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Tag Archives: Home Renovation

The Shining

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Image credit: The Shining, 1980

I always thought the scariest place a person could be is in The Overlook Hotel with a murderous Jack Nicholson and a whole bunch of angry ghosts. Not to mention, those hallways of hypnotic carpet patterns! But that was until I made the decision to renovate my home. A decision which has forced me to become trapped, in increasingly smaller spaces, as the days and weeks bleed into one another. Suddenly, this quote from The Shining (Disc/Download) makes so much sense: “A kind of claustrophobic reaction which can occur when people are shut in together over long periods of time.” Let’s just say, I’m looking increasingly vacant-eyed over my keyboard. The dog is calling out to Scatman Crothers.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, The Shining is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, inspired by his own stay at a Colorado resort (the Estes Park Hotel, which I can personally say is quite lovely… in the summer). Jack Torrance (Nicholson) moves his wife and son to a remote hotel for the winter, accepting the job of caretaker. As a writer, he thinks an empty resort will be the perfect spot to work on his novel. However, the ghosts of the hotel have other plans for the Torrance family. Slowly, Jack begins to go mad, while his telekinetic son senses the presence of the hotel’s previous dead occupants. Little Danny has a touch of “the shining”, just as the hotel itself “shines”. There are a lot of hallucination scenes in this, several times involving a bathroom. I too have been hallucinating a bathroom during long stretches of isolation, so this part of the film makes sense to me. When Jack and I dream, we dream of a beautiful, spacious retreat fit for a luxury hotel. My nightmare is that I’m as old as the decaying woman in Room 237 by the time my soaking tub gets installed, but that’s probably just the claustrophobia talking. Surely, my contractor will get his act together by then.

Another dream sequence involves one of my favorite movie bars, host to many glamorous parties throughout The Overlook’s storied history. Lloyd the bartender may have served up a mean Bourbon and Advocaat, but I prefer to take my cocktail cue from Danny. While watching The Shining, I recommend drinking this variation on the Negroni, a Redrum cocktail.


1 oz Dark Spiced Rum

1 oz Campari

1 oz Sweet Vermouth

Blood orange slice

Combine rum, Campari, and vermouth in a mixing tin with ice. Stir until chilled, then strain into a glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with a slice of blood orange.

If you’re not typically a Negroni drinker, this may change your mind. Rum gives the cocktail a sweeter, spicier edge, and I actually prefer this to its gin-based cousin. It’s the perfect drink to toast five miserable months of home renovation, and the irreparable harm it has caused me. Cheers!

The Money Pit

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money pit

Image credit: The Money Pit, 1986

As I embark on my first major home renovation, one image keeps streaming through my head- Tom Hanks, clinging desperately to a staircase, as his house collapses around him. Granted, my project is just a simple kitchen, but it’s still shocking how quickly even the smallest project can become like The Money Pit (DVD/Download). Budget? Double it. Time? Double it. Sanity? Kiss it goodbye.

I was lucky to find a house that didn’t need a lot of initial work when I moved in eight years ago, unlike Tom Hanks and Shelley Long in The Money Pit. They land a bargain on an enormous mansion, only to find that it needs a staggering amount of renovation. Costs spiral as their relationship implodes, and this funny 80’s slapstick comedy becomes a cautionary tale of home ownership. It’s no wonder Shelley Long is basically drunk throughout this process -my own bar is also heavily stocked! Maybe then I won’t care when workers show up late (if at all), or when my house is enveloped in a cloud of dust, or when my savings account dwindles before my eyes. Enough martinis and you can survive anything.

As anyone who’s ever done a home renovation can tell you, the contractor is king.  Actually, he’s like a mythical creature who you pay enormous sums of money to, before waiting around hopelessly for an encore appearance.  The Shirk Bros. embody this archetype perfectly, and that name- spot on.  In ode to their musical tastes, while watching The Money Pit I recommend drinking an I Gotta Bee Me Martini.

I Gotta Bee Me Martini

4 oz vodka

1 oz lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon warm water

Combine honey and warm water in a cocktail shaker and stir it until the honey is dissolved. Add vodka, lemon juice, and ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Bee Martini

This cocktail seems easy enough for me to make while I’m held hostage in another part of the house for a week (or two, or three- we’ll see). Luckily I have a partner who’s in this all the way with me; someone who won’t accuse me of seducing an ex to pay for a new oven. After all, he knows I hate to cook. Cheers!