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.

a long long time ago…

It seems like forever since I last posted, which is probably because it has been (or since the end of September). So many things have happened since then but every time I think, “I’ll sit down and post on my blog,” I try so hard to get the perfect words, the best picture, the funniest retelling, and end up losing the desire to even sit down and write.

For our 5 year anniversary in October, we did a little celebrating in the form of getting the bathroom most of the way done – finally!

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A little bit later in the month, we celebrated an early Thanksgiving with the Man’s parents which also happened to be their anniversary. They happened to be down visiting us before they went to Puerto Rico to ride out the cold months, and we surprised them. It was lovely.

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Abby continues to be her usual crazy self, including an experiment in eating lemons while we were at work one day.

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I November I decided that I missed the ER and my ankle gave out as I stepped out my back door. Hello, fractures… (and this is a “healing” picture of it)

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And for Christmas, we had an amazing time with family (and tortured the dog, per usual).

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On this quiet, snowy day I figured I would just take a moment to say hello. I hope you’re well, I hope you’re safe as this storm takes over the east coast, and I hope you come back again next time I post.

 

three down

Sometimes it seems like yesterday that our hallways and bedrooms were filled with boxes, but Sunday marked three years that we’ve been in our house. I get frustrated sometimes, thinking that everything should have been done in the house by now.  The laundry list of things that have yet to be fixed or painted or decorated seems to grow exponentially as the months go by.

The frustration is compounded by the fact that we found out we have to gut the bathroom. Yes, dear readers, gut. And this is a bathroom that I didn’t plan on touching until the very end. The center hall, the music room, our two guest rooms, the attic, refinishing the hardwood on the entire second floor, fixing our leaning garage, and some new light fixtures were all ahead of this bathroom. but, as leaks go, we are screwed because the offending pipes are IN THE FLOOR. Can’t access them from underneath. LOVELY.

I don’t necessarily want to use the phrase “failure” to describe how I feel about myself with regards to the house projects, but sometimes that’s the only word I can think of. It’s borderline embarrassing to have someone walk in the house and see the gaping hole we opened up to try to solve the leak issue. And as my friend Julie joked, every time I fix one part of the house or room, the adjoining areas that aren’t done look shabbier. It’s true.

But when it comes down to it, it’s not a failure. Even though I haven’t finished any major projects since before the fall, there are so many little things that have been done that I should feel proud about. A new print in the living room, a new rug in the one guest room, organizing my yarn stash so it doesn’t look like it exploded in the “kitty/crafting/New York/chocolate milk” room. And when it comes down to it, there’s still one major thing to be proud of: we have a house, and we have a loving home.

I think the biggest thing to date that we have done is the new addition of Abby, our puppy. And that has certainly come with its own host of challenges and redecorating and being very grateful I own a lot of kitchen towels to clean slobber up off the floor when she freaks when we leave the house. And we have done some decorating for her, mainly in the form of a bright purple octopus toy that is usually right in the middle of the living room, and a prairie dog antler that is typically in the worst possible location (ie not fun to step on).

So you know what? I may not have sanded or painted anything in the past few months, but I am so happy with the home we have continued to create for ourselves.

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Considering how hot it has been, it’s been hard to bring myself to cook. But we’ve been making simple meals that don’t require standing over the stove too much.  Regardless of what we’ve been making, though, we’ve certainly been enjoying eating in our newly redone dining room.

My family and friends have been bugging me for an update on how it all went, and the stubborn blogger in me was waiting to get the “perfect pictures” of the room when the light is just right and you can truly appreciate how gorgeous it turned out. Well, I’m not waiting for that perfect shot anymore. I want to show you all how it looks!

When we first looked at the house, we knew we had a challenge on our hands but I was thrilled that the dining room was so big.

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The only problem was the floor. And the wallpaper. And the light fixture. And the radiator cover. So okay everything other than the size was a problem. But particularly the wallpaper.

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UGH. WHY?!

A few days after we moved in, a couple friends were helping us unpack and somehow we ended up stripping the wallpaper and scrubbing the walls with TSP.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe light fixture didn’t bother us too much until we realized what it did when you turned it on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATextured ceiling + beveled glass fixture = AWESOME light patterns cast on the room. OR HIDEOUS.

I would have been content to leave the room as is except for one small problem. On one of the walls, the previous owners had let their kids scrawl their names, phone numbers, and some well wishes (“have a nice f*($#n day”), and we could not get it to scrub off. So, with a house warming bbq a few days away, we hastily picked a paint color and got to work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATADA! We used Behr’s Happy Camper Green (which comes out really true to their website pics) and absolutely LOVED the paint color. Then we were able to find a new light fixture at Home Depot for $179 and it really changed the look of the room. The only problem was that once we redid the living room, we realized the green did NOT go with the rest of the first floor which were mostly gray undertone colors. But for almost two years we lived with it.

Gradually we added furniture in the room. And by new furniture I mean a child size chifferobe and chest with shelving that I rehabbed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth the chifferobe and the dresser were made of pressed wood, but some heavy cleaning, light sanding, and half a dozen spray paint cans later, we had two very nice pieces.

P7030609This summer, with a week and change worth of vacation, I decided I was redoing and finally finishing off the dining room. First, I had a LOT of spackling to do, which we had neglected the first time around.

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The painting was easy. This time around we used Behr’s color Mountain Sage. I have to admit, though, that I had a gift card to Lowe’s so I decided to get the paint from there. With my color sample in hand, I got Valspar’s Ultra Interior Flat Enamel which is paint and primer in one, PLUS low VOC.  I was able to do two coats in the same day, a few hours apart, even though it was at least 80 degrees out and humid. I was ridiculously pleased with how thick the paint was, and as quickly and sloppily as I was working, it did not spatter at all. At $25 a gallon it was a bit more than some of the paint I’ve used, but WELL worth it in the long run.

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The only part of the room that was a pain was the wood work.  We have gorgeous dentil moulding around the ceiling and as our chair rail. The only problem? Dentil moulding was created as PUNISHMENT for people who have to paint it.  Now you all know that I’m psychotic and paint my woodwork in oil. What I learned the first time around doing the room was that you cannot paint the chair rail with a normal brush because it splatters and drips like crazy and you can’t get into the crevices. So this time?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYes, that is a paint brush that you would usually use for oil paint on canvas.  The chair rail took me at least two hours. See the X and hashes on the tape above? That’s how I kept my sanity and made sure I didn’t lose track of what dentil I was on. I COUNTED THEM. We have 382.

When all the tape was removed, it was time to dress the room. This definitely happened in stages.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst I put everything back in and desperately wished there was a way to hide the hideous tile floor. So I turned to CraigsList. $70 later….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!! I found a rug JUST large enough to cover the center of the room. It fits almost perfectly inside the white border tiles. I cannot tell you  how happy this makes me. Even though it darkens the room a little bit, it has also worked to dampen the horrible echo we always had. And now some glamour shots for your viewing pleasure!

The metal radiator cover was scored about 6 months ago for $40. Add two cans of spray paint and you have a gorgeous piece.

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It is dressed with a Limoges Bird of Paradise condiment dish, a bird and container from Michaels, a Lenox vase we received for our wedding, and a silver candy dish (devoid of its usual supply of M&Ms).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Limoges dish (also known as the Eden pattern) was scored for $15 at an estate sale and matches china that I have.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd yes, the flowers are fake which I have people ask me all the time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur “hutch” is dressed with a handmade bowl we received for our wedding that is personalized, some R mugs, a bird I bought during a trip we took for our first anniversary, a whiskey set from friends, our cake topper, and a few other sentimental items. While the display is nice, the drawers were a huge plus in the room as they house most of our linens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe refinished chifferobe houses more linens and entertaining pieces like wine glasses and serving trays. The paint crackled when it was drying (as I refinished it last fall which was a mistake because of the cool, humid nights) so some time this summer it will go out piece by piece to get a finish coat.  The red bird is also from Michaels. Can you sense a theme here?

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The wall that was so horribly uneven is now smoothed out and has photos I took in Ireland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think one of the things that excited me the most about finishing the room was the harmony when you look from the dining room into the living room and see how the colors go together. (Please ignore the drop cloth on the floor in the living room!)  The fact that the rug goes with the valances my mom had treated me to when I had found the living room ones. They were purchased from Swags Galore and I would never buy valances without looking there first. Their prices are AMAZING.

Overall I’m just thrilled. The first few days, as I stumbled into the kitchen to get my coffee, I was overwhelmed by the difference that paint color can make. Before, when you walked into our dining room it said HI! I’M GREEN! and now it says Please come sit down and enjoy a savory meal.

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I hope you enjoyed seeing the dining room as much as I enjoy it. Every night as the gloaming approaches, I walk into my dining room and think this is why I do this. This was worth the wait. This is something good and safe and beautiful.

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