excited about looking at a curtain rod all the time. Sometimes I think installing a Lucite rod is the answer… thoughts?

The cabinet turned out wonderfully. I like that we kept an open section – not sure towels are the permanent display option. I also still need to find drawer pulls.

I intentionally left out the office, which is still chockablock with moving boxes – we’ll tackle that project in early November. I leave for a work trip tomorrow; as soon as I get back, Josh is off for work travel for a couple days. That’s OK – some breaks from this now and again are essential to re-energizing us for the next phase. Moving in was a huge accomplishment, but by no means does it indicate we’re done.

Major milestone

Nothing says “this is no longer a construction site” like the removal of the porta-potty.

Here comes the truck!

Onto the lift it goes.

Goodbye! And good riddance.


Moving Day

Amidst the hubbub of moving, I did manage to snap a few photos for posterity.

See? I wasn’t joking when I said we were saddled with the most disgusting truck of the fleet.

Lovely. Chances are pretty good that with an exterior like this, the interior’s in rough shape, too.

Be thankful there’s no smell-o-vision on the Interwebs yet; the whole cab reeked of years of cigarette smoke and as a special bonus the ash tray was full of ashes and butts and kept falling open as we drove.

We were both pretty disgusted by how much of this truck we managed to fill, though we did comfort ourselves by realizing that “boxes take up a lot of room.” Sure – whatever makes you feel better.

The rest of our earthly possessions arrived about a hour after we did. We love Pat Ryan – hands down the nicest movers around. And, yes, half of our driveway was trenched, thanks to a last-minute water inspector who decided we needed a larger line from the city to our house.

Very little of this is ours; our garage on move-in day was still the primary renovation staging and storage area. And, yes, that’s our washer and dryer, yet to be moved to their new home and hooked up. Still a lot of work to do…

We kept the new sofa protected during the move. Boxes are starting to make their way into the living room,



master bedroom,

and closet.

The good news is that, with the exception of the office and basement we are nearly box-free. After a relentlessly hot week the fog has returned, so the next time the sun makes an appearance I’ll try to take a set of updated photos.

We’ve been moving for the past four days.

Soon I’ll have the time and energy to post photos, but in the interim, a quick recap of our return to city living.

Thursday: Josh picks up the most ghetto (this is a word I do not use lightly, folks – but in this case it totally applies) U-Haul and meets me at the house. The two of us and Topher drive up to Glen Ellen with a stop at our storage unit in Novato to grab the mid-century sofa. With the Giants winning game 1 of the division series on TV in the background, we load up the U-Haul in Glen Ellen, shocking ourselves at how much junk we’d managed to cram into a relatively small guest house over the past 7 months.

Friday: at the crack of 7:20, we pull out of the Glen Ellen driveway and head to our house. It’s a mad dash to unload the truck as the movers (who are arriving with the REST of our crap) are due any minute and there’s not enough room in front for two trucks. In the midst of all of this, I toss Topher in the car and drive him to our overnight dog-sitter, Marianna, so he’s out of our hair for the main event.  We spend all day schlepping, deciding, assembling our new sofa, and feeling like crazy hoarders watching box after box come into the house. Tommy and Shawn show up at noon with 6 large pizzas and cake for us, the crew, and the movers – everybody’s psyched. Everything that used to, or could, go into the garage ends up in the basement because the garage is the main Caruso staging area. The basement becomes full. At 5:00 we take turns showering in the bathtub since the actual shower is off limits due to not-quite-dry-yet-paint in the master bath. At 5:30 we are at Mission High School, picking up our friend Eric and his daughter for Game 2 of the Giants/Braves series. Giants blow a 3-run lead in the 8th inning and proceed to lose the game in the eleventh. Awesome.

Saturday: I honestly can’t remember what we did Saturday morning. Oh – we headed down to 24th Street to get reacquainted with our favorite latte and bagels. Oh yeah – and then we came home and started working in the master closet: assembling clothes racks and temporary shoe storage. During this time my phone rings; it’s our neighbor from across the street, offering us some extra cream puffs from a get-together the night before. What a welcome home! Then it’s time to go get Topher. Around 11:00am our reinforcements arrive: Mom, Tommy, and Tommy’s brother Drew. Mom and I get to unpacking the kitchen while Tommy, Josh, and Drew tackle the basement. We manage to get rid of ALL of the kitchen boxes, get a Container Store list started; the boys clear floor space in the basement. We celebrate our accomplishment with a trip to Amici’s for more pizza — or, in some cases — pasta. Josh and I come home, test out the master shower (amazing!) and collapse.

Sunday: More lattes. Due in Glen Ellen for Mom’s meatloaf at 2:00pm (and to pick up the cats and a vehicle) we planned backwards to enable us to move some extra furniture up to Novato and also stop at Crate and Barrel for new dishes and the Container Store for a whole bunch of stuff. At one point we were ahead of schedule, but then became delayed and didn’t arrive for meatloaf until nearly 3:00. The meal was just what the doctor ordered – hearty, filling, tasty; it was followed by some good old fashioned plopping in front of the TV to watch the Giants win game 3. Before we could leave we had to clean up after the cats and do a sweep of the house to grab anything we forgot on Friday morning. The drive back to the city was smooth, save for the stop about 30 minutes in to clean up after Rocket, who barfs EVERY time we put her in the car. A little bit of kitty-proofing and set-up and it was time to bring the felines inside. Of course they had to spend an hour exploring every single surface; once we went to bed, Bandit was content to lean against me purring like a maniac, while Rocket continued opening doors,  jumping in and out of boxes, and barking from about 3:30 – 5:30am.

Monday: Brrring! The alarm goes off at 5:30am for our shameful return to Bootcamp after a seven-month hiatus. Boy, what a rude awakening; this morning was the standard start-of-session assessment, featuring a timed mile and a half up-and-downhill run. Nice to know that a seven-month break brings me right back to square one with a run time exactly where it was when we started for the first time, back in January 2009. Oh well. At least now I know exactly what kind of slug I became and it’s all good from here. Today was also Topher’s first outing with his new dog-walker, Mac, so I volunteered to work from home today so I could do the hand-off and be home when he was dropped off (such a sacrifice, I know). Topher tends to be a pretty nervous and barky little fellow so it’s going to be a fun negotiation for the next few weeks as our house fills up with painters, electricians, cabinet makers, etc. to actually finish the job.

Maybe he’ll spend his time out on the deck like he did this afternoon,

or maybe passed out on his sweet new Snoozy, where he is right now.

So this morning was spent fine-tuning the kitchen storage and peeling about 64 thousand labels off the new dishes. Things are starting to really come together, one box at a time. I just heard the electrician say, “Whoo hoo! The TV’s up.” This, I have to see. They are on a game-time deadline: 4:37pm Pacific it’s game 4!