Happy Housiversary

Today marks six years since that rainy first day we moved into our house. It is only fitting that I finally reappear now to say hello to you, dear readers.

We have done so much to the house that I have chronicled in pictures that are safely stored on my computer but haven’t been shared. And I have tried so many Pinterest tutorials (all successful!) and done crocheting and ventured into baby food making (also successful!) but finding time to post all of it has seemed an impossible task.

I’ve made notes on my calendar countless times reading “update blog” but the reminders come and go. That’s because the past nearly nine months have been consumed by a now 20 pound bundle of joy named Alexandra.

For now I will leave you with my favorite newborn photo of me and her and promise you that one day soon I’ll come back and share with you all the joy that has been going on in my life and my home.

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Rock-a-bye baby…

Our baby girl is due in 9 days which seems forever away right now as we go through a horrible heat wave and I feel about 1,000 months pregnant. Today begins the first day of vacation for me, though. I knew I didn’t want to work up until the last day because I’d be uncomfortable, and thankfully I had plenty of days saved up. Now begins the scramble for the finishing touches on the house but, on a positive note, my bags are packed and the nursery is done!

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Literally. Our bags are packed! Mine is on the left, complete with a bag of snacks. On the radiator are the items that are “last minute, throw them in” like the coming home outfit, The Man’s pjs and socks, a stroller blanket from Pottery Barn that my BF from high school gave us, the quintessential nursing boppy, and a list of “grab this” items like chargers and my iPad.

The nursery was just a general use room before with a futon, all my yarn and crochet accessories, and my Oma’s steamer trunk. Well, the futon was sold and the steamer trunk and crochet paraphenalia found a new home in my office (which I’ll share another time).

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the room before

From day one, I knew that I loved the color of the room and wasn’t going to change it – it’s Valspar’s Wool Coat. It’s a beautiful, rich neutral color that lends itself to a host of complementing colors. Once we found out it was a girl, we also decided to leave the carpet which was a $25 score at an estate sale a few years ago. As I started decorating the room, I realized the carpet was limiting me more than the paint color was, but the room turned out amazing anyway. The valances were one of the first things I purchased at Lowe’s (a glimpse is in the very first pic in the post), inspired by both the carpet and the witches ball which was a gift from my sister-in-law when we first moved in our house. I’ve always loved the way the light hits the brilliant red, and figured it was a good idea to have something hanging to ward off evil.

I love all the stencils and wall decals I see on Pinterest for baby rooms, but didn’t want to repaint the room as she gets older so instead I decided wall art would be the decoration/theme, which ended up being Storybooks.

We were lucky in that we were given a crib by a friend whose daughter had just transitioned to her BGB (big girl bed) and the dresser the previous owners had left in the room had been sitting in our garage for literally 5 years, just waiting to be rehabbed. It had obviously been painted in a hurry with a brush, and the scroll details were aqua and purple – not my taste.

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dresser hell before (I had used the drawers as stands when I was painting something black…)

After a lot of sanding and many cans of spray paint for a glossy finish to match the crib (yes I used a Darth Vader-esque ventilator), the end result was nothing short of fabulous!

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The inside of the drawers even got their own special treatment – they were painted pink and lined. My mother-in-law bought us the most comfortable chair in the world (rocks AND swivels) and the matching ottoman (which is covered in a blanket The Man’s coworker made for us) from Babies R Us. The print above the chair is another nod to Storybooks – Rapunzel! I’ve had the print since I was a teenager and figured it was the perfect home for it. We also purchased the bookcase from Babies R Us. The Man put it together in less than an hour and it’s super sturdy so we’re hoping it lasts for the long haul.

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The shelves are adjustable so as she grows we can use the bookcase for storage AND books. The bins on the bottom hold toys, stuffed animals, and baby medicine essen

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sorry for the cruddy picture – stupid glare from windows

tials. The large white bin which is within arms reach when I sit down holds all the nursing essentials. And of course, she already has a book collection!

Then of course she needs somewhere to sleep. Over her crib we put three prints that her cousins got her off our registry. I found them on Etsy and used simple frames and mats from Michael’s so we can change them out over time.

It took a long time to find the perfect ones but I finally settled on a quote from Little Women, one from Anne of Green Gables, and one from Alice in Wonderland.  And because of the colors and pattern in the carpet, I also agonized over her bedding. I know, I know. The bedding doesn’t matter and they barely ever will get use out of the comforter so who cares? Well, this dork cares. I finally found  an amazing comforter from Land of Nod that is reversable and had a matching dust ruffle that I love. Add in some super soft stuffed animal friends and the sleeping area is baby ready!

We also have one more nod to Storybooks over her dresser and on it in the form of a mirror and another print from Etsy which I loved, with different Alice in Wonderland quote.

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And that’s it! All in all, we were blessed to have furniture and be gifted furniture. It made the whole process of getting the nursery ready so much easier. The room isn’t huge so I knew we had to be practical, and I definitely wanted a room that could grow with her.

We are so very ready for this little girl to arrive happy and healthy and safely.

 

nesting, nesting, and more nesting…

With seven weeks to go I have the overwhelming urge to clean every surface of my house and make sure everything we own has a place to go away. Last Monday, I realized our small(ish) kitchen was woefully ill equipped to house any of the impending baby gear like bottles and the eventual sippy cups and plastic dinnerware that is oh so fancy.

We did have room in our dining room, however, to add a small buffet on an otherwise empty wall. I perused Wayfair and Overstock but most of the buffets or sideboards had open storage, glass fronts, or built in wine bottle racks that we didn’t need. On a whim, I decided to check Craigslist quickly and on the second page of the search voila! The perfect sideboard! It was the right color, the right size, and almost the right price.

I sent an email and asked if it was still available and whether the price was negotiable. Amazingly, within 20 minutes I had an email back saying yes to both accounts! We ended up striking a deal in between what I wanted to pay and the owner wanted to make, and she even agreed to DELIVER! So as of yesterday morning we are the proud new owners of a fabulous new piece in our dining room.

Today I tackled the task of reorganizing half of the kitchen cabinets. I had one in particular that I thought could be better utilized.

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I can’t remember the last time I used martini glasses, and our good china definitely didn’t have to be in the kitchen because I always set the table with it rather than serving from the kitchen on it, so it was easy to figure out what needed to get re-homed. Oh, and I don’t think my Turkey wine glass is going to get used for a few months! The Man helped move everything into the dining room so I wasn’t walking back and forth and tada!

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Everything fit with a LOT of room to spare. I’ll probably get different racks at some point to utilize the space more efficiently, but for now the two shelves got emptied and even found room for plates from another closet. The cool thing is that what looks like drawers is actually a drop down face, so I can put some of our nice platters in there.

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And the major bonus, the wall finally looks complete. We used to just have one of our dining room chairs in that corner but now the corner finally looks finished. To reward all my reorganization efforts, The Man even bought me flowers when he did the grocery shopping tonight. All in all, I’m one happy mom to be! Now to just clean up the nursery…

 

Five Years

Closing Day, May 2011

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since this photo was taken. I don’t know how you begin to summarize what it’s like to realize that in five short years we’ve been through so much.

Five years ago we were essentially newly weds, daring to take on this huge project of restoring a house, creating a life together, making a  home. We are far from done in this house. We’ve ripped out knob and tube wiring. We’ve removed countless feet of tired, dirty carpeting. We’ve scrubbed and sanded. We’ve towed out bushes with the truck. We’ve spackled. We’ve spray painted. Oh, the spray paint! We’ve gutted a bathroom. And we’ve begun to put everything back together again.

And now, in our biggest adventure, we’re bringing new life into the house. In three short months there will be a new little person living in that room that you can see in the top right corner of the photo. Her crib and dresser are in place. She has oodles of clothing already from loved ones that are going to spoil her rotten. We’re already stockpiling diapers and wipes. And I’m already anticipating all the sleepless nights to come, pacing the creaky floors we haven’t refinished yet.

Happy Anniversary, house. Your biggest adventure is yet to come.

The saga of the bathroom

A long, long time ago, in a land far  you may remember me mentioning that we had no second floor bathroom, which is our main bath. Other than that it’s a toilet in a closet in the basement, or the third floor bathroom. I’ve actually been embarrassed about the state of our house for a long time because of this project. Well I figured it was time for an update!

We still have no bathroom.

On December 31, 2013 the saga of this all began with a leak dripping into our center hall, AGAIN, just above the radiator by our front door. The leak was coming from our main bathroom just above. The ceiling was discolored and at the advice of a plumber who had come over when it had leaked previously and couldn’t find anything, we opened up the ceiling so we could see where the drip was coming from. No such luck. The leak happened after we showered, and was sporadic. We couldn’t replicate the issue no matter how many times we filled the tub, ran the shower, jumped in the shower…. nothing. It leaked when it wanted to leak.

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We went back and forth with the same plumber a few times, with him basically telling us he had no idea what the problem was. Fast forward to June 2014 when I was walking Abby and ran into one of our neighbors. We got to chatting and I told him about our issues (because all our houses are built very similarly) and he was like, “Oh, that’s your main stack. It’s gone bad. Call “Plumber X” down the street. He does this work all the time.”

A few weeks later, Plumber X came down and gave us an estimate and asked what our insurance company had said. Insurance? The Man and I had never thought of that, but we were lucky enough to get some compensation for the damage. Because the bad news? The stack is located in the front wall of our house. THE LIVING ROOM WALL and THE GUEST ROOM WALL. Plus the hole in the ceiling. Plus the rest of the pipes were corroded. Plus all the pipes are laid in the original wet bed. All said and done, we were going to need to gut EVERYTHING.

I liked our bathroom. Off white and sage green, a vanity we had updated, a cheap mirror and light fixtures that I had spray painted silver… Very simple, but in keeping with the house and it worked.

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before this all began

We began demo in late July, early August. So now, it’s been six months, and we have nothing. New pipes, a new stack, but nothing else. Why? Because apparently Plumber X doesn’t believe in finishing the job. After demo and re-piping finished in early September, he just never came back. Toilet was picked, tub was picked, fixtures picked, inspiration photos shared, a layout, insulation purchased, and I had the bathroom electrical rewired. But nothing.

I pestered, and in October he came back with his finishing guy so we could get a quote for dry wall in the bathroom, replacing an entire wall in our guest room (which Plumber X put an irreparable crack across doing demo), closing the wall up in the living room, relocating the linen closet, putting in a sliding door so we could have a full size vanity, and redoing the ceiling in the center hall. Measurements were taken, plans laid out, tile discussed. Never got the quote.

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This is the wall where our vanity and medicine chest and toilet should be.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving after more pestering, I told him I was having 11 people in my house for the holiday and at least needed the toilet and the old vanity hooked up. He promised it would be done and HE would do the wall repair in the living room so I could paint it because that’s where our Christmas tree goes. I also said I needed the estimate for the final work and he said no problem. Never showed, never returned calls and texted. Thanksgiving came and went.

Finally mid December, and he comes over again and says he has the estimate. What he had was a wrinkled copy of the original one, and he proceeded to tick off what he had done and make generalizations about the price of what was left. I told him I was going to have possibly 25 people over the day after New Years. I NEEDED A BATHROOM. Here are the dates we’d be home, here is what we wanted, and once again not a problem. And once again, never showed.

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The back of our linen closet where we should have a tub and shower head

The Man finally got involved a few weeks ago and once again Plumber X promised he’d stop by. Shock of all shocks, no show. He’d get the estimate, he was meeting with the guy. No estimate. Now most of you are probably reading this and thinking, “FIND SOMEONE ELSE ALREADY!” Easier said than done. This guy lives on our street, knows our house, knows what we want, and has no problem with us leaving Abby home while he works. Plus? Abby LOVES him. Do I really want to start over again with someone I don’t know and don’t trust to leave alone in my house? I don’t have endless vacation days.

Yesterday, The Man and I went to the Philadelphia Home Show. We had gotten the tickets through Groupon, mostly because I wanted to go see Jeff Devlin from DIY/HGTV “I Hate My Bath” (and a bunch of other shows I’ve drooled over). He gave an awesome talk on some basic “dos and don’ts” of renovating. The Man and I spent half the talk laughing because all of the “don’ts”? Yeah we had basically done them. But I have to say I did learn a lot (and scored his business card!!). The major point? We screwed up, we should have done this differently, and we should have given up on Plumber X a long time ago, even if he does live 5 houses away. And what did The Man learn? That his wife TOTALLY geeks out when she meets someone she admires.

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IT’S JEFF DEVLIN! And yes, I currently HATE my bath.

National Organization Day/Month!

Yesterday was National Organization Day! Did I know that when the day began? No. All I knew was I was cold, I woke up early because the puppy was dry heaving while laying ON TOP OF ME, and I felt under-caffeinated the whole rest of the day. Hence no blog post in honor of one of my favorite things.

But no fear! According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, I have a whole MONTH to get my stuff in gear. THANKFULLY. Because organization has taken on a whole new meaning in this house in the past six months.

Not only have we added a puppy into our house, but we also essentially removed a bathroom from it. How does that impact organization, you say? Well our second floor bathroom – the MAIN bathroom and one of only 2 in our three story + basement house – is not usable. It’s not like the thing was of Taj Mahal proportions anyway, but by “main” bathroom I mean the one where we showered, got ready, stored medications, and had the adjacent linen closet full of towels, toiletries, and what-not.

That means that since roughly July, all of our products and such had to be somewhere else. That “somewhere else” means mostly in the guest room. Our third floor bathroom has a stand up shower basin and a sink and medicine cabinet. NO storage whatsoever. It’s not even a vanity; it is a sink with legs.

On top of that we have PUPPY. Puppies eat things, move things, steal things, and generally get underfoot. Oh – AND THEY WANT TOYS. Oh and both me and The Man work full time. You’re probably thinking, “So what? Crate her.” Bless your soul. We would if we could but our poor baby has SEVERE crate aversion and a Jaws like appetite when it comes to gnawing on things that smell like us when we’re gone. Don’t believe me? Just wait for the post where I show the remote controls, cordless phones, shoes, and shirts she has eaten.

Needless to say, organization has taken on a whole new meaning in my life these days. I can still tell you where my tie-dyed Calvin and Hobbs t-shirt from high school is but I’d prove it by going down to the basement and getting it for you while tripping over one of 500 dog toys strewn about each level of our house. New year, though, and new goals and all. Anything that you’re planning on getting organized in 2015?

fall cleaning

When I think of doing major, whole house cleaning, I usually think of spring. But since the bathroom debacle started, it feels like life has spun out of control so I’ve taken advantage of the unseasonably warm days we’ve been having to throw up the windows and clean out.

One of the hardest things about working full time is finding room in a busy schedule for things like this. I haven’t come up with any revolutionary master plan, so don’t get excited. Even though my friends sometimes joke and call me Martha Stewart for my baking and crocheting, I haven’t become a guru when it comes to making cleaning quicker (or more fun).

I think when you have a room under construction, keeping the house clean becomes even more stressful. While I once felt like my house pretty much always looked put together, it now feels like utter chaos. Things that were in the bathroom or linen closet are now in the guest room, the hole in our center hall seems even more apparent, and the dust kitties seem to be multiplying.

Yesterday the Man and I spent a good six hours outside, trimming trees, pulling ivy, cleaning out the flower beds, and beginning to put our summer stuff up in the loft of the garage for storage. While I might be sore today, I’m really grateful to look out the window and see a nice, tidy back yard. Today has been spent switching over from summer to fall in the drawers and closets and vacuuming all the nooks and crannies on the first floor.

I’m sure when today is over, I’ll look at the first floor of my house with a sense of peace, but right now I just want to curl up on the couch and crochet. Anyone else tacking their fall cleaning? I could use a support group 🙂