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.

 

feline friday helpful kitty!

Luna has been very anti-social this summer, what with her itchy skin and distaste for Abby’s curious nose. It’s good to know that she still can be her helpful self, though, when it comes to renovations.

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She’s always willing to hold down the drop cloth in a pinch 🙂

Hope everyone had a lovely Friday! Can’t wait to show progress on my finger AND the bathroom. Big summer!!!

beginning of the end…

The one perk to being home for a week after surgery was that the company we had chosen to use for sheet rock in the bathroom called and they were able to squeeze us in! It was like getting  a 2 for 1 deal – home recuperating and resting, while someone else did the work in the house! Bonus? No extra time needed off from work.

We finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the beginning of the end to the year and a half saga of not having our main bathroom!!! Of course, we needed to have a quality inspection as the work was being done.

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Hope everyone is having a lovely furry friday! Next week I’ll share pics of the finger post-surgery. At least now I can type with all 10 fingers again!

why you shouldn’t let me have spray paint

If I had known about spray paint as a teenager I could have gotten into so much more DIY trouble. I’m more than happy to make up with it now, though! And tis the season to spray paint!

I don’t have my “spray paint studio” set up in the garage anymore, but I was able to make due with the use of cardboard protection on the lawn (because I really don’t need multi-colored grass). What was I spray painting? Well, this year we switched out my mom’s old, tired, plastic, terracotta colored planters for new, bright, and shiny ones. Most were in okay shape structurally (nothing a little hidden duct tape couldn’t fix) but they were ridiculously faded. Solution? I take them and see how well spray paint works on them!

one of the victims

one of the victims

I had never spray painted plastic before, but I figured it can’t be that hard, right? I prepped the pots by scrubbing them with Mrs. Meyers Surface Scrub and letting them dry in the sun for almost an hour. Then began the fun part: prime and paint!

the weapons of choice

the weapons of choice

I’ve become a devotee of all things Valpsar from Lowe’s after using it to paint our dining room, upstairs hall, and guest room, so I figured I’d give their spray paint a try. It was, as a plus, much cheaper than other products I had used in the past. Although some of their colors say that they’re fine to use directly on plastic, I decided to prime all the boxes with two to three coats anyway. I had a few different places that the boxes were going, so I chose two different colors: Tropical Oasis and Sumptuous Purple.

Tropical Oasis

Tropical Oasis

I could not be happier with the way the boxes turned out! I probably did three to four coats on each box. Both colors came out bright and cheerful. Two of the Tropical Oasis boxes sit in a very shady bed behind Hostas under our cherry tree, and one holds a plant on our driveway.

The Sumptuous Purple boxes came out equally brilliant. Because they’re going along the side of our lawn and sitting directly in the garden beds which are filled with ivy and can get quite soggy, I wanted to make sure they had plenty of drainage, but also weren’t too heavy. Solution?

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Pine cones! Doesn’t everyone have a tote full of pine cones just sitting in their garage? Well, this girl has TWO totes full. Over a year ago, I spent all fall picking up the myriads of pine cones that fall from our huge tree because we learned the hard way that if you leave them through the winter, they create horrible divots in the lawn. I can’t walk without tripping on a good day, so my personal mission became collecting them. I figured we’d use them in our fire pit, but they burn so quickly they’re not very helpful. Finally, though, they have a purpose!

Sumptuous Purple

Sumptuous Purple

I filled the bottom third with the pine cones and then added soil on top. I only planted Impatients in the boxes so they don’t have terribly deep roots to worry about. So far, they’re thriving! Now I just had to figure out what to do with the leftover spray paint… but NO WORRIES!

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sad chair is sad

We inherited five of these sad looking folding chairs when we moved into the house. They were covered in rust. The first summer we lived in the house, I had spray painted a few tiny clay pots a beautiful lime green, and with paint leftover, I had sanded all five chairs and intended to paint them the same. Only two of the chairs got painted, though, but no worries!

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Now we have two more folding chairs to add to our collection for when we entertain! I love how cheerful these chairs are now and can’t wait until we have our first summer BBQ to pull them out.

Today was certainly a dismal, rainy, gray day, but I’m so thrilled with all the things I’ve gotten done so far! Anyone need anything spray painted!?

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.

decisions, decisions …

I’m not quite ready to share pictures of the bathroom yet. You’re not missing anything, though, because all we have to look at right now are studs and some gorgeous 3/4″ ply sub floor! At the same time, though, we have a lot of decisions to make.

The toilet? Easy. The vanity? We’ll find one eventually. Already found a medicine cabinet we like and some potential light fixtures. No problem! The thing that I’m agonizing over? Paint colors.

I’m very lucky in that The Man is so laid back because so far, he’s trusted me on the paint colors. We both picked the color for the dining room, which we later decided to change but no big deal. And when it came to the bedroom, we tried a gazillion samples until finally I went to the store and picked one basically because of the name. What I’ve started to realize, though, is that I tend to gravitate towards very yellow based colors, but then they end up looking WAY too bright in our house because we’re lucky in that we have tons of natural light. So I’m overcompensating for no reason.

I’d like to say I’m picking one neutral color and painting all the rooms on the second floor the same way, but that’s not going to happen. I like the fact that each room has its own identity. The problem is, though, that I want everything to feel like it belongs together. We have to repaint the one guest room I finished (and never even shared pictures of), we never painted the other guest room in the first place, I think our bedroom color is too pale, we never painted the hallway and I need to pick one color that coordinates with the downstairs and upstairs, and my office IS A VERY BRIGHT YELLOW.

So now, I’m trying to pick all the colors at once. Of course, I started trolling Pinterest and have a whole board dedicated to the remodel. This is the inspiration bathroom from my Pinterest.

I love everything about it – the floor, the wainscoting, the color… but then I realized I’d have a yellow office, was planning on a yellow music room (off the living room) and our house is yellow. So apparently I secretly have a passion for the color.

Now, my dining room table looks like this.

IMG_20140917_151232_889While I know all the rooms aren’t going to get painted at once, I really want to have a plan so that if we have a free weekend, we can just go out, grab a gallon and get a room finished with all the agonizing decision making behind us. So wish me luck! If I keep stalling any longer I’m just going to play spin the bottle for the paint color.

stir crazy demo

I need to get myself a Harry Potter t-shirt that says “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good” and wear it on snow days. Because I go a little crazy. Cleaning, baking, crocheting, devouring shows on Netflix, and OH! DESTRUCTION!

The Man is at work on this fine, snowy day and if I were to email him right now it would probably go something like this:

“Dear Husband,

You know how I was asking what Dremel bits we own and you said I could go get a diamond bit at Home Depot for that little project I wanted to do of removing the tile toothbrush holder in the bathroom? Well…. I found a mallet and a screwdriver instead. Love you!  PS – Don’t come home early.”

Hehehehe….

So my mom got me a really pretty soap dispenser for our kitchen a year or so ago and I decided it would actually look really pretty in our main bathroom. So yesterday I brought it upstairs and the stupid tile toothbrush holder that is affixed to the wall was (keyword: was) totally too low for the dispenser to sit in a logical place and still be usable without being in the way.

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before

This morning, as I drank coffee, I googled “how to remove a ceramic toothbrush holder” and found a really helpful article on eHow Home. I asked the Man about the Dremel, and he said sure, we could buy a bit, it’s cheap, but not today because of that whole snow thing and he had to leave for work in less than 2 hours. Okay, not a problem.

So he goes to work, I reorganize my office and move my bookcases onto different walls (oh yeah, forgot to mention that! hehehehe…. that’s another post) and then I’m bored. I’m trying to quit smoking, so I need to keep myself really busy, so I decide screw the article, we’re gonna see what a mallet and a finely tipped screwdriver does. Yay! Great idea!

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totally sophisticated tools

For starters, you need safety equipment. So what I wore was a black Marine Corps hoodie, red/pink plaid flannel PJ pants from LL Bean, slippers, and my everyday glasses. You also need to assume you’re not going to be successful, so don’t bother taking pictures with your actual camera, just use your phone.

I closed the drain to the sink (I did read the article, just ignored a lot of it) and put a towel down so that any flying chunks wouldn’t damage the sink top. I then got the vacuum, closed the bathroom door, and began trying the utility knife. That did nothing to the grout, so I started working the screwdriver around the edge and pounding with the mallet very lightly.  The grout actually started coming away really easily. At only point, I got a whole CHUNK to come off and was really excited! So what did I do next? The next logical thing, of course.  I aimed with the mallet, turned my head, closed my eyes, and just SMASHED the holder.

About 3/4 of it came off and I jumped up and down like a 5 year old I was so excited. The whole process only took about 30 minutes. I vacuumed a lot in between so I could see where I was working. Of course, there was no tile behind the holder, so I was left with a bit of a hole.

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The DIYer in me took a step back and thought: “Hmmm…. I’m not going to replace this with another tile, but I don’t want a hole showing. So what do I have that I could artfully cover up the hole with?” TADA!!!!!!!!!!!

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It’s a frame I’ve had for FOREVER from Ikea, hung on a tiny little Command hook. I don’t think I’ll get rid of the tile soap dish, mostly because it’s convenient if you need to take off a pair of earrings or a ring before you shower, and it’s not in the way.

If you have a ceramic toothbrush holder you hate, my best advice is to be careful, go slowly, and just get rid of it. My mom has told me repeatedly, and in the mostly loving way possible, that sometimes I’m just a little bit too stupid to know when I shouldn’t try something, and I laugh every time knowing she is totally right. It may be a little change, but I couldn’t be happier. And I didn’t even break a finger or toe! Those slippers really are great for foot safety.

So what did you destroy this snow day? 🙂

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RIP, toothbrush holder